Updated: Mar 19, 2020
COVID-19 is changing current workplace practices and the ‘dream’ of working from home is becoming a reality for many people. For anyone who is self-isolating, or simply taking precautions and working from home, here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your days and enjoy the experience.
1. SET YOURSELF UP – Whether you have a dedicated office space or will be setting up on the kitchen table, dedicate an area as your workspace. Make sure you have access to power points, wireless internet, a printer and good lighting. A view is always a bonus although it can distract you occasionally! Check in with your IT manager to ensure your laptop or home computer has the required software and networking tools to allow you to work remotely. And don't forget adequate security and firewalls. Many of the telco providers are now offering data plans for people working from home so check in with to get the best deal. Make sure you also have the ability to shut the world out should you need to join a webex or teleconference (dogs barking in the background is distracting for everyone on the call).
2. ESTABLISH WORK TIMES – Determine what time you’ll start and finish work each day and share this with your colleagues. It may be that you are most productive in the mornings, so adjust your daily routine to accommodate this. Working from home can be a challenge when there is a load of washing to be done or kids to get off to school. Find out what works for your situation and family, and aim to keep structure in your day. If your family members are at home as well, have some flexibility but try and ensure you are achieving your goals and ticking tasks off your to do list.
3. REPLACE YOUR COMMUTING TIME WITH YOU TIME – For many people, the time spent in the car, bus, train or on the bike to and from the office is also ‘thinking time’; time to plan day, mentally prepare for meetings, or time to decompress from a hectic day before walking into a busy household. Use this time to create a distinction between your ‘home time’, and your ‘work time’. Walk the dog, take a quick stroll around the block, meditate or simply find a spot in the sunshine and practice mindfulness. You will find that it will help refresh you and reset your mind and your mood.
4. DRESS FOR THE OFFICE – Don't be tempted to stay in your jammies or activewear all day (although we are all guilty of doing this once in a while!). Getting dressed for work is part of mentally preparing you for the day and gives you a boost. Go for smart-casual or semi-formal workwear. And at the end of the day, get changed out of your work gear to help you mentally switch off.
5. BE STRONG – The call of the refrigerator can be very tempting when you are home all day, or perhaps your weakness is daytime soaps, Pinterest or Instagram. Work out what your distractions will be and once you are aware of them, be strong! Set a regular lunch break and stick to it. Use that time to walk away from your desk or table, get some fresh air, scroll through your Facebook posts, stretch, or call a friend.
6. TAKE REGULAR BREAKS – Just like you would in an office environment, get up and walk around, or make a cup of tea or coffee. Take your phone calls standing up, or walk into the garden for a few minutes to give your eyes a rest from the computer screen. If you have reading to do, dedicate a chair on the deck or in another room as your ‘thinking space’. And make sure you drink plenty of water.
7. BE KIND – If you are not the only one working from home, try and understand how each of you like to work and what you need to work at your best. Some people need silence, others like background music. Some people think out loud and talk to themselves. However you like to work, be respectful of others in your house and remember, this is temporary.
8. MAINTAIN CONNECTIONS – Keeping in contact with colleagues, family and friends is important, particularly if social gatherings are limited. Establish a set time each day for a virtual team meeting to discuss work related matters and project progress. Put some time aside in your day as well to connect with family and friends, check in and see how they are getting on and support each other. This is where all the social media apps really come into their own – it could be through Skype, Zoom, Teams, Messenger, Slack, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, FaceTime or a good old-fashioned phone call.