The Covid19 pandemic has created a monumental shift in work practices with thousands of companies closing down their main offices and asking employees to work from home. This has proved very challenging for most people – workers and employers alike – with isolation a problem for the former, and supervision proving tricky for the latter. This article outlines eight top tips for employees to help them cope with home working.
Don’t stop the dress
Sticking to a familiar routine by copying your ‘normal’ (pre-home working) habits is important to keep yourself in the zone and maintain a sensible work-life balance. Lots of studies show it helps maintain your psychological wellbeing, so resist the temptation to roll out of bed and start work in your PJs with your hair in a state. Instead, start your day with a shower, get dressed in the usual way, and start working at the same time as you would in the office. Wearing loafers instead of your brogues or high heels is okay, but working in pyjamas or other nightwear is likely to demotivate you.
Create a workstation
Separating your work-life from your home-life is vital for your mental wellbeing. Try to create a single dedicated ‘office’ area within your property organised entirely for work. If possible, this should be a separate room from those in which you relax. That will help keep work and home life separate both physically and mentally.
Get kitted out
If your employer hasn’t done it for you, ensure you are provided with all the equipment, file access and software resources you are going to need in advance. You do not want to get stalled for want of resources. Importantly, this should include easy access to IT support. Employers should be looking at what Cloud services they can provide.
Work normal hours and take your breaks
It can be tricky switching off work mode when you are working at home, so be strict about starting and finishing your workday at the same time you did previously. Take regular screen breaks and a proper break for lunch. When it gets to your usual finishing time switch off all your work devices, and clear away as many of your work things as possible.
Plan your day
At the start of each day compile a to-do list. It is fine if this includes ongoing projects and ‘carryovers’ from the day before but try and vary your tasks if you can and allocate set periods of time for each task. Your to-do list should be ambitious but ultimately achievable. If it is unrealistically long you will feel overwhelmed.
Working in a separate room to other members of your household helps, but also put away your personal phone and work in a room without a TV. This will greatly assist your focus and productivity.
Exercise is a well-known way to boost mental wellbeing, so even if you are stuck at home behind a desk for most of the day try and stay active. This might involve going for a walk or run at lunchtime or even doing an online workout.
Isolation can become a big negative when working from home so it is really important to stay in touch with your team colleagues as much as possible. Try to have regular meetings or one-on-one calls or even brief social-media catch-ups. Make the most of video-conferencing apps such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Skype.
The eight tips above are primarily designed to help maintain the wellbeing of remote workers but employers face other problems too. When operations move outside the office onto a variety of new devices (laptops and smartphones) your IT department will struggle to cope with updates, security and network issues. Consider helping them by outsourcing some or all of your routine IT functions.