Working From Home - Get it Right
Updated: Apr 9
As more and more people are forced to work remotely due to the Coronavirus you may find yourself working from home for the first time.
Whilst this may sound great, many people find it’s not what they expected.
Fortunately by following these simple bits of advice you can maximise your productivity and minimise any feelings of isolation.
Whilst the opportunity to rollover in bed and turn on your computer may sound irresistible, transitioning straight from sleep to work is jarring. On the way into the office we often have some time for reflection or mental preparation for the day ahead.
Follow your usual morning routine to help you get into a productive frame of mind. Even if you are not consciously planning out the day to come, you’re giving your mind time to prepare. Getting dressed into your usual work clothes can help you differentiate between home working, and home life.
Create a dedicated work space
Rather than sitting on the couch (or even your bed!) create a space that is dedicated for work. It’s even better if you can have a separate room for this purpose
, but it’s not essential - having a specific chair at a table is fine and will help you mentally switch into “work mode.”
If you’re working from home for the first time your day may seem like a blank page – while this will initially be liberating, for some people it can also be overwhelming. You may feel that you have all the time in the world and set high expectations for yourself, then find that the day has disappeared and you have little to show for it. Fortunately by following a couple of simple steps you can maximise your productivity and mental well being.
Working hours: Aim to maintain your current office hours. These are there for a reason and knowing when your work day starts and ends will give you focus and clarity. You know what to expect of yourself and your colleagues will also know when you are and aren’t available.
Planning: Before you start working make a list of what you need to do today. Detail what tasks are urgent and which tasks can be done later on, which tasks are most important and which are least important. It’s a good practice to carry out the most demanding tasks first, that way you’re at your most alert and focussed while attempting them. This doesn’t work for everyone though, so if you need to start the day with light administrative tasks to ease your way in don’t feel disheartened, finding what works for you is most important.
Once you have your to do-list, set out your day into blocks of 25 minute periods, interspersed with 5 minute breaks. This may feel like you’re building-in a lot of downtime but remember when you’re at the office there are a lot of distractions too and you’re rarely working at full capacity for the whole day. Short bursts of concentrated work, with frequent breaks away from your screen, will be more productive than sitting in front of your laptop for hours at a time.
Lunch: Have an idea of what you’re going to eat for lunch – write it down so you’re less tempted to graze throughout the day and have something to look forward to! When you’ve finished eating remember to get up and take a walk around your house/flat, or outside if you’re not socially isolating – raising your heartbeat will help you avoid feeling sleepy after your meal.
Stay in touch
Working from home can be exciting, but it can also be lonely, especially if you’re used to a busy office every day. Once you’re into the flow of things and are managing your time so you’re productive and proactive, you may find yourself becoming more and more isolated. Try to vary your work where possible, schedule conference/voice calls to make sure you’re still socially connecting with people rather than just sending emails/IMs – a one minute phone call will make you feel less isolated, and be more productive than a series of one line emails. Catch up with your colleagues, customers and team mates wherever possible. Make time in these conversations to speak socially, as well as discussing what people are working on, let your colleagues know what challenges you are facing as well.
You can follow all of the above to the letter, but if you’re sat in front of a blaring television your mind will be elsewhere. Given the rapidly evolving circumstances it is tempting to have the news channels on constantly, however it will most likely be better for you to just check the news and/or your social media in your break times, rather than refreshing the same pages all day.
Some people find that they work well with music on in the background - instrumental or classical music is generally the least distracting but remember to keep the volume low. Listening to the radio rather than Spotify/CDs might be better for you as programmes are broken up by the news so you can align this with your breaks.
If you find you’re really struggling with staying off social media/other sites, then there are technical steps available. Apps like Forest and Freedom will limit your access to websites/apps for a certain time. Check with your employer first though before installing anything onto company equipment!
One last thing…while you’re working from home you may find yourself developing new aches and pains – make sure you’re following the NHS guidelines for sitting in front of your computer for long periods
That’s it for this week and should be enough to get you started.
Join us next week for some tips on things to do (and not do!) while video-calling