Shock horror, a non running post! However, in light of the current circumstances surrounding COVID-19 and the advised government/ global response many of us are finding ourselves working from home and I felt it useful to share some tips.
For many working from home will come naturally. Some of us already do it on a regular basis or simply prefer working in our own space. Whether this is a smooth transition depends a lot upon your line of work and the resources you have- something perhaps we can’t control. But in this time of uncertainty one thing we can control is our adaptability and mental resilience.
I have a permanent work from home day once a week and have done so for over a year now. Previously I did the majority of my PhD study from home, I’ve travelled and worked remotely and at one stage even ran my own business from a little desk I bought for £15 on eBay and shoved in my dining room. I’m very lucky to have a good and productive relationship with the concept of WFH, and wanted to share my tried and tested tips I’ve learned along the way in case they are of help to anyone.
Designate a consistent work space if you can. This could be a desk if you’re lucky enough to have one, a kitchen table, a space on the sofa. The one thing I would say is where possible avoid working from your bed, or even your bedroom. As tempting as it is, you need to differentiate between work and home- even when they’re slowly merging into each other. Set aside a workspace and a social space to give yourself that mental barrier.
Set an alarm and get up. Yes perhaps you don’t need to be up quite as early as a regular day commuting to the office, but keeping a morning ‘getting ready for work routine’ will help switch your brain and and get yourself into work mode. Get up wash your face, brush your hair and have your breakfast.
Similarly: get dressed! Or at least consider it! Yes we may be tempted to spend every day in our PJs but I’ve found slobbing about isn’t good for my productivity, but also when most of your team are working from home you might get an unexpected video call from your boss. So if PJ life is the one- at least rock a professional looking top half
Write a to do list and check things off as you go. It really will help keep you focused when the temptation to open the fridge and stare at your snacks for no reason strikes.
Take a lunch break, just like you would at work. Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to a lunch break. Get away from your laptop and your make shift work area and reclaim that lunch break.
Know your rights. It’s up to your place of work to supply you with the resources to work from home. That includes laptops, video conferencing etc. If their systems go down, or you need further support speak up, but don’t feel the burden of responsibility for things you cannot control or access.
Webchat platforms such as zooms or Microsoft teams are game changers. You can sign up for a free zoom account and get 40 minutes of video conferencing for free. And don’t just use these for formal meetings, have a virtual coffee and catch up with a colleague, it’s good to have a chat about your work and things going on with someone who understands what you do.
Have regular working hours. Just like in the office have regular working hours and try to log off at the same time each evening. This will help you avoid working into the evening but also offer consistency to your colleagues as to when they can reach you.
Share your mobile number, just in case and don’t be afraid to call colleagues if you need urgent advice or need greater clarification on something. Emails are great but sometimes picking up the phone is even better.
If you’re having to share your WFH space then set some boundaries eg making calls from a different room as not to disturb others working, or timing your lunch breaks together. I don’t have kids so can’t comment on any challenges this may bring, but I do have a rabbit who jumped into my lap during a video call….
Too loud/too quiet?! If like me you’re used to the hum of a shared office then putting a radio or a TV on very low in the background is good to replicate constant background noise. If you’re the opposite way and need a bit of quiet ear plugs are a great solution to helping you escape any noise. For some strange reason I also find putting headphones on but not listening to anything is a great way to help me focus, weird but it works!
It’s working from home, it’s not a holiday sorry! It is important to try be as productive as possible to help your colleagues, wider team and company. But at the same time it’s natural to find the transition to a new way of working tough and disruptive. If you find your productivity dipping keep trying to explore what helps keep your motivated and if things aren’t working re-assess. Be kind to yourself as you find your way through this unprecedented time.
At least your pets will enjoy your company working from home. Sending love and positive vibes to everyone during this uncertain and unprecedented time xxx