5 tips for surviving working from home
1 April 2020
With the current situation, anyone who can work from home already is. These are safety measures that we’re all going to have deal with over the coming days and weeks. We’ve got a few practical tips for surviving in the home office.
Under normal circumstances working from home is one of the most sought-after benefits. People enjoy it most when they need to concentrate away from distractions in the office, stay at home with an ill child, when waiting for a plumber to come at a scheduled time or when it is just time for a change of scenery. Many companies do have a limit on the number of days that an employee can spend working from home.
What happens when you need to work from home for an extended and continuous period? Over and above your initial enthusiasm, you may discover another side of the home office. How can you deal with a loss of motivation, or feelings of loneliness and isolation, or problems concentrating or perhaps a lack of exercise? Take a look at the following tips:
Create a suitable workspace
If you work from home one day a week, then by all means, go ahead and work in your pyjamas from bed! When you work from home over an extended period of time, however, you really should create a dedicated workspace. Ideally, this would be a separate room where you can have your desk, chair, computer, note pad, pen and a drink.
If two or more persons are working in the same household, you should try to agree and adapt your workspace to best meet your needs. If you choose to divide the space, wear headphones, and set some breaks when you can talk to one another. If you are living in a smaller flat, you're going to have to be a bit more creative, for instance working in the kitchen, or by making a work nook on the sofa or on the floor. Make sure to clear everything away in the evening and set it all out again in the morning.
If you've got young children, try and teach them that your workspace is your zone. If you have the means and ability, create a mini workspace for them with colouring books and other supplies for drawing and give them their own projects to keep them busy.
Stick to a work routine
Try to follow a normal routine as much as possible when working from home. Wake up at approximately the same time. Only extend the time you spend sleeping by the time that you would otherwise spend commuting to work or use this time actively and do some exercise. Dress comfortably and smartly, never work in your pyjamas. Don't stop combing your hair or brushing your teeth and don't forget about the foundation for a successful day: breakfast.
Take breaks for coffee and lunch at approximately the same time as you did in the office. Try to have a lunch prepared in advance if possible. Don't forget to turn off your computer at the time you would normally leave the office. The fact that you have your work computer at home 24 hours a day does not mean that you need to leave it on and answer emails 24/7.
Quick tips for the home office
- Create a workspace
- Get up at the same time as if you were going to work
- Dress comfortably and smartly
- Prepare your lunch and snacks the day before
- Take breaks and don't forget to move
- Communicate with colleagues
Make use of your new-found flexibility
Working from home does provide a certain degree of flexibility. If you have an understanding employer, then you may be able to modify your working hours as well. Parents with young children may take advantage of this if they need to deal with something. For example, you may decide to work from home half a day and take a half-day of holiday time. If you need to focus on your kids for 2 hours, you can make this time up by working in the evening. Everything depends on coming to an agreement with your manager.
Don't forget to tell your manager about any changes to working hours or an extended period of time when you won't be available. Be sure not to abuse this privilege just because you're not physically present to your employer.
Try out these tips for better concentration
Work routines are closely associated with ways to divide time for work and techniques to improve your performance at work. You may find inspiration from the following tips:
- Try out the 'Pomodoro Technique', where you work in timed blocks with short breaks. For example, you work for 25 minutes, followed by a 5-minute break and then you go back to work. After 4 such blocks, you then take a longer break of 15 to 20 minutes.
- Don't sit behind the computer during your breaks. Get up, walk around, make yourself a cup of tea or open a window. Likewise, don't eat your lunch in front of the computer.
- Work time is for work. Household duties and meal preparation need to be separate. Schedule your day to ensure you don't waste work time with your household chores. Try to prepare lunch and snacks the day before, load the washing machine in the morning and set it to run at the end of your working hours.
- Turn off the television and choose music instead.
Communicate regularly with colleagues
After working from home for an extended period of time, you may find yourself feeling lonely, losing motivation or you may even begin feeling fearful about your job or uncertainty about the future. Whether you live alone, or with your family, it's important that you have regular social contact with colleagues.
If you have a problem or need advice, call. Always ask your colleagues how they are doing, how they are coping with the situation or what's bothering them, in addition to work topics. If you work in a team get everyone involved in a video call at least once a week. If your boss is no longer doing this, don't be afraid to suggest it. Seeing colleagues at home and direct contact with them will lift your spirits.
Working from home has its bright and dark sides. It is important to stay in touch with people, which is easier with current technologies. Tell us how you are dealing with working from home and whether you're looking forward to going back to the office.