For those of us working at home, it’s taken a bit of a shift to get into a new routine. Our little home offices are all different: some of us have children sitting on the desk right next to us (or smaller ones running around like crazy), some of us have pets at our feet, we might be upstairs/downstairs, in a flat or house – but we are all determined to carry on and keep up the good work!
Although there are some of us who work from home occasionally, there are probably only a few of us who might work from home all the time, so it’s pretty new territory for most. What has previously been just for when the plumber is coming, or you need to sign for a parcel, has now become the new normal.
It is hard not to be able to bounce ideas off staff members, and have a quick chat to deskmates, and meetings are now punctuated with frozen screens and people either waiting in silence for someone to speak, or all talking over each other at once. You’ve also got to make your own cuppa – we are all definitely missing Chris who used to make us drinks all the time (thank you, Chris!).
Its much more difficult to feel connected to your workplace and your team right now, so to stop us from being discouraged, we have put together seven of our top tips to help us get the best out of working from home while we continue to need to do so.
1. Team video chat catchups. Daily. Even if there’s not a lot of work news to discuss from the last 24 hours it’s been invaluable to check in with each other and say hi with a cuppa in hand (Louise is particularly good at making sure she has a cuppa!). It gives an opportunity for us to ask the rest of the team any questions, let everyone know what’s happening that day, and also just give each other a friendly wave and hello. And let’s be honest, it’s pretty cool nosing in other people’s houses too isn’t it!
2. Get dressed. We know it’s tempting to stay in pjs all day but keeping a routine helps. Getting yourself looking neat and presentable will help your mental health, and of course be nicer for your colleagues on those video calls. Do feel free to get that loungewear on as soon as you’ve clocked off though.
3. Make a list. Or a few lists. Keep track of what you have to do, perhaps even separate it out into short term goals, longer term goals and a wish list of things that you never normally seem to have time to do. If you’re feeling overwhelmed try and carve out separate time for things on each of those lists to make you feel as if you are achieving what you need to over the course of a week.
4. Stick to your normal timings. Although it’s tempting to check work emails anytime, it’ll be far more helpful to set your work hours, and then actively switch off from work at the end of the day, as well as actively sign in at the start. It’s important to try and give ourselves clear boundaries between work and home (that said we might be putting on a cheeky load of washing in ‘work’ time every now and again!). Trying to ‘let go’ of work at the end of the day will enable you to recharge for the next.
5. Take regular breaks. At an office, you will often take small micro breaks to make a drink, go to the bathroom, or chat to colleagues. When working from home, it’s easy to feel like that shouldn’t happen, or find you’ve been at your desk for a couple of hours without moving. Movement breaks are key to productivity and clearing your head. Remember your brain needs to have periods of activity followed by some ‘rest’ so make sure you don’t feel guilty about switching off for a few minutes.
6. If you can, keep a dedicated office space so that your work and home life is separate, or at least make sure you log out of work emails at the end of the day. Keep your workspace tidy, and perhaps add a few touches like a plant, photo or your favourite notebook.
7. Don’t be hard on yourself. It’s easy to worry about productivity or what other people might be achieving – but we are all in unprecedented times and we just need to do what we can, and think about the positives.
We’d love to hear your working from home tips – any good ones that we missed?
Take care of yourselves,
The Symprove team