Over the next few weeks more people than ever before are going to be working from home due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
For those used to a busy office environment this can come as a complete culture-shock so we’ve put together a guide to getting the best out of WFH, without having to spend weeks perfecting your daily routine!
Create a structured work day
Anyone who has worked from home on a regular basis knows that the most important thing to have is a regular routine. The joy of working from home is that, if your job allows a little flexibility, you can get logged on nice and early (your commute has never been so quick!) and get some emails out of the way before you’d usually have arrived at the office.
With many families juggling one or two parents working from home as well as childcare, it’s important to remember that what works for one family, won’t work for another - find the routine that’s best for you.
Dress to impress or dress down Friday?
It might be tempting to work in your pyjamas but the simple act of getting dressed can start the day right and increase your productivity. Outfits that are similar to, though less formal than, your usual workwear will boost your confidence and mean that you’re more likely to video call with colleagues without dreading pressing the accept button!
Create a dedicated workspace
Giving yourself a dedicated work area is key to maintaining a healthy work-life balance, signalling to your loved ones when you’re ‘at work’ and when you’re not. If you don’t have a separate office then set aside an area of your home that could work - whether this is by using a desk in your bedroom or one end of the dining table as your temporary office.
Though working from the sofa might be tempting, if you’ve got an 8 hour work day then your back needs the support of a comfortable chair and an ergonomic mouse is a great way to relieve the pressure on your wrists.
Let there be light!
Try to work in an area with as much good natural light as possible - not only is it kinder on the eyes, but if your desk is near a window it will give you a link to the outside world. If your space is a little on the gloomy side, an adjustable desk lamp or two will complement your ceiling lights to give you a bright workspace which won’t leave you nodding off after your lunch break.
Streamline your workspace
For some people a messy desk is a source of creativity and inspiration, but most of us thrive in a more organised environment. Having a clutter free desk can help focus the mind and improve concentration… if that’s not motivation enough, remember that video conferencing is giving people a window into your workspace so if they wouldn’t be able to see you behind a pile of empty mugs, a clear up may be the order of the day!
One simple way to spruce up your space is by concealing all of your wires below the desk with a cable tie, or why not get creative and use everything from old jam jars to make-up trays to corral your pens, notepads and memory sticks.
Don’t forget to eat and drink!
When you’re working from home it’s easy to lose track of time and end up working through your usual coffee or lunch breaks.
Set reminders for your breaks and stick to them - keep your desk a food-free zone by taking time for a cup of tea in the garden if you have one or why not use your once-a-day exercise slot to go for a walk outside. These breaks are not only good for your mental health and well-being but also give your mind time to reflect on the work you’ve done, and can help you feel refreshed and ready to generate more ideas during the rest of your workday.
Mini-tip: Stay hydrated by having a water bottle close at hand and don’t be tempted to snack just because your fridge is nearby - use food in a positive way, not as a way to procrastinate!
While some of you might be enjoying the relative peace and quiet that comes from working at home, others will find the lack of social contact quite a lonely experience. Thankfully there are plenty of options to help you stay connected with your colleagues including free web conferencing tools like Zoom or Google Hangouts and team chats like Slack or Microsoft Teams.
For those who love catching up with colleagues over a morning coffee, why not schedule a Zoom for a set time and enjoy a socially-distant catch-up a couple of times a week?
Also, if you’re missing the white noise that comes with an office environment consider having the radio or some music on in the background - it will also help to disguise distracting noises in other areas of the house.
Clear away to mark the end of your work day
When you’re working from home one of the most important ways that you can maintain a good work-life balance is by setting a firm end to your work day, as it’s all too easy to keep checking emails late in the evening.
Clearing everything away will give you defined boundaries between your work life and your home life. If you’re working on a laptop that you use for leisure as well as work simply close all work-related tabs so that you can browse online without the spectre of work looming over you!
Keeping your workspace clutter free also means that you start the next day fresh, which should increase both your motivation levels and your productivity.
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