There are more people than ever working from home at the moment, with millions of us doing our bit to help beat the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Swapping the office for remote working might be something you only dreamed of a few months ago, but the reality can be very different, with a some finding it difficult to manage and to adjust to lone working.
Even at the best of times, we can struggle to separate work and home life, so when they both happen in the same place, it throws up even more challenges than usual. Whether it’s not logging off until later than normal, working through your lunch break or on the contrary, not working a great deal at all, it’s easy to see why remote working can start to impact business and our health.
To combat these challenging times, here are a few things you can do to try and effectively work from home, while being productive and continuing to maintain a happy, healthy household.
- Get changed out of your PJs. It’s too easy to slide out of bed, head downstairs and start work all within 2 minutes, but it won’t set you up the same way it would If you were to shower, get dressed and get ‘ready’ for work. Having the same routine as if you were going into the office not only gets you in the right frame of mind, it also avoids any embarrassing situations when your boss video calls you!
- Create a desk or dedicated workspace. Sitting on the sofa with your laptop on your knee and Friends on in the background might be how you imagined working from home to be, but in reality you’ll soon be feeling lethargic, distracted and aching from poor posture. Instead, set up a dedicated place of work, whether that’s a desk in the spare room, a space on the dining room table or an area of the kitchen. Having a zone that is dedicated to work, with a firm upright chair, will help get you in the right mindset and be more productive while supporting your back and shoulders too.
- Keep a structure to your day. The beauty of working from home is the flexibility. Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl – if you can, adjust your hours accordingly to when you’re most productive. Once you are ready to work however, try to keep a similar structure to the one you would normally have in the office. If you usually have a break at 10am and lunch at 1pm, do this even though you’re at home. It’s easy to lose track of time and work longer than normal, or oppositely, get distracted by home jobs and end up working less. Keeping a structure to your day will ensure you’re putting in the right number of hours while still being productive.
- Keep in touch. One of the hardest things that home workers face is being alone for a long period of time. As humans, if we don’t communicate with others, we feel lethargic, negative, less able to manage stress, have higher blood pressure and much more. It’s therefore essential during this time where we’re not able to socialise in person, to connect through technology. We’re lucky to live in an era where FaceTime, Skype, social media and WhatsApp are all part of our lives, so it’s easier than ever to keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues. Try having a team call once a day to check in with one another, see how everyone is feeling, and what everyone’s working on, with a family video call later on as well. It’ll help in more ways than you think, both in your personal and work life.
- Keep active. We clock up more steps than we think in a day at the office – our commute, the walk to the toilet, going to make a cup of tea and so on. Which is why when we work from home, and everything is a lot closer and on hand, we drastically reduce the amount of movement we do in a day. Aim to move every 90 minutes, even if it’s just to walk around the house or to make a cup of tea – getting up and stretching your legs and back will help you focus when you return to work.
- Get some fresh air. We might be restricted to our homes at the minute, but it doesn’t mean we can’t get outside. If you have a garden and are able to, try and spend 10 minutes in it, pull up some weeds, hang out the washing or even just sit with a cup of tea and take some deep breaths. The fresh air will improve your mood, wellbeing, energy and clear your head ready for you to get back to work. If you don’t have a garden or are not able to go into it, opening the windows in your house or apartment has a similar effect and will improve the air quality throughout your home.
- Keep a structure to your diet. According to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, Britons eat on average 800 – 1,000 additional calories per day without even knowing it! If this takes them over their required intake, it could lead to an increase in weight and blood pressure over a year. Mindless eating is one of the biggest culprits of weight gain, so it’s even more important while you’re at home (and close to the biscuit tin!) to be careful how much you put in your mouth. Keep a structure to your diet, eating at regular mealtimes with a few healthy snacks throughout the day. Not only will it help with the scales, it’ll also help improve your mood, productivity and energy.
We’re all in a very surreal and scary situation at the moment, which none of us are familiar with. Working together, working remotely and working on steps to avoid the spread, while keeping ourselves and families safe, are the top priorities for all of us. Helping to make life run as smoothly as possible is essential, so we hope these tips enable you to get the work-life balance you and your family need during this difficult time.