To reduce the spread of the Coronavirus outbreak and adhere to the #StayHomeSaveLives message, in the last few days, many of us have been rearranging our lives into a new normal which includes the reality of working from home for the foreseeable future.
Ordinarily, flexible working, or more specifically, working from home, is seen as a highly desirable perk which is offered by many companies to attract and retain talented staff. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of us are having to learn, very quickly, the reality of what working from home really entails.
Aside from the obvious appeal of not having to commute into work every day, there are so many things to consider. With the schools also shut down, many of you may also be juggling the role of home-teacher alongside your work. You could be setting yourself to fail, if you don’t put in place particular measures to structure your working day.
We asked Gemma Lloyd, Co-CEO and founder of workplace equality champions Work180, to share her six top tips on how to work from home successfully.
Set your alarm
This is not setting your alarm to wake-up in the morning. It’s actually setting your alarm to STOP work. When you work from home, it’s extremely easy to lose track of time as you don’t need to leave the office to go home. Set a schedule and stick to it, to maintain a good work-life balance. You can find yourself sitting in the same spot for hours on end, and before you know it, it’s 7pm and you’ve been working for 12 hours with barely a break. If you’ve got children to look after, you could be over-compensating under the false belief that you’ve not done enough work. This isn’t healthy and the quality of your work will suffer over time. Set an alarm at the beginning of the day when you start your working day so that you know when you need to clock-off. If you still want to work overtime, that’s fine; hit the snooze button – but much like we wouldn’t sleep in too long, don’t work too late.
Shower and get dressed
Create a morning routine that ends with you starting work. It could be going for a run or making a cup of coffee. It could be as simple as taking a shower and getting dressed. Why wouldn’t you shower? Countless stats show that many people tumble out of bed and sit in their PJ’s all day while working. Aside from the obvious cleanliness benefits of showering, it wakes you up! It makes you believe you are going into an office like you would any other day. Whereas if you do sit in your pyjamas, it’s easy to feel sluggish and not as productive as you usually would.
Set up a good workspace
Avoid drifting between working on your couch, to the dining table and even the bedroom. Set up a proper office for yourself as you work from home. It might be worth investing in an ergonomic chair and desk. A comfortable working position is vital to avoid longer term back issues. Some employers would cover these costs so it’s worth raising it with your manager. Plenty of natural light in the room is also beneficial, along with any pictures, plants or artwork – this can be a huge upside of not working in a dreary office space.
Ensure you have regular mini-breaks to get up, stretch and move around when working from home. Even a quick walk around the house will do you the power of good. Make sure you take your lunch break every day, and if possible, try and take it at the same time to establish a routine. It’s worth trying to get out of the house for a short period, use your “one form of exercise per day” outside time, wisely. Perhaps go to a park nearby. At the very least, if you have a garden, walk around it a few times, just to avoid cabin fever from staring at four walls all day.
Utilise social networks
Most organisations will have an internal social network such as Skype or Slack. You are going to rely on this more when everyone is working remotely. It’s important to keep yourself connected and social especially when working from home. If you don’t have a built-in work network, then create your own. Emails are impersonal so consider setting up a group video chat, and dial in daily to see how people are doing. Regular communication with your work colleagues is vital during this period, not just to ensure you are working as efficiently as possible, but also so you don’t feel isolated.
Set ground rules
It’s important to set some ground rules straight away with people you share your home with, particularly if you don’t have a separate room to designate as your office. If your partner too can work from home, or you have kids, they will inevitably want your attention. Introduce some clear rules about when you can and cannot be disturbed and try as much as possible to ensure your family sticks to them.
It’s going to take time to embed these good working from home habits, but that’s okay, we’ve got plenty of time to get used to it.