Amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic, lots more of us are finding ourselves working from home – some for the very first time. This is a new experience for all of us, in a state of lockdown, being confined to the house, potentially with partners and children adding to the stress of working from home.
In light of this, our team has compiled some useful advice to help with focus, motivation and morale whilst working from home.
Make a schedule
It might not be feasible to work your normal hours when working from home, so don’t force it. Prioritise your workload and arrange your day in a way that is manageable time wise, allowing you to remain focused. Explain to your manager why you feel it would be best to adjust your hours before hand to make sure that it’s ok to do so. Let your colleagues know what your working hours are so that you aren’t dealing with calls/emails when trying to get through the other things. If possible, use a shared calendar so that everyone’s hours are available to make this experience easier on everyone.
When you have finished your day’s work close the laptop, step away from your workstation and relax. It can be difficult to find a balance between work-life and home-life in our current situation. Being caught up in work all the time is a sure-fire way to make yourself miserable.
Have an efficient workspace
A good, well set-up workspace is a must when trying to work from home. Ideally you want to have a space with minimal distractions – a separate room in the house from everyone else is recommended. Setting up a workstation on a dining table, if possible, is also a great way to get yourself in the right frame of mind for work – it can mimic the feeling of being at your desk in the office. If you have to be in a space shared by other people, let them know that you are working and would appreciate the least amount of interruptions as possible. Set time aside throughout the day for them so that they don’t feel ignored – especially if you have young children at home that don’t understand what working means.
You should avoid working from your bed or your sofa if possible. While these places portray comfort and coziness, they won’t allow you to have the right mindset to get work done. You want to set up a desk space to avoid harming your back or neck as well as maintaining some normality.
A great way to set up a temporary desk is depicted in the picture below provided by Ergonomic Trends. Split your workspace into three sections, where everything will have its own place and purpose, preventing clutter and making your work-day less stressful.
Taking regular breaks can improve your workday exponentially. It reduces eye strain from staring at your screen for too long, prevents body aches and pains, and actually helps with understanding and retaining information. There are lots of ways to ensure that you are taking breaks without lacking in work progress. One well known technique is the Pomodoro Technique. It’s based on setting a timer for 25 minutes of work followed by a short break (up to 5 minutes). Each 25 minutes of work is called a session and 4 of these results in a longer break (15-30 minutes). There are lots of apps available to download onto your computer or laptop that will keep count of your sessions.
During these breaks, step away from your workstation, move around, interact with your family, check social media, stretch. These are all allowed, you’ve earned them.
Self-isolation doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be in contact with each other virtually – just not physically. Set up a group chat with the people you work with to keep up to date on what they’ve been working on and for direction. Set up check-ins but keep in mind that they can also be distractions from what you are trying to achieve. Our team has a weekly video chat scheduled so we don’t forget what each other looks like!
But it’s not all about work even if it that’s how it may seem. Contact family during your breaks, find out how they are. Have a joke with your friends, group call the people you can’t see right now. Socialising is good for you and can boost your mood, which in turn will increase productivity and morale.
Sitting for prolonged periods of time isn’t good for anyone and it’s something that we can become guilty of doing when working from home. Precautions should be taken on exposing ourselves to the outside world right now, but we still need fresh air.
Try to go outside for exercise even if it’s just for 20 minutes a day. If you have a family, go out in the garden with them or go for a walk nearby. If you do see anyone, follow government advice and stay at least 2 metres apart.
It’s a scary time right now but it’s important to support each other and try to make routines to manage our days and stay sane. It’s important that we recognise we should be a little less tough on ourselves during this time. We’re all trying our best to continue to work and take care of ourselves and others despite the situation.
To read our article on the IES’s working from home wellbeing survey, please click here.
If you require any further information or support, please don’t hesitate to contact us on either t: +44 (0)141 244 0181 or e: firstname.lastname@example.org