As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the globe, the government is urging all employees and workers who are able to work from home. While working from home is not uncommon for some, there are many for whom this will be an entirely new way of working and some may find it difficult to adapt to working outside of the office environment. We’ve put together our Top 5 tips to working from home.
It is recommended that workers get into a daily routine to make a distinction between being at home and working form home, even if that routine is not the same as the normal one when attending the employers’ premises. By taking deliberate decision to begin work at a set time each day and setting out when breaks will be taken, what tasks need to be worked on and when the working day will finish, this will help focus workers further and give the day structure. It may also help to build activities such as exercise or household tasks into the daily routine.
For many, a long lie is very appealing with the prospect of starting work later in the day in the comfort of a pair pyjamas being an added bonus. However, studies have shown that getting up and dressed at the normal time will help workers mentally prepare for work, as well as improving their overall frame of mind.
Working from home can be lonely at times, particularly for those who already live by themselves. It is important to keep in touch with colleagues not just to keep track of work matters but to keep up social contact and friendships. Telephone and video conferencing can be a great resource and add a human element which can be missing when working alone. At MSHB, we are making use of team WhatsApp groups to keep in touch with colleagues while working remotely.
Laura MacSporran, an Associate within the MSHB Employment Team says: “It can be difficult to replicate the office environment at home so you work to capacity and avoid distractions. This can be a time to get creative and social media is full of interesting home working set ups. A specific home working space can help to focus more effectively during the day and to mentally shut down at night if you designate a separate area in your home for work where possible.”
While not for everyone, there are even apps which play background noise that simulates an office environment, a coffee shop, or even the train commute! Some workers may find this helps them concentrate, while others may just see it as a distraction.
However, home working is an opportunity to set up an environment which is optimised to the individual, whether that involves having breaks when suits, having background music on, or setting up a standing desk.
The recent announcement that schools are now to close will likely make home working more difficult for some who will now have to look after children from home. It may be that working flexibly during this time will assist, such as working at different times of the day from usual.
Having some time out to make food, listen to music or go outside can help break up the day and make your daily tasks feel less monotonous. Some studies have shown that taking frequent, short breaks can have greater long term benefits than less frequent, longer breaks. So getting away from the computer screen to do some stretches, take a walk round the block or do any other physical activity all have positive benefits. It could help you greatly in the long run.
The BBC recently suggested the ‘Pomodoro Technique’, whereby you work for 25 minutes, followed by a 5 minute break. Whether this will work for all is a matter for each individual to try.
It is also important to try and stick to a regular working pattern and switch off your computer and emails at the end of the working day to ensure you maintain a work/life balance.