By Andi M

Sale Ezy is a remote workplace culture; an approach designed to empower us to draw from a talent pool Australia-wide. We have people in the city and in the country, and for each of us, finding our 'work-from-home groove' was different.

"Working from home will be the best!" I remember saying.

"I'll be able to get up early, get straight into work, keep up the momentum through lunch and then finally finish on time and have some balance! Life is going to be amazing!"

That was three years ago.

At the time I had those very ambitious thoughts, I was just starting with Sale Ezy and I was absolutely in love with the company's idea of an Australia-based, remote workforce. It had the simple and consistent philosophy: what we offer is online and enables people to buy properties remotely, so why shouldn't we operate our team the same way?

As the company saw it: support team members, marketers, writers and salespeople would have access to everything they need online, systems would log our access and work, business communication platforms would enable video and text chats and file sharing, and an intranet would keep us up-to-date with what is happening.

And the theory was good.

Sale Ezy, as it grows, will offer its platform to agents and sellers all around Australia, and, as such, the company wants to be able to draw from a broad talent pool, based first on personality and a genuine focus on wanting to help and support clients. Having a combination of urban and regional employees scattered around our beautiful country is the best way to meet these requirements.

So, why did I, like so many, have such trouble with working from home when I first started?

The first week I worked from home, I am proud to say, I stuck to my guns.

My core hours were 7am until 4pm, with some breaks along the way, and by 6.45am, I was at my desk, I had undertaken my ergonomics and WHS check and I was typing furiously.

By week two, I was just as motivated... but we'd had a busy weekend and hadn't quite made it to the house chores by Sunday night. On Monday, instead of getting straight into work, I figured a good approach would be the clean the place up, get the washing on and then dive into work.

But what happens when you start chores? You get so engrossed in getting everything done you lose track of time.

And so, my approach to working at home continued to evolve until I was starting at 7am and working until 10pm to ensure I covered all hours I owed, but also fit in the housework, the shopping, lunch and so on and so forth.

Working from home can be an amazing opportunity, but getting it right -- really being productive and making the most out of the time, comes down to solid planning.

As I learned, every compromise you make, every time you slide and let that boundary between professional and personal time creep, the balancing act becomes more-and-more difficult to keep up.

As workplaces across the country prepare to initiate a sudden shift towards work from home to cater to self-quarantine from Coronavirus, we thought we'd share some of the best tips we've learned as we've moved from a remote workplace in its infancy, to a functional and productive work-from-home culture.

1. Have a dedicated space you are comfortable in

Some people, when working from home, try to do so at the kitchen table. It's a bigger room than perhaps a spare bedroom or office nook, it has windows and in general, it just feels a little less claustrophobic.

But working from a space that is dedicated to everything except your work is often a big mistake.

Firstly, the space will usually be a traffic point for other people who live in the home, so be prepared for plenty of distraction -- and you can't really tell them to leave, because it's their home too!

Secondly, the effort of setting up and packing down your 'office' each day just so you can have dinner is one you soon get sick of and the 'dinner table' remains a multi-use space even while everyone is fork-deep in their hoarded pasta.

Thirdly, while we all love to be clean and tidy, it is inevitable, at some point, you will end up with a splodge of last night's food on your paperwork.

If at all possible, find yourself a dedicated workspace when working from home. Put it in a room that no one else needs to come in or by very often and in a place where you won't need to pack down. This can be something as simple as temporarily placing a desk in the corner of your bedroom for the few weeks you might need it.


2. Set boundaries with other residents

This is a short one but an important one. If you are working from home, in your dedicated space, within hours that other residents will be home, it is crucial you set very clear and specific guidelines.

Tell family or housemates, 'I will be working in my bedroom between 9 and 5pm, with a lunch break around 1 pm. While I am in there, I am at work, I am not at home, so please don't come in and try to chat as I won't be able to hear you... I'll be miles away at the office!'

3. Separate work from home work

Sometimes, when you have a lot on your plate -- especially as a multi-tasker -- you're inclined to mix a task from this list with a task from that list. But while working from home, mixing up professional and personal tasks can lead to little or no work being done.

As in the above tip, set the same boundary with yourself. While between the hours of 9am and 5pm, you are at work. It is not your job to do the washing or cleaning or food prep in your workplace, so it is not your job to do any of those tasks until after 5pm, regardless of where you are working.

Don't give in -- not even once, because as soon as you do, all hope of getting back on track is lost!

4. Plan your day

At work, there are fewer non-work distractions, so it is easy to look at your list of to-dos and jump in and out of this task and that. At home, it can be much more difficult, because ending one task can signal a quick opportunity to throw the washing on or 'duck down to the shops'.

Planning, when working at home, needs to be a lot tighter and more specific than what you might do in a workplace.

We all do it different ways at Sale Ezy, but, coming from an ad agency background, I find it really helpful to make my list of work 'to do' for the day, order it by priority or urgency, estimate the amount of time each task will take and then allocate set times.

For instance; check and respond to emails: 7am to 7.30am, draft today's blog 7.30am to 8.30am, make return calls to x, y and z 8.30am to 10am, and so on and forth until I have a firm schedule for my day.

This really works for the type of person who loves a deadline and likes to stay on track -- you're less likely to 'duck out' if it means your next four tasks will run behind.

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After a lot of fine-tuning, the most important lesson I learned about working from home is different people and personality types manage it differently in order to be effective. Different people have different ways of staying on task, finding balance and drawing that personal and professional line.

Perhaps start with a plan that is a little more structured and prescriptive, then if you think you can loosen it up without it affecting your productivity, be slightly less prescriptive as the days go by until you find a comfortable rhythm.