Out of Office

Archive for the ‘For Your Comfort’ Category

Designing Your Multi-Purpose Home Office

When setting up an Out Of Office workspace we suggest choosing a dedicated space, preferably a separate room (with a door). We explain the reasons for doing so in the book.

However, not everyone has the luxury of a spare room they can re-purpose as a home office. Fortunately, Kerrie Kelly comes to the rescue with some clever alternatives to a single-purpose home office:

  • Hide it in a closet
  • Hide it in plain sight
  • Shelve it
  • Consider the kitchen
  • Utilize the utility room

You can read Kerrie’s home office suggestions in detail on the Workshifting blog.

Tell us about your Out Of Office workspace by leaving a comment below.

Working From Home – Is It The Future?

There’s no question that working from home is growing in popularity, and obviously we’re big fans of it. Here’s an interesting infographic showing some statistics about how fast it’s growing:

Working From Home -- Is It The Future? by Staff.com
Staff.com – Connecting Great Companies with Global Talent

31 Simple Ways to Maximize Efficiency in Your Home Office

Maximize Efficiency in Your Home OfficeWorking from home gives you great flexibility, but also forces you to create your own systems, processes, and discipline. This can be a challenge for some people, especially because everybody is different. So there’s no one-size-fits-all system you can pull off a shelf and apply to your circumstances.

But this Lifehack checklist 31 Simple Ways to Maximize Efficiency in Your Home Office is a useful starting point. Look through this list and borrow what works for you when setting up your own system.

The Daily Routines of Out-Of-Office Geniuses

The Daily Habits of GeniusesIn this episode, we look at the daily working lives of great artists, writers, philosophers, and other geniuses – and apply them to Out of Office work.

Listen to the episode here:

Read the Harvard Business Review article, The Daily Routines of Geniuses, which we mention in this episode. That in turn is based on Mason Currey’s book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work.

Our Productivity Platform

Our Productivity PlatformThere are lots of productivity tools, and in this episode we share our personal favourites. Everybody is different, so you’ll have to discover what works best for you. But we hope that by seeing what we use, you’ll be able to adapt them for your own productivity needs.

Listen to the episode here:

Download the MP3 file here

Subscribe to the podcast

Buy the book here

Links and Resources

Time Management:

Consuming Information:

  • Kindle: Easy to download samples; available across all my devices (via the Kindle app)
  • Pocket (formerly Read It Later): Allows you to bookmark interesting content for reading later
  • Buffer: Automate/schedule the publication of your tweets, posts and status updates on various social media platforms


  • Dropbox: Perfect for sharing files across all devices
  • Evernote: Similar to Dropbox, but better for tag, sorting and searching; it can also handle “snippets” better (e.g. photos, infographics, hand­drawn notes)
  • Google Drive: Started life as Google Docs, a Cloud-­based productivity suite (word processor, spreadsheet, slide deck, etc.); now a Cloud-­based file storage system


  • GoToMeeting and Google Hangouts: Use these for audio/video conferencing. Includes screen sharing, one-click recording, and other useful collaboration features
  • Skype: Use SkypeOut to call anybody anywhere; easier and more convenient than a landline
  • LastPass: Password manager that has a really useful feature to share passwords securely with others
  • Google Calendar / Tasks / Contacts: Google’s Cloud-­based calendar, to do list and people list

Personal Effectiveness:

  • Noom Coach: A fitness app on my phone, mainly related to healthy eating
  • BeyondPod and Podcast Addict: Podcast apps with some productivity features, like speeding up playback
  • iMindmap and Mindjet: Mind mapping software for recording in a more visual way

Wasted Time at Work: An Enlightening Infographic

Wasted Time in the Workplace - Infographic

Take a Break

Taking short regular breaks helps you stay fresh and focussed when working Out of Office. GotoPC recently asked workers to vote on their favourite ways of taking a break. The results are summarised in the infographic below.

25 Tips in 25 Minutes

StopwatchesIn this episode, we share 25 simple but effective tips for improving your Out of Office work style – in the areas of productivity, e-mail, reducing interruptions, flexibility, and online meetings.

Listen to the episode here:

Download the MP3 file here

Buy the book here (available at a reduced price for a limited time).

Summary of the 25 tips:

Set up your workspace with productivity in mind:

  1. Have a dedicated office
  2. Make it easy to switch between workspaces
  3. Create good ergonomics
  4. Make it a place where you like to work

Reduce interruptions:

  1. Turn off alerts for non-urgent communication
  2. Conversely, allow important and urgent messages to get through
  3. Educate people about your work day
  4. Schedule work for quiet times

Manage your time:

  1. Use the Pomodoro Technique or Work Sprints
  2. Set priorities for the day
  3. Track your time
  4. Focus on outcomes and results, and keep promises you make to others

Handle email efficiently:

  1. Don’t use your inbox as your To Do list.
  2. Separate processing from responding
  3. Unsubscribe from irrelevant newsletters, notifications, and mailing lists
  4. Use sub-folders to organise incoming mail

Run better online meetings:

  1. Have a pre-meeting checklist
  2. Know what you want to get from the meeting
  3. “Arrive” early, and be ready to start on time
  4. Get comfortable with the technology

Be flexible, but in a smart way:

  1. Set aside dedicated time slots each week for certain things
  2. Establish a routine for the day
  3. Set weekly goals rather than daily goals
  4. Mix it up
  5. Try different things, and break all the rules!

How To Work From Home Like You Mean It

Fast Company magazine published an interesting article with advice for telecommuters. You can read the full article here, but in summary, here are the three things the author, Kevin Purdy, advises:

  1. Look the Part, Be the Part (dress up as if you’re going to the office)
  2. Schedule offline social time, batch your online social time (schedule your breaks, just like you’d do in the office)
  3. Realize when the problem is motivation, not space (do stuff that motivates you)

I have no argument with the second point, and in fact we endorse that in the book “Out of Office” when talking about personal productivity. But the other two points are more controversial.

First, I don’t believe it’s necessary to “suit up” if you’re working from home. Of course, I’m not suggesting you dress and act like a slob in your home office! But that’s just an extreme, and dressing up for the office is the other extreme. For many Out of Office workers, one of the biggest benefits is that every day is Casual Friday, and it’s good enough to dress comfortably. If you do find it helps to dress slightly better, then do so, but it’s certainly not necessary.

The other point – about working on stuff that motivates you – makes sense, but the advice isn’t always practical. We might all wish for more inspiring work, but that’s true whether or not we work in an office. Purdy doesn’t offer anything useful to improve the situation (other than a vague suggestion to “plan your next move”). Of course, if you can arrange to do something more meaningful and interesting, that helps. But sometimes you really do need to roll up your sleeves and do what needs to be done. In that latter situation, it’s far better to focus on being more productive rather than wishing for something better.

Stress Busters for Desk Workers: 5 Anxiety-Relieving Tips for Cubicle City

When you’re working Out of Office, you often don’t get the natural distractions that come from working with others. Although some of these distractions can be annoying and harmful to your productivity, they also have some positive side effects. In particular, they prevent you from spending excessively long intervals working at your desk. This means you have to be disciplined enough to create your own management plan to prevent stress, poor posture, and overwork.

The Workshifting team has five suggestions to help:

  1. Take frequent breathers.
  2. Stretch.
  3. Walk at lunch.
  4. Play some of your favorite tunes.
  5. Don’t be afraid to say No.

Read the full article here.

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