If your usual place of work is the office, it’s likely that you have been asked to work from home in recent times due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown. No doubt, you’ve found it a both challenging and rewarding experience. It might be that, as a result of this adaptation to the way we work, some organisations may look to continue with more roles working remotely either on a semi or more permanent basis.
We’ve gathered some useful tips for you to consider going forward.
Your home office
It is important to evaluate how well your environment suits your needs. Your home working space should follow the same standards as any office environment and if in doubt, ask your HR team or health and safety officer for advice if you find that your current arrangements aren’t helping you to maximise your productivity. Ask yourself the following, and if the space still needs improvement, address it as quickly as possible:
- Are your desk and chair comfortable, or are you experiencing any back problems?
- Is your space quiet enough? If you’re finding that it’s difficult to focus because of housemates, your children or partner, consider finding a space with a door so that you can hang a sign on it asking others to give you quiet time when you need it.
- Do you have enough lighting? Is the lighting suitable for video conferencing? One tip is to ensure that you’re never facing the camera with a window behind you as colleagues may have difficulty seeing you.
- Are your cables tidy and out of the way so they don’t present a trip hazard?
- Do you know where to find files and other paperwork easily and quickly?
- Do your smoke detectors work properly?
- Are you taking breaks or lunch at your desk? If so, change your environment when you’re taking time out.
Your emotional wellbeing
Human beings are social animals, so working from home may have taken some getting used to. You may have found ways to cope with feelings of isolation or you may still be struggling.
Keeping to a schedule is important for our wellbeing so if you’re finding that you’re ‘out of sorts’, consider the following:
- Wake up at your usual time. Granted, you won’t have a commute ahead of you, but you’ll need enough time for your morning shower, breakfast and any personal tasks before you start your working day. Don’t roll out of bed and straight onto your computer or work calls. You’ll feel disorganised and this will come across to others.
- Even though you’re not in an office, wear something smart casual during working hours. This doesn’t mean that you have to wear a suit when working from home, but day clothes will help you to start your working day mentally focused and ready.
- Let your friends and family know that even when you’re working from home, you’re unavailable for visits. Say you’ll return their calls and emails after working hours.
- Hydrate throughout the day to maintain mental focus but avoid consuming too much caffeine.
- It can be tempting to tidy the house, do the dusting or throw the laundry in while you’re working. But before you know it, one thing leads to another…how many times have you started tidying only to find that the table needs polishing or the houseplants need watering? Housework can wait and don’t be tempted to use your lunch hour to do the chores!
- Many people enjoy social media and it can be tempting to log on for ‘just a minute’ to check for updates. Ensure that your favourite websites aren’t open during the day and if you receive updates to your personal email account, disable them during working hours. Dealing with distractions is about minimising distractions in the first place.
- Update your online office diary every day and ensure that your colleagues have access to it. You and your co-workers may all be working from home but it’s important that you all know when you’re unavailable due to conference calls.
- Connect with your manager and colleagues during the day – even a quick ‘hello’ can help you to feel a part of office life. If you have the IT systems in place, you and your team might also choose to have face-to-face contact via video conferencing.
- When you finish for the day, shut down your workspace for the night. Get out for a walk (heeding current public health precautions), catch up with friends and family, or simply relax. Working from home doesn’t mean that you don’t have a personal life.