A Beginner's Guide to Working from Home

For many modern professionals, working from home is possible from time-to-time. But when it becomes the norm, it can help to structure your day.

Working From Home

Setting yourself up to work from home

Do what you can to replicate the seating and desk posture that you have in the office. It can be challenging but try to find the best you can with what you have at home. Don’t be tempted to sit on the sofa with a laptop on a cushion if you have a kitchen table and chair that might be a better set-up for all-day working.

Create a comfortable environment

If you’re not speaking with customers, a bit of background music can really help with energy levels and if you can, try to work where you can get natural light.

Dress for the day

Make sure you dress for work as it helps you to feel like you’re properly at work i.e. don’t wear pyjamas or a onesie all day as you will feel lethargic. It’s a good discipline to help you separate between work and leisure time.

Set your to do list and be disciplined

Challenge yourself to complete certain tasks in a day and be as organised as you would in the office. Working from home isn't an opportunity for friends to come around or to run errands outside of break-time.

Stretch and hydrate

It’s easy to get involved with a task when you’re not distracted by others and you can easily find that you haven’t moved or drunk anything for hours. Set the alarm on your phone to remind you to get up, stretch, get a drink, eat lunch etc.  You will stay more productive and energised if you do this.

Take a break and remember to eat

Make sure you take regular, short breaks to keep your energy and motivation going. Sometimes just loading or unloading the washing machine is enough to do this and it gets a chore done too!

Learn about yourself

Try to notice when your energy is best and plan your most complicated tasks for that part of the day if you can.  Save some of the easier, ‘housekeeping’ tasks for when you know your energy wanes a bit. If you have a deadline to meet or are dealing with customer calls, just try to maintain your energy with good hydration and maybe a quick chat with a colleague to boost you along the way.

Virtual socialising

Take a bit of time to stay in touch with your colleagues as you will probably miss them and the vibe you enjoy in the office. We all need to look out for each other. Keep in contact with your managers and ask them to keep in contact with you. Use mediums like Skype and Yammer to maintain engagement and keep in touch with colleagues.

Pack it away

If you have the space, pack all your work stuff away when you’ve finished. It’s really important to separate work from home and this is a good way to do it.  Anyone you live with will appreciate this too.

Beware of increased fire risks

Another thing to be aware of when working from home is the potential for increased fire risks.

Does your home insurance cover your new 'shoffice' and personal storage unit? With the increasing popularity of conversions to home offices, gyms, drinks bars, shed offices' ('shoffices') and she-sheds, data shows that outbuilding fires rose by 16% in 2020, compared to the year before, and three-quarters of areas in the UK recorded more fires, according to Freedom of information requests issued by Zurich UK in August 2021.

The increase in the use and conversion of outbuildings to escape family life or find a place to work while we spend a greater portion of our time at home seems, according to Phil Ost from Zurich, 'to have sparked a rise in accidental blazes.'

Also, a survey conducted by Aviva in April 2021 suggested that as many as one in ten of those asked worked from a converted shed, garage or summer house, with some people spending significant sums on a luxury cabin. An increase in planning applications to convert garages has also risen sharply.

What many are unaware of, however, is the risk of invalidating their insurance if they have not informed their insurer of their new or converted outbuilding. While some insurers have allowed people setting up in business at home to extend their cover at no extra cost, some may need to buy new policies or pay larger premiums owing to the extra risk.

Something to be cautious of is the risk that expensive equipment, for example, may go above insurance limits if stolen or damaged.

Popular lockdown purchases such as pizza ovens, fire pits and chimeneas have also been the culprits of increased fire risks in gardens, with data from UK fire authorities showing an increase of more than 500 fires last year than in 2019.

Be careful of using self-storage units as warehouses

Another risk which has also emerged are the increase in the use of self-storage units while people work from home. Warnings have been issued regarding underinsuring, or having no insurance, for personal property in storage units. Some customers have been victims of warehouse fires where their personal belongings have gone up in flames.

Many storage unit operators offer insurance, but customers may shop around for cheaper deals, and some may have cover included through their home insurance policy.

Business insurance from Towergate

Whether you’re a large business, SME or sole trader, work from home or have a property empire - Towergate have got an insurance policy for you. For more information, visit our dedicated business insurance page.

About the author

Mike Stephens FCII is a respected senior industry professional and Fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) with well over 40 years’ varied experience in the commercial insurance sector as a director, underwriter, and operational improvement manager.