With the global Coronavirus pandemic forcing people to work from home, many for the first time, we’ve put together a little survival guide to help you from going stir crazy.

Working from home or remotely can be one of the most liberating and productive experiences and, done well, can actually enhance your work life. Let’s face it, no need to squeeze onto that overcrowded train, an extra hour in bed and nobody clock watching your daily routine. What’s not to like! However working remotely or from home can present other challenges.

Structure your working day

There will always be the temptation to relax standards whilst working remotely. I remember my first experience of remote working over 20 years ago, sitting at my home desk in my pyjamas munching a slice of toast at 9am.  To be the most productive, work needs to feel a bit like, well… work.  Structure and routine can really help to ensure your day is used efficiently.

Your work space

Your environment will have an impact on your ability to work properly, creating a work space separate to the rest of the house such as a converted shed or simply closing the door on a spare room if available. If none of these are available, even in a bedroom, or lounge space, a desk set up for work will help to get you into the working mindset. 

From a physical perspective, you are likely to be working for a number of hours a day and as tempting as it must be to slouch on the sofa, having a proper chair and desk with a larger screen at an appropriate height will help to maintain your physical health. Many companies will be keen to ensure their employees' home work space is ergonomically suited to work use so there may be help with the purchase of chairs and desks available.

Work/Home life separation.

One of the real benefits of working away from the home in a dedicated office is that largely speaking, when you leave the office, the work day is over. With ‘always on’ technology there is a danger of the lines between work and home becoming blurred but for your mental health and wellbeing, having separation between the two environments is important. As crazy as it might sound whilst working from home, getting dressed for work, and being presentable for those team and customer video conference calls and then debunking to lounge wear at the end of the day can provide real separation which helps to distinguish between work and down time.

Take a break

Working at home full time can start to feel a little dull; fitting exercise and daylight into your day will definitely help your mind and body, similarly making time for yourself and being strict about taking breaks will enable you to cope with remote working long term.

Set goals

Not strictly limited for remote working but setting goals and organizing priority tasks will really help to give a sense of having achieved something purposeful with your day. Working from home or remotely can be a lonely place and making small wins can help to maintain high spirits.

Stay in touch with your colleagues regularly

One of the biggest senses of loss that can come from working remotely is the feeling of togetherness and social interaction with your colleagues. Fortunately with the incredible collaboration software tools available to aid working together such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Slack, it is easily possible to stay in touch face to face. It can feel alien to set an online video conference call where a phone call will do but seeing your beautiful colleague’s face can really lift your day. These tools are now going way beyond just video conferencing with plugged in collaboration functionality that enable you to share projects and tasks. Regular face to face contact can really negate any sense of isolation.

Living with others

If you aren’t usually working from home and this has been thrust upon you, learning to work under the same roof with others that you cohabit with can present a challenge. You may be invading someone else’s normal domain and being sympathetic to that can stop unnecessary flair ups. Open communication and a good old fashioned chat about how you’d all like things to run could save you from an unexpected ‘ding dong’. 

Make it fun

Unless you are a complete recluse, working from home with limited contact can be pretty depressing, we are seeing some businesses being pretty creative around video conference social interaction. We’ve heard of 10am tea chats over Teams, Friday afternoon happy hour drinks and company quizzes all being used to stave off any boredom.

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