New government recommendations suggest that we work from home, wherever possible. Which is a bit of a game changer. There are lots of people that have never experienced working from home before. Although it seems like an absolute joy (and it can be), it also comes with a fair share of challenges. As an organisation that is mainly run from a home office, we wanted to share our own experience on how you can make the adjustment.
Stick to a routine
When you’re working from home, there can be a bit of a shift in your working routine. However, it’s imperative that you kind of stick to one.
We’d suggest you continue getting up at the same time every single day. It may be a little later than normal, as you’ll not have to make the commute, but whatever time you deem appropriate, stick to it. You can actually feel groggier if you stay in bed too long and it’ll make it harder to get going.
This is also important for your mealtimes and exercise. When you don’t need to leave the house, you can end up in a bit of a slowed routine and this induces low mood.
You’ll want an appropriate and dedicated workspace. It may seem appealing to work from your bed or from the sofa but believe us, it’s not good for you. You’ll end up with back ache and or leg ache, it’s harder to get focused and you’ll often lack energy in these spaces. More so, these are spaces designated to unwind. You don’t want to blur boundaries between work and leisure as it can make it difficult to switch off at the end of the day.
Plus, and we’re just putting this out there, you can’t watch a show or movie (even ones you’ve seen before) and not get distracted by it! Music is fine but whatever you do, don’t turn on the TV.
If you don’t have an office, you may decide to use the dining room/kitchen table. You want something with a sturdy structure to hold your computer, elevate your screen so it is at eye level and you want a chair that is supportive.
There could also come a time when your little ones are off school and you’re having to all be under the same roof whilst you’re trying to work.
This can be really tricky, depending on their ages. However, it’s important to outline some clear boundaries when you’re trying to work from home. You have probably seen the post of the proud mum who left home, said goodbye to her children to make them believe she was going to work, then climbing in through a window and working from home. But another idea may be to sit at the same table so you can watch them do activities whilst you work. Children love to mimic their parents so you can give them ‘work-based’ activities to do so they feel like they’re contributing or doing what you’re doing.
Lots of (American) websites have made fun educational content available for free to help you. You can find worksheets and experiments or let them explore museums and national parks or watch science videos if they have access to a screen. Check some of them out below:
- National Geographic kids “The whackiest places around the world”
- Great Wall of China virtual travel
- Yellowstone National Park tour
Just like staying in bed, you’ll no doubt relish at the opportunity to stay in your pyjamas for the day.
We don’t recommend it though. It’s really important, for your mindset, to get up, shower and get dressed for the day. It’s also far more hygienic. It’s all par and parcel of your new routine.
Plus, you may have a need to jump on a conference call or video chat and no-one wants to see you in your pyjamas or half dressed (and it just reflects badly).
We’re social creatures so it’s super weird to suddenly be cut off from everyone (however, it sure does give you a new perspective on what it must be like to be older!). If you don’t have one already, set up a work group chat on WhatsApp, Slack or Viber, it could be just for a little office banter to stay cohesive but it’s also a great way to show you’re thinking of and active at work.
Additionally, if you’re stuck for something to do, because sometimes it’s harder to ask for help when you’re working remotely, check in and offer a hand. This is sure to get noticed by your managers.
While you want to show you are working hard from home, it can be too easy to get super focused on what you’re working on and lose track of time. You don’t have your colleagues offering to make you a cuppa anymore nor are they there just to pick up a conversation with so time can just slip away from you.
Be sure to get up from your desk regularly for coffee breaks, toilet breaks, stretch breaks (super important when work from a desk) and don’t forget your lunch.
More so, you may find initially that the day stretches quite a bit when you’re working from home as you’re rarely at home or having to stay put as long. Taking regular breaks will help to break up the time whilst establishing your new routine.
A note of caution: don’t use your breaks to do chores or work on a time consuming meal, this can be a much bigger distraction and often more time consuming than you imagine and as such, it’ll keep you from being focused on your work.
Eat well and exercise
Following on from the above, you’ll often just grab what is convenient instead of making something decent to eat. Additionally, you can end up working longer hours just because you’re at home and get stuck into a project.
Be sure you’re eating at least your 3 meals a day and you’re getting a good balance of food groups. It’s important to help keep you well. Take that lunchbreak and make yourself something decent and health to enjoy. Now is also a good time to get some social time – just as you would at work. It will help you switch off temporarily from your work.
Additionally, it’s important that you keep up with regular exercise. The parameters may have changed but there is still tons you can do to meet your exercise quota. For example, you could walk around the block in lieu of your usual commute or do this at lunchtime if you prefer. We’ve also published some other ideas for exercising at home and have shared these with you below.
We hope our suggestions prove helpful. Working from home can certainly be a joy but you still have a job to do and mostly, it’s about having the right mindset. We’ve found implementing these strategies is really helpful.