Top tips for working from home

If you are a working from home newbie thanks to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) then you may be finding the whole homeworking experience a little, well, unnerving.

You are not alone, homeworking is not something many of us do on a regularly basis, especially those of us who have spent our careers to date in busy offices. And, of course, doing it over a longer period is a lot different to the odd day of working from home that we have all managed on occasions.

So, how do you adjust to being based at home for a longer period?

Well, everyone has to find what works for them, but here are some handy tips from those that have been doing it…

Getting up and at ’em

While the thought of staying in your pyjamas all day and working from your bed sounds greatly appealing, for many it simply doesn’t work as well as you would think. There is no formal start to the day, no sense of urgency to get things done and it does make dozing more likely!

Getting up and dressed puts you in the right frame of mind to work… it kick-starts your day, psychologically preparing you to get on with work.

Some may go as far as preferring to go full work wear, similar to the outfit they work in as this is ‘the norm’. Again, psychologically this can help get you in the right mindset and is especially helpful to avoid faux pas on video calls!!

On the flip side, come the end of your work day, changing back in to ‘civvies’ (your comfy casual gear) is a great way to switch off work mode.

Finding the perfect spot to work

While it would be lovely to have your own dedicated office in your home, for most of us it is about finding the most practical place to work with the least distractions.

Can you can utilise a spare room or annex a bit of the lounge or dining room?

If you are limited on space, try and ring fence some space and make sure that all those in your house are aware of it. It may also be worth introducing some ground rules to foster a working environment such as limiting personal conversations in the work area to rest breaks.

Setting up your working space

Within your dedicated work area, set up a desk and chair to work at, no working on an ironing board perching on a stool!

As you will know from many an office check, posture and sitting correctly while working is hugely important to your back care and general health, so make sure you set your PC/screen up correctly… screen at the right height etc.

[We are office furniture experts and so if you need desks, chairs etc do you give us a call]

Establish your working day

We have already touched on the need to get up and get started but in general it is good practice to follow your normal working day. So, if you work 9-5 during in the office, then it makes sense to maintain that when working from home.

It helps you create a disciplined approach, keeps you accessible to colleagues and clients during the work day, and will make it much easier when you return to a normal work day in the future.

However, remember the come the end of the day you shut the laptop down and stop working.

Don’t forget the watercooler moments

One of the hardest things to get used to when working from home is that you are mainly on your own, there is no one interrupting you with a work question or chatter. This can initially be great for productivity but can lead to a feeling of isolation and lowers your morale.

Prolonged sitting is also very bad for our physical health and so we need to make sure we are regularly getting up and moving around.

While you may not have a watercooler to hang out at for a few minutes gossip, make sure you timetable breaks to force you to have a few moments of downtime, movement and exercise… it will do you good, promise.

If you don’t know what to do in those breaks, how about… a walk round your garden, making a cup of tea in the kitchen, talking to housemates, walking up and down some stairs, office stretches, ringing a friend or family member while walking around the house.

Hide the biscuits!

The downfall of many a homeworker is the proximity of the kitchen and all those goodies like chocolate, biscuits and cake. Now, obviously a bit of reward for your efforts (completing a task, project etc) is perfectly acceptable but do try and limit the temptation to constantly wander in for a little top-up. Unfortunately, the scales won’t lie if you take it too far.

Fill the silence

An office has a buzz, people moving, things happening. Depending where you are working at home, your home office can feel very quiet and again highlights isolation. One of the best ways to overcome this is with some background music or the radio. In fact, one of our homeworkers considers the radio presenters part of his office team, as they have been chatting in the office for so many years!

Reach out to colleagues

Although you are not seeing your colleagues everyday now, it is important to stay in touch with them – for you and for them. It is a key interaction in your day, ensures ideas and thoughts exchanged and most importantly improves morale.

Your colleagues may be experiencing homeworking for the first time and your contact will provide added support to them.

Keeping in touch by phone is easy but the technology is there for all to use to catch up by video calls which is a much nicer way to interact than via email/instant messaging.

Finally…

Working from home can be challenging but it is not impossible to master, it’s more a matter of a positive mindset and finding out what works best for you.

We hope that the above tips are useful based on our experiences and if you have any to add please do give us a shout.

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