How To Survive Working From Home
With the UK in the clutches of Covid-19, and the PM telling people they should stay away from the office, millions of us are now facing the prospect of working from home for the foreseeable future. Ordinarily, flexible working is seen as a highly desirable perk which is offered by many companies to attract and retain talented staff. Now working from home has become a necessity. And while there’s an obvious appeal to not having to commute into work every day, many people may not have worked from home before or for an extended period, and there can be downsides if you don’t put in place particular measures to structure your working day.
Gemma Lloyd, Co-CEO and founder of workplace equality champions Work180, shares her top tips on successfully working from home. Gemma has helped hundreds of companies implement policies to attract and support women in the workplace, including flexible working.
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 working 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 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. 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 eight hour shift so 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. I know, why wouldn’t you shower? But if I had a pound for the number of times people who told me they wake up and sit in their PJ’s all day while working, I’d be rich. 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. 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, particularly if you have a park nearby that you can walk around. Millions of us are going to be cooped up in our homes for days on end. If it’s possible to pop out for a short, brisk walk, away from crowds, then take the opportunity to do that. 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 you have kids, they will inevitably want your attention when they come home from school. Introduce some clear rules about when you can and cannot be disturbed and make sure the family sticks to them. You should also lay down some rules around tasks that you wouldn’t normally do while at work such as answering the door for deliveries or looking after pets. Make it clear that during your working day you aren’t available to do any other tasks, unless absolutely necessary. That way you won’t be distracted.