As more and more people are looking at working from home on a long time basis (rather than the couple of months they probably originally thought) it’s more important than ever to ensure that as well as working efficiently we look after ourselves. Therefore I’ve put together a few working at home tips to help you get through this. It’s a tricky time, what with covid, the prospect of having to work from home and be separated from family and friends as well as our work colleagues.
On top of this we have the current insecurities about jobs and concerns about family. It’s like the perfect storm of problems!
It’s very easy in situations like this to remember to drop off messages to an elderly relative or to keep in touch with friends who may be living on their own but……remember yourself.
These are very strange times we are going through. There has never been a situation like this so although you may not realize it, you may not be as productive as you might be. Set yourself realistic goals about what you can and can’t do and try to chill out when you have done them.
Whilst we’re talking about chilling out, remember that you need to break up your work day. When you were at your office you would not have sat in the same seat for hours on end, there would have been meetings, chats with the boss, moving to go and help someone at another desk and everything else.
So don’t spend hours on end sitting at your desk not moving. Give yourself a five or ten minute break every 40 minutes or so. Get up and move around and look at something else.
Make sure you take a lunch hour and if possible get outside and get some fresh air and some exercise if at all possible. At the end of the day see if you can fit in some light stretching or exercise with a quick work out (or longer if your up to it). Your back will thank you.
Try and stick to the timetable that you would have had before. So if you got up at six, showered and drove to work, try to stick to getting up at the same time then maybe do some exercise before your shower and grab some breakfast. Get dressed. Then, as we’ve said before make sure to get your lunch hour .
At the other end of the day come stopping time, shut down the computer, stop checking emails and go and do something else.
As we said if you can fit in some exercise then all the better but the children might be home from school or the tea might need made so don’t worry if you can’t manage to do everything.
At the end of the day remember your timetable again. If you normally went to bed at ten in order to get up then don’t be tempted to stay up a little later as you don’t have that commute!
As you’ll be working for a while you’ll need to try to allocate a particular space for working in. Ideally it could be in a spare room however this isn’t always possible but try to get a quiet corner somewhere that you can take over.
There’s nothing worse than having to clear away notes or paperwork at the end of the day and then not knowing where everything is the next day.
Get organized so that you have everything at hand, so pens, paper and all that you need. You don’t want to spend time trying to find that highlighter you know was in the cupboard somewhere.
Try not to use the sofa as your office, it may seem comfortable but it’s not a long term solution. Sit at a desk or table so that you adopt the correct posture. A spare room is a perfect solution and helps as one, you can close the door and keep any distractions at bay and two, when work is finished, you can close the door on the “office” for the day and do something else – out of sight, out of mind.
Get Yourself Connected
As you work from home, you’ll maybe enjoy your own company more, however you don’t want to turn into a recluse completely. Spending too much time on your own may end up with you feeling isolated.
So keep in touch with friends, colleagues and relatives. I try to schedule a “virtual coffee” break with a couple of my colleagues who I would normally chat to. It breaks up the day and allows us to speak about non-work related stuff while just keeping an eye on each other. A quick call to a friend may not only be helping you! Support each other.
Rather than typing an email to someone why not pick up the phone or video conference them. If you are struggling a little be sure to speak to someone, whether it’s a colleague or your boss at work. Don’t let these things drag on as you won’t be doing anyone any good just soldiering on!
Them’s the Rules
Working from home can be brilliant, you don’t have to keep getting that parcel redelivered, the groceries can be delivered at any time of the day and you will be home when the kids get in from school.
However, amongst all the good stuff, you still have to work, so don’t forget to let people know that just because you’re at home you are not on holiday. You need to discuss with them that while you are still working you may need your own space or that they can’t interrupt you. I’m sure they will understand and you’ll be able to spend time with them once work is finished.
On the flip side work needs to understand that once work is finished, you will not be answering emails or available that five minute task which ends up being two hours.
In it for The Long Haul
It may seem like it will be for a short time but as I type this it is looking like i’ll be working from home for another six months so take a long term look at where you are working and what improvements you could make.
Is there anything I can do to improve my work environment? Could I work out in the garden if it was warm? Are there any processes that now i’m working remotely can be done differently (we implemented a paperless office almost immediately and upgraded all the software to allow us to edit PDF’s – after ages of asking for it in the office!)
It’s not all bad news, working from home is a lot liberating if you manage it and take care of yourself. Hopefully it’s not permanent (unless you want it to be of course!)
If you are feeling down or finding things difficult then please don’t struggle on your own, there are loads of resources and help out there from the Mental Health At Work website to the NHS to mental health USA and there will be local resources available wherever you are. Speak to a friend, reach out to someone, you can even send me an email here at firstname.lastname@example.org. Whatever you do, take care!