How to ace remote working in the UK

A woman working on her laptop while sat on he bed with a cup of tea

This article was written by the Great British Mag content team on 9 June 2021.

Planning to stay in the UK and find a job after graduation? The coronavirus pandemic caused a pretty significant shift in the way Brits work, with more remote working options being introduced by many businesses. So it’s worth considering how this could impact you and your new job.

Although things are slowly returning to normal, lots of companies have decided to make remote working a permanent policy, whether that means they’ve given up their office space entirely or will encourage staff to work remotely part-time as standard.

Keep reading to find out how to ace remote work and make an impression in your new role, even if you get limited face-to-face time with your colleagues.

Designate a space at home for work

Finding a quiet space where you can work comfortably at home is tricky for lots of people – especially grads who tend to live in house shares with people who might also be working from home. It’s not ideal to stay cooped up in your bedroom all day – you should associate that space with relaxing, not working – but if you don’t have a choice, at least prop open the door. This will stop you from feeling too enclosed and allow you to interact with your housemates a bit.

Have a think about any communal spaces where you could set up a workstation, like the dinner table. Perhaps suggest to your housemates that you all work there together so you have some company, and just go to your rooms when you need to make video calls.

If you’re struggling to find a suitable space at home then talk to your manager – they will want you to be able to work in a calm and productive environment and may be able to accommodate you more at the office.

Organise your equipment

If your company expects you to work from home on certain days, they’ll need to make sure you have all the tech and equipment required. As well as the basics – like a laptop, for instance – things like keyboards, screens, desks and chairs are important. Sitting on your bed or in a dining chair for hours on end won’t do wonders for your back.

So think about what you need to be comfortable and able to carry out your job to your best ability – then talk to your HR department or manager about anything you don’t already have access to.

Stick to a schedule

When your home space doubles up as your workplace, it can be easy for the boundaries of your working day to become blurred. Treat your start and finish times exactly the same as if you were going into the office – even if no one is checking up on you.

Although it might be tempting to have a lie in and log in a bit late, remember this might mean you don’t finish on time either. And once your finishing time becomes compromised, you might find yourself checking emails and finishing off tasks all evening, not knowing where to draw the line.

Taking breaks can also be a bit more tricky at home, where you aren’t prompted by others getting up and leaving the office to take lunch. Schedule your breaks and stick to them – they’re super important to help your concentration and productivity levels.

Make video calls count

It’s likely that you’ll have lots of meetings over zoom or other video conferencing software. These might take some getting used to – they’re often not quite as slick as face-to-face meetings, especially if there are lots of participants. That said, you can still impress your manager and make yourself stand out for all the right reasons during these calls.

First, think about the camera and what’s in the background where you’re sat; if it’s clear you’re on the sofa or a bed, this won’t look very professional. Try to set yourself up somewhere uncluttered and where you can have your camera at eye height.

It’s important that you’re somewhere quiet too, so the others on the call aren’t distracted by what’s going on around you. Pre-warm your housemates when you have a meeting so they know to keep the noise down, but if background din can be unpredictable, put yourself on mute until you need to speak.

We all know video calls with multiple people can be difficult to navigate, and speaking up without speaking over anyone else can be tricky. But don’t let that dissuade you from contributing – it’s important to seem keen and proactive in your new role, and people will be forgiving if you accidentally interrupt someone.

Use collaboration platforms

One of the downsides of remote working for new employees is that making friends with your colleagues is a little bit trickier. Those small interactions you might have across desks or in the office kitchen usually help you to become familiar with one another, but there are fewer opportunities for these instances when you’re only in the office a couple of days a week.

The good news is that most businesses that support remote working will have some kind of online platform (like Slack, for instance) for chatting and collaborating with colleagues.

Make good use of this by joining in with relevant conversations whenever you can, and making sure you’re communicating often with teammates about projects you’re working on together. It’s not only a good way to forge those new friendships but also to make sure you’re on the right track with your tasks and are doing what’s expected of you.

Dress appropriately

One of the perks of working from home is that you can be comfortable and dress how you like – some days you’ll be able to get away with comfy joggers or even pyjamas if you’re that way inclined! But be mindful of how you appear when you’re on a video call. While it’s not necessary to dress up super formally, it’s still important to look professional – especially as a new employee.

Get out of the house

When you don’t have a commute, it’s easy to find yourself at the end of a work day having not left the house at all. As you probably know from long study sessions at uni, getting outside for some fresh air and exercise really can do the world of good.

Even if the weather’s not great, just going on a 20-minute walk on your lunch break can help reset your brain and leave you feeling more alert and energised for the afternoon.

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