Mention the C word and it strikes a myriad of emotions into any one you meet at the moment. Coronavirus has brought, and no doubt will continue to bring, disruption to just about every aspect of our lives. Work is probably one of the biggest. With companies sending their workforce home with barely a word of notice, healthy people are finding themselves working in an all too familiar environment not really designed for office work. A bit of a strange quandary.
Add in kids sent home from school, other halves sent home from work, curious pets and it becomes one hell of a challenge.
For me actually it is not a problem at all as I have worked at home for many years. But I totally appreciate the frustrations and anxieties people might feel and so I thought I would share a few of my tips for productively working from home. Hope they help!
Get up at the usual time. It’s important for your mind to believe you are in work mode and a routine is part of that
Make your bed. Strange as it sounds, this small act accomplishes a task and sets you up to accomplish more
Get dressed. Wandering around the house in your PJ’s tells your mind that today is a slounchy day, not a productive one. Plus if you suddenly find yourself on the end of a Skype call you could find that very embarrassing!
Get your tech set up properly. Staying in touch and online with your work colleagues and clients will be essential so it is really important to ensure your wifi works really well. Talk to your IT team to make sure you can access all the documents you need online – it can be a real time waster going round in circles trying to find things. Ensure your work email is connected to your smart phone, while as a rule it’s discouraged for people to be glued to their email out of hours, during a time of crisis which this is heading towards, means you will be juggling different things and if you can respond to an email while you are trying to sort the kids then work can still go on.
Set up an office area. We are not all blessed with lots of spare space but if you can create a private area which is not at the kitchen table where accidental spills might find themselves, but which is quiet with no barking dogs or kiddie tv, has a good supportive chair and proper lighting and where you can close all your precious documents away from curious kids or pets, then you will find yourself well and truly set up.
We are social creatures so it’s important to interact with others so as not to feel isolated and alone
Coping with working in isolation. The biggest challenge people find working from home is loneliness. If you have been working in a busy office, the general office hum, banter, and cheeriness of your work colleagues can be sorely missed. For me, I tend to use my lunch break as an opportunity to scan through social media, message a friend, or have a coffee with a neighbour – the Swedes call this Fika time and they incorporate it into their daily work lives. Getting some fresh air and sunshine does wonders for our overall wellbeing and productivity so if you have a dog, get out and get some exercise, and if you don’t still get out!
Working from home shouldn’t mean soldiering through alone. As sociable creatures, we crave interaction with others so don’t feel bad if you take time out to talk to someone, you will find you are energised after. And don’t forget your work buddies and colleagues, try and interact with them face to face on platforms like Skype or Zoom so you can see each other, compare quality of biscuits, views, pot plants or whatever! Maybe set up a routine of group calls so the team can all start the day together, plan who is doing what and give everyone the motivation and inspiration they need.
Take lots of little breaks. Your new environment may take a bit of getting used to as it has not necessarily been set up to feel a place of work. For this reason, I think it is good to take a few short breaks. You can throw a load in the laundry while the kettle is boiling and hey you are a multi tasker. The few minutes away from your desk will refresh your mind and help you to come back to your work with renewed vigour.
Why not save the money you would have spent on travel and buy yourself a treat when all this is over?
Treat yourself. Why not put the money you would have spent on travel into a treat pot and when all this is over you can give yourself a little treat?! Maybe a new pair of shoes or a night out with pals. Or maybe use the time you would have used commuting to do something for you like go to the gym, read a book, take time out with the kids, or even take up a new hobby.
The virus might actually have a positive if you can believe that. If we all can work effectively from home and demonstrate to our employers we can be trusted to deliver and are not out messing about, this could open up a new way of working for the future. Working remotely can be better for the environment and cheaper because of the reduction in travel, tech is so good now we really can practically work anywhere (depending on your job of course). Commuting adds to stress and we all know how bad that is. So, let’s all pull together and see if we can make this work. Flexible working could be something we all enjoy and benefit from, and if businesses look a bit deeper into this and shed the mantle of old thinking, they may find a more cost efficient way of working and a happier workforce.