Working from Home – Tips to make it work in lockdown
With so many people now working from home, it’s almost become the new normal, and social media is full of tips on how to make it as productive as possible. But, with everyone having different jobs and different workspaces, with some people living alone, others with family or flatmates, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution for everybody. In reality working from home can be difficult if you’re not used to it, so we’ve put together some tips that could help you.
Alternate your work areas
• Sit in different places to work - You can’t do it in the office, but in your own home you have the pick of where to set up. Perhaps start at the kitchen table in the morning then move to the sofa if you have something that needs your full attention or a long video call.
• Try a standing desk - There’s a lot of debate as to whether standing whilst you work increases productivity, but you’ll definitely move around more. Why not try taking a few calls on your feet or answering those emails whilst standing. There’s also a theory that a standing desk can help if you’re starting to feel claustrophobic in your workspace.
Exercise and Self-Care
• Try meditating before and after work - Even if you’ve never tried meditation, studies have shown that just a few minutes can really help you focus your thoughts and relax.
• Move around - If you’re no longer walking to the other end of the office to make a cup of tea, or getting up to go to the printer, you’re likely to stay in one place for much longer. Every so often, get up and do a few simple stretches. In the privacy of your own home, no-one is going to see if you suddenly swing your arms above your head or do a few lunges!
• Step outside - If possible, use your break to go for a walk to get some fresh air. A change of scenery is really great in helping to lower your stress levels and maintain your concentration levels.
Keep a routine
• Set the alarm for the same time each day - Make sure you give yourself time to get into the frame of mind that your commute to work normally provides. Waking up fifteen minutes before your first Zoom call may not be the most productive way to start the day.
• Get dressed - Pyjamas might be tempting but getting dressed every day subconsciously puts you into a more professional frame of mind. You may not need to wear a suit at the moment, but neither should you stick to your favourite fluffy dressing gown.
• Take regular breaks - make a cup of tea, look out of the window, have a quick chat with your family or colleagues. Sitting in front of your screen for hours without a break is not healthy.
• Give yourself a lunchbreak – you may skip lunch in the office, but with the kitchen so close you have no excuse to take a break and make yourself a sandwich or snack. Take time away from your laptop or screen to eat it. It will help you focus for the afternoon.
• Turn everything off and put it away/ close it down - You may not be able to step out of the office each day and switch off on your commute home, but you can make sure that at the end of your working day you move to the part of your home where you normally relax.
During work hours
• Stay off social media – It may be tempting but it’s a terrible time waste, especially if there’s no one to stop you scrolling endlessly through your phone. Close the apps and move your phone just out of reach if you need to.
• Listen to music – Background music can actually help your mood and productivity and block out the sounds of the washing machine. It can also mimic the noise of your office environment, helping you concentrate, and you can always mute it when you have to have a meeting or call.
• Check in with your co-workers - Working from home can be isolating – so make sure you’re meeting or talking to your team as much as your work allows. Those two-minute chats at the water cooler can often give you the chance to recharge, so working from home shouldn’t mean you can’t still connect with colleagues
Sharing your home
Working from with children can be tricky to balance work productivity with entertaining, schooling your children.
• Be flexible as much as possible - Plan meetings around naptimes. Try working early mornings if its suitable.
• Keep them occupied - Start a film or favourite TV programme before an important call or meeting or deadline.
• For older children set a boundary – if a post-it note is on the door or on the top of the monitor, let them know you can’t be disturbed.
• Set a creative task or project – Give children something to do each day that will keep them busy.
• Use your breaks - Talk to your partner or play with your children, walk the dog, spend time with the cat or feed the fish.
• Communicate - Let everyone in the house know if you have an important meeting or call to take. Avoid being disturbed by family or flatmates when speaking to clients or colleagues
Create a happy and calming workspace
• Work with as much natural light as you can - A room with any kind of view will increase your ability to be able to focus. If that’s not an option for you, make sure your workspace is well lit.
• Try to keep your working area tidy - Messy and cluttered work surfaces can be distracting.
• Make your workspace appealing with greenery - If you can, get some plants as they improve the air quality of your workspace as well as giving your eyes a break from screen time.
Above all, it’s important to do what’s best for you. This is a new normal, and everyone is just doing their best. They are finding new ways to work and live with different working hours and routines so whatever you do, make sure it works for you.