The Coronavirus pandemic has forced a lot of people to rethink their working environment. Many businesses, charities and organisations have had no choice but to move their workforce to a work-from-home scenario. For some of us, this hasn’t meant a stark change; some offices have always offered a remote-working option and many will be used to the routine. However, the vast majority will now have to figure out how to carry out their work at home. This is no small challenge with the added pressures of childcare and social isolation. But, it is not impossible! Here are our five top tips for successfully working from home:
Have a permanent workspace
A common misconception of “WFH” days is that people “work from bed” or in their pyjamas. This is not the case. Anyone who works from home regularly will tell you that having an allotted desk space is a must. Having a set work space helps you get into the right frame of mind for productivity, and it can help you differentiate between your work day ending and your free time starting. Finishing work at 5pm and being in the same place (or same set of pyjamas…) isn’t great for morale!
Structure, Structure, Structure
Many workplaces have relaxed their working hours now that remote working is the ‘norm’. But, whatever your working hours are, try your best to stick to them. This isn’t easy for people with children, or those with other caring responsibilities. Nevertheless, where possible, stick to a routine. Try and make sure you get up at the same time every day, have a lunch break and regular – scheduled – breaks for exercise.
That brings us nicely onto our third tip, which is: don’t stay sat down staring at screens all day! Stretching is important, and is encouraged for office working generally to alleviate chronic health problems and avoid burnout. Now you can have a big stretch and groan/shout without being embarrassed or disturbing half the office. Do anything you can for a brief change of scenery – take advantage of your one exercise outing a day, do yoga, or take a short trip to the garden if you have one.
Be in touch
No doubt your employers will have created a communication tool for you to keep in touch – something a little more immediate than e-mail. Whether it’s Teams, Slack, Zoom or a combination of all three, make sure you’re checking in on your colleagues and that they’ll check in on you. Communication can be difficult at the best of times, so it’s really important to make the extra effort when we’re all miles apart.
Take advantage of online training
There is an unprecedented level of empty time that comes with working from home in this scenario. The rules have changed and there are things you simply won’t be able to do anymore depending on your role. At the very least, lockdown probably means significantly less commuting time! If you’ve found yourself at a loose end without any work to do, see if your line manager can arrange some of that online training you’ve been meaning to do for the past three years – the one you keep mentioning in your appraisal! Likewise, if you’re stuck for something to do on an evening, widen your horizons with distance-learning courses in subjects you’re passionate about.
No one really has all the answers for fully effective working during a lockdown – we all have different roles and demands, and the pandemic is something we have never experienced before. But, as a starting point, these basic tips will stand you in good stead as you adapt to you new home-working adventure.