Covid-19: Making The Most Of Working From Home
Struggling with how to work from home? Here are some tips to make it that little bit easier.
Covid-19 is continuing to upheave our everyday lives, and with stronger restrictions coming in, working from home looks like it could be the new normal for a while...
So, how do you make working from home, work for you?
For lots of modern professionals, a select number of working from home days per month are considered a luxury but are offered by companies as a perk in the contract. So if this is such a perk, why does it suddenly seem incredibly daunting and difficult?
One way to look at it is, that right now you’re not really being asked to work from home. You’re being asked to support the national effort in fighting a health crisis by trying to work from your house instead of the office. It can feel overwhelming! And if you’re also trying to homeschool children at the same time, it may seem totally impossible.
Below are a few tips that might bring some clarity and structure to your life and mind, and help you manage working from home a little better.
Routine Routine Routine
You can decide what time you’ll start work, but you’ll need a good routine to actually get you into the chair and ready to go. It’s essential to have a go to morning wake-up routine. Maybe it’s getting up, showering and dressing in normal clothes, brewing the coffee and eating your breakfast all before turning the computer on. Perhaps it’s 20 minutes of yoga, or a jog (if permitted)! Create that morning routine that ends with you sitting at your desk/table and opening your email.
Schedule your breaks too. Know the company’s policy on breaks and actually take them! Take a full lunch hour away from your screen, and your designated coffee breaks without shortchanging yourself. There are apps you can download that make sure you can’t access your PC again until your break time is up. If you know you’ll struggle to take a break, this could be a great way of ensuring you’re getting that time away from the screen.
Your end of day routine is just as important as your morning one too. Whether it’s a sign off on your business messaging app/email or participating in a virtual online exercise class. Whatever it is, make it a ritual to mark the end of your working day.
Also, stick to your contract hours as best as you can. Just because you’re at home, doesn’t mean you now have to work for longer.
Assign A Dedicated Work Space
Your bed and your couch are leisure spaces. They are not designed for work and they will not foster creativity or productivity. Dedicate a specific room/surface away from these areas so you can associate it with work.
If you only use one laptop for both work and personal things, it’s good to establish some separation here. If you have a monitor and external keyboard maybe consider making that your work equipment and when the laptop’s disconnected and on your lap, that’s your personal zone.
If you don’t have a monitor, you may wish to consider having two separate accounts on the laptop for work time and personal time or use an external hard drive for your work docs.
Restrict Social Media
Social media platforms are designed to make it easy for you to open them and access them quickly, making them totally detrimental to productivity.
Remove your socials from your browser shortcuts, and log out of every account. Try to use an incognito browser/private browser window when working as this ensures you will stay logged out of those accounts and each web search doesn’t autocomplete the word you’re typing.
On your phone? Put a time limit on your apps or schedule in your day’s diary when you’re allowed to check in with your socials.
Plan your task list before the day begins, preferably the day before. Of course, it’s important to let your agenda change if it needs to, but it’s also important to try and solidify and commit to your planned to-do list. This will help make your days feel more official, despite being at home.
When you’re working remotely, over-communication is unavoidable. You need to keep everyone in the loop about your availability and your schedule regularly. When you finish a task, let your manager know and when you’re taking your break, tell your team. It does mean repeating yourself, but it's essential to ensure transparency and clarity around your working day for your colleagues.
Get Some Fresh Air
This rule applies to all workers. Leave home, leave the office. It’s vital to get out and move your body throughout the day whether it’s your house or your office building. Fresh air and natural light will rejuvenate and re-energise you.
If your country isn’t in full lockdown and you’re allowed outdoor exercise time, make sure you take it. If you have a courtyard, balcony, or garden, get out there! Water the plants, weed the flowerbed… you get the picture.
If you don’t have outdoor space, and you’re not allowed to leave your home even for exercise, open the window and read/eat next to it. Get the sunlight on your face, and breathe in the outdoors. Take part in an online exercise class too to get the blood going.
Remember, if you’re allowed to exercise outdoors, make sure to observe social distancing of at least 2 meters to help protect yourself and your community from spreading coronavirus.
Embrace The Perks
When you work in an office full-time, it was probably a struggle to find time or motivation for anything outside working hours due to your commute or less sleep.
Now you are at home, embrace the perks. Eat with your children earlier, bake a loaf of bread, practice a skill you’ve been meaning to work on. You deserve to dedicate this extra time you may find yourself with to you. This lockdown won’t last forever so make the most of it.
You may feel overwhelmed at the moment, and disappointed that things seem to be turning back. But allowing yourself the time to optimise your space now will help you with your work life more in the coming months.
Don't neglect friends, now more than ever it's important to stay in touch. Communication with your loved ones and your colleagues could be your saving grace to get through this.