By: Martin Baxter of Kingsbridge Contractor Insurance.
While lockdown is hopefully almost over, the past year has undoubtedly changed the future of work for all – including self-employed contractors and freelancers. With it being reported last month that 43 out of the 50 biggest employers do not plan to return to the office full-time after lockdown, home working is more than likely here to stay. Plus, with a Government source revealing that Ministers will not tell workers to return to the office, we might not see the restart of daily commutes as expected on the 19th July.
As a self-employed contractor or freelancer, you probably already had some flexibility over your working practices before the first lockdown. However, the many changes over the last year have proved that a lot of work can be done effectively from home. Meetings can be carried out remotely. Focused work can be done without distractions. Project management tools can be used to help handle projects. So, as home working is here to stay, Kingsbridge Contractor Insurance has got some tips on how the self-employed can manage their week effectively when working from home.
Have a routine to your working week
The last year or so has been back and forth, in and out. If you’re a parent, you also may have had to balance your work around home-schooling, doing the school runs and child-care. Now that the schools are fully open, and we have a prospective end date for lockdown restrictions easing, you should start thinking about your working calendar. Have your working hours or days changed? Review your working hours, and if you have set working hours and days each week that aren’t the typical 9-5, it might be a good idea to let your clients know and pop your working hours on your email signature.
Once you’ve sorted your working hours, you should also consider if you are going to need to be in the office at all. If you are an IT contractor who needs to be in the office occasionally to check the servers, perhaps you could book yourself into the office every Tuesday. And you could schedule a Monday morning meeting to check in with your client/clients on the progress of the project you are involved in.
Take regular screen breaks from your work
When you go into the office, you don’t usually spend 8 hours a day just staring at your screen. Your day is probably broken up by meetings, having a catch-up with your client, and nipping out to grab some lunch. But when working from home, it’s a lot easier to find the day has gone by with you barely getting up from your screen, with meetings taking place over teams and grabbing last night’s leftovers for lunch while still working on your project. Not only is it bad for your eyes, as you should be taking regular screen breaks, but it can also have a determinantal effect on your wellbeing and leave you feeling fatigued.
It’s important to take regular breaks away from your screen. There are many ways you can do this:
- If you need to query something with a client, give them a call instead of sending an email.
- Set a timer every few hours to take a five-minute break. Pop the kettle on or put a load of washing in.
- Go for a walk around the block at lunch.
Video calls can help you manage your week
Love them or hate them, the likes of Zoom and Teams are here to stay. By now, you’ve probably exhausted all the face filters and space backgrounds, and the novelty of video calls has gone. That said, video calls can help you to plan your week and save you time, so use them to your advantage. Ask yourself, do you really need to make the three-hour drive for a half-hour meeting? We’ve all experienced making the long journey to a meeting, only to have it cancelled 10 minutes before it’s due to start. So, if you don’t think you need to be there in person, save yourself the commute and send a virtual invite instead.
Check your insurance
When working as a limited company contractor, you may have let your insurance lapse when working from home, but it’s important to ensure your business activities are covered. The first step is to check your contract, as if it’s a requirement, you could be breaching your contract by not holding it. And just because you are working from home, mistakes can still happen, so holding professional indemnity insurance would help to mitigate this risk. If you do need to sort your business insurance, one option you could look at is Kingsbridge Contractor Insurance.