This Valentine’s Day we’re showing some love to those who work on their own.
Whether you’re travelling for work or working from a home office, it can feel a little lonely sometimes. It’s important that you are granted the same motivation and safety as those working in a head office.
We’ve put together some of the most common safety considerations as well as tips to stay motivated to support you.
Make sure your equipment is working
Before you leave and head out to an appointment, make sure you check your equipment.
Is your phone fully charged?
This is the most important question as you may need to contact someone throughout the day and particularly in event of an emergency. It’s also important that any other equipment you need is working and that you have all the cables, chargers, and information you need for the entire day, so you do not have a wasted journey.
Make sure you check this before you need to leave to begin your journey.
Invest in the right equipment
If you are travelling a lot in your role you may need a product with Bluetooth so you can use your phone while you drive. If you want to be able to call or take calls while driving, you must have a hands-free device and should never use your phone while driving as it endangers the safety of yourself and others.
If any of your equipment is starting to look or behave like it’s seen better days, don’t leave it until the last minute to replace it. Make sure you have a backup ready to go and take it with you if you have any concerns.
Tell someone where you are
Staff at your head office should know your schedule so they know where you are and when they can contact you. It’s also important you confirm you have arrived at a scheduled visit and that you have made it safely home. This could be crucial if something were to happen or if someone didn’t know your schedule.
If you don’t have a head office then make sure you tell someone where you are going and when you should be home. It could make a real difference if anything were to happen to you.
Consider where you park or your travel by foot
When driving to an appointment you need to consider where you park your car. If it’s winter, you may be leaving your visit in the dark, so don’t park your car somewhere with bad lighting or in a place you don’t think is safe. If you don’t feel safe going back to your car for any reason, ask a member of the organisation to walk you to your car or to watch you get into your car.
The same principle applies for anyone who is taking public transport to an appointment. Make sure you know how to get from the station to the building. If it is quite a long walk and you are leaving in the dark, then it might be safer to take a taxi back to the station to catch your train.
It’s just as important to consider your health and safety in your home office as it is when you are out travelling. Make sure you take regular breaks from your work throughout the day and don’t sit in the same position for your entire working day without moving.
You need to give your eyes a break from the screen in the same way as you would at an office desk. You also need to get up from your desk, move around, and get some fresh air if you can. This is for your well-being and will make you more productive throughout the day.
Assess your work space
Is your desk appropriate for working?
Is your desk set up so you are sitting correctly?
Do you need a rest for your wrist or any other additional support?
Staff working in an office will have a risk assessment completed at their desk to ensure the environment is safe, and you must do the same thing. Working in a position which damages your back or neck could cause you serious problems. You also need to ensure your equipment is being used safely and that you give the same consideration to confidential documents and data protection as you would in your head office.
You can consult IOSH for more information about risk assessments in the home office.
When you work in an office environment, you’re likely to have some sort of routine. Whether it’s the time you start your day, your lunch break, or the order you approach your work; the routine is often part of the charm!
Having a routine for a remote office or a home office is just as important to keep you motivated and maintain the line between ‘work’ and ‘home’ life.
Decide on your work hours for that week and stick to them. Wake up like you would if you had to leave to go to work and make sure you give yourself time in the morning before you start work.
Having this routine will make your day easier to manage and organise and will also stop your work day blurring into your home life. Letting the two become one can have negative effects on both as you’ll either be unmotivated to work and complete work tasks or the complete opposite will happen, and you’ll be unable to switch off. If you’re working for yourself you might not mind putting in the extra hours, but you won’t want to be working at home when you’re not earning for it.
Get ready for work
You wouldn’t go to an office in your pyjamas, so don’t sit at home in your pyjamas to do your work.
If you don’t get yourself ready for the day then you’re unlikely to have the motivation or correct mindset for work tasks. If you’re finding your work is getting a bit sloppy then make sure it’s not because you feel sloppy. It doesn’t matter what you look like as long as you feel confident and capable, so make sure you’re doing what you need to before you start work to feel your best.
Obviously, if you are contacting clients or colleagues via a video call, it’s even more important to ensure you look presentable as you are an ambassador for your company even when you’re working from home.
Plan your day and give yourself goals for that day and that week.
Organising your day will help you stick to your working hours and also make it clear what you need to achieve.
As you have your own workspace, you can use it in any way you wish, and so you can use wall organisers or calendars to encourage yourself and push yourself towards your goals.
Make sure you get some fresh air at lunch time even if it’s only for a few minutes.
Keep in touch with head office
Even though you are not physically in head office, you are still part of a work team and it’s important to build on your relationships with colleagues, as well as keeping up-to-date with the business.
If you’re feeling lonely or unmotivated then reach out to your colleagues. You can contact them by phone, email, or video call and discuss how business is moving or if there are any changes you should be aware of.
When you’re struggling with something don’t just struggle alone in silence. Reach out to the appropriate member of your team and ask for help.
Make sure you share your achievements with your manager and colleagues so they can congratulate you like they would in an office. However, remember that they can only be involved if you tell them about it!
Know when to stop
Finally, working remotely can often mean you lose track of time. As you’re not walking away from your desk or travelling home, you may be tempted to carry on working.
Finishing a task after the time you should finish work is often the right thing to do, however, scheduling work for outside working hours or carrying on with new tasks which see you working for hours after you should have finished is not healthy.
This is why planning your day is so important.
If you find you aren’t able to handle your workload in your allocated hours, firstly consider whether you are being distracted during the day or whether your planning and schedules are working, then speak to your manager to discuss how you can move forward.
Remote and flexible working is now common in a wide variety of businesses and so it’s important we take care of our remote workers.
You can find out more about supporting and managing remote workers with our CPD short courses:
Personal safety for lone or remote workers
Supporting remote or virtual teams