Daney Parker, Editor, PRmoment.com
For many in PR, working from home has certainly brought its challenges, including finding a space that works for work. We discuss a study that looks into the issues of working from home and ask PRs for top tips for adapting homes so they meet professional needs as well as personal ones.
Invest in the right equipment
James Crawford, managing director at PR Agency One: “Working from home clearly isn’t a temporary measure anymore and so it has been essential over the past 10 months for the team to find ways to work effectively independently, whilst still maintaining a sense of collectiveness and community.
“It is important that our team has the resources to set up a comfortable working space, particularly if they are living in shared or rented accommodation, which is why we have provided each employee a WFH allowance. Whether it’s a new desk an employee is after or simply stationary supplies, investing in the team’s working spaces can help boost productivity and make working from home easier.
“PR is, at its core, a client-facing industry and so it’s essential that we still present ourselves in a professional and impressive way. Whilst there is an understanding that a corporate setting without any disturbances is difficult to achieve at home, we are incorporating new camera apps and audio equipment into our virtual processes to ensure optimal quality and a professional appearance. From virtual calls with journalists, catching up with existing clients or pitching to prospective clients, making a good, long-lasting impression is still fundamental.”
Move it around
Ali Cort, client services director Browser Media says "The problem with home offices is that they are static – we sit in one place for the entire day. The same was not true when we were office-based – we'd collaborate at each other's desk, brainstorm in the boardroom, chat around the coffee machine. It can be difficult being creative when sitting in the same room, looking at the same four walls so I'd recommend that whilst it's useful having a 'base', switch it up and work in different places in your home if you can. Even if it's just for an hour here or there, I find it helps get my brain firing in different ways by being in new(ish) surroundings."
Make your space your own
Stephanie Masters, director at Wall Nuts Murals: “Within the space of a few short weeks, Covid-19 turned many of our working worlds upside down.
“For the vast majority of office workers, collaborative and fully optimised office set ups were very quickly replaced with cramped dining rooms, and face-to-face meetings were kicked aside by pixelated zoom calls.
“Running my own graphic and wall mural design business from home, I decided to fully transform, what was a spare bedroom, into a bright and inspiring office. Somewhere I enjoyed being, that made me feel good and not only reflected me and by brand, but also provided a stand-out backdrop to the ever-increasing online zoom meetings.
“The wall mural I designed and created not only showcases how I can help others. but provides a talking point and a bit of an icebreaker too. Now I’d go as far as to say my office is the best room in the house!”
Three top tips for Zoom calls
1. Make a feature of your clients’ products
Claire Russell, founder of consultancy Park PR: “I've worked from home for years and am very fortunate to have a separate office space. I've been used to having client samples here in my home office, but quickly had to adapt and make the space look more professional with clients’ products on a rack in the background as opposed to a stack of cardboard boxes and packaging supplies!“
2. Concentrate on the background
Siena Clarke, director at PR agency The Brand Whisperer: “My top three priorities for a home working setup are comfort, ‘Zoom-ability’ and no distractions. My workspace has to be warm and relatively cosy, otherwise I just can’t concentrate.
“PR is still very much about networking and talking to people, even in the midst of a pandemic, so I’ve worked to make sure my Zoom backdrop is not distracting and doesn’t change (ie, no opening and closing doors, etc). No virtual beaches for me, sadly, just a plain wall with a memorable painting… you’ll have to Zoom me to see what it is!”
3. Think about lighting
Siena Clarke: “I’m generally an early-adopter of toys and gizmos, so near the start of the first lockdown I invested in a clip-on light for my laptop, so that my face appears well-lit in virtual meetings, and looks the right colour (some lights are harsh white, and can make the subject look seriously unwell – not good right now!). It’s been seriously worth it.”
Research into WFH challenges
Paul Garner, head of ecommerce at Ultra LEDs, discusses a study into the challenges that home workers face these days:
“We recently carried out a study about attitudes towards working from home. The study found that 72% of workers are currently working from home as a result of the pandemic and, although 28% are happy to be doing so, more than one in three believe it is having a negative impact on their mental health.
“The top things that workers found to be negatively affecting their experience working at home were revealed to be limited space (45%), feeling isolated from other team members (39%), and not having the right office equipment (32%).
“To help solve these problems, the study found that 47% of workers are planning to invest in their home offices in 2021, with the average person planning to spend up to £200 on the renovations. When it comes to improving your office, simple adjustments such as comfortable seating or better lighting can help make you more comfortable and working easier.”
Even if you don’t have the budget to transform your space into somewhere ideal, reorganising the area and maybe repainting a wall (or two) can make a great deal of difference to the feel of the space, and how you feel working there.
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