Working from home!

It’s been the dream of many. But the current pandemic has shown that it isn’t always as easy as you might have thought. With many people preparing for new Hybrid Work Rotas, the workplace is feeling like a whole new world.

Here’s some helpful tips for keeping yourself on track when you’re in the Home Office!

1. Ditch the Onesie!

Get Dressed in the morning! It might seem like a simple tip, but it’s a crucial one. It’s very tempting to stay in your pjs all day or to turn up to the work desk in your best onesie! But it doesn’t help you feel productive.

Whilst you don’t need to dress as formally as you might for work, the simple act of changing clothes serves as a signal that it’s time to wake up and get things done. Doing the normal things, such as showering, breakfasting and putting on clean (ish) clothes helps you wake up and feel less cut off from the normal life.

Besides, just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean that no one from work will see you. Remember, no one wants to see you in your dressing gown on a Zoom call!

2. Walk to Work (and home again!)

Commuting is the bane of many lives! And you might be delighted that you are no longer crushed into an overcrowded Northern Rail train carriage (sounds a bit too familiar! – Ed.) or sitting for hours in stationary traffic, or even dealing with the all too familiar moronic road-rage incidents!

But the morning commute isn’t just about getting us to work. It actually gives our brains time to prepare and ease ourselves into the workday.

If you read or listen to music on your commute, you should try to do the same at home. Another good idea is to take a walk before you start the day, you don’t have to have a dog to enjoy a morning walk. Walking out of the house and then returning after exercise is almost like entering a workplace. If you’re feeling extra energetic, why not try a workout!

The same can be helpful at the end of the day, as well. Commuters often take for granted the time they have in the car or on the train to unwind from a hectic workday and mentally prepare themselves for their evening routine. When we try to jump directly, our brain doesn’t have time to hit the reset button, which can make you less present as you transition back into your personal life.

3. Don’t become a Night Owl

Although you’re working at home, it good to keep clearly defined working hours. You’ll get your best work done and be most ready to go back to the office if you stick with your regular hours. Besides, there’s no point in working through the night, if your co-workers are all asleep!

The best thing about home working though, is that you can manage your time to suit you. We all have natural Chronotypes. These mean that some work better early in the day and others better later in the day. The danger of working from home is that you end up working too long. It’s important to make sure your work hours are not extending into the evening. You need time to put work away, recharge and start tomorrow with a fresh mind.

4. Try not to Work in Bed!

It’s a big challenge when you’re working from home to keep work and home lives separate. If you’re not careful, it can get very blurry. If you never fully disconnect from work, your work productivity will suffer and your home life will as well.  

A workspace doesn’t have to be its own room. It could be a corner. But it should feel as separate from the rest of your home as possible. Going into your workspace helps to “get going” at the start of the day. Then, at the end of the day, leaving the workspace helps to “turn off”.

It might seem like fun to work from the couch or even from bed, but if you let your laptop creep into your relaxing space, it makes it harder to keep work separate from home life.

5. “Box Set Binge, anyone?

Home is a place that’s filled with distractions. Whatever you’re usually thinking about getting home to after work is now with you all the time. It’s very easy to get distracted, but you need to be wary of how much you let yourself get distracted. 

Office workers usually take breaks through the day. And the day is often punctuated by meetings, conversations and other distractions. It’s fine to have those at home, too. Using that time to do the washing, is fine. But it’s easy to look at the new work situation as an opportunity to finally clean out spare room or decorate the lounge!

Another distraction is TV. Working at home, it can be tempting to finally work through season 6 of “Lucifer” or revisit some well-loved shows on Netflix. The simple rule is, if you wouldn’t get away with it at work, it’s best not to get into it when working from home! The new season of “The Crown” will still be there after 5pm!

6. It’s Good to Talk!

It’s very important when you’re working from home to keep in good communication with your team, especially with your manager. Whatever the challenges you face working from home, don’t hesitate to reach out to the same people you would usually turn to for help, even if you’re not in the same building as them.

It’s also good not to just use text-based communication. If you would have normally spoken to a co-worker face-to-face about something, check in with them over phone or through video chat. This will cut down on miscommunication and break up some of the isolation that can come from working from home.

7. Try not to Become a Recluse!

Since lockdown started, many of us have been cut off from our usual social interactions. This is true of work too. The interactions we have throughout the day help us break up the monotony of work. Human beings need to be around others. It’s the small talk and random fire alarms that keep days feeling unique and prevent that hamster-wheel feeling.

Working from home removes that. Which means that it is important to keep talking to your co-workers throughout the day through Slack, phone calls, text, Zoom, or however your company communicates.

If you usually ask co-workers about their weekends, keep that up. If you’d usually comment to them about a specific topic, reach out. These little interactions go a long way. 

Managers should also try to schedule morning video-call stand-ups for the team. And should also make space for that first-getting-into-work small talk.

8. Have a break …

Don’t short-change yourself when it comes to breaks. It’s easy when, you’re at home, to spend your entire day staring at the screen. The need to be “logged in” to the work system, and be seen to be working, can mean that you never leave your desk at all.

This isn’t how your normal workday plays out. At work, you have distractions, in the form of meetings, co-workers and regular breaks.

Make sure you take your breaks at home as well. But keep them time-bound too!

9. Sick Days Still Apply!

You don’t just have to have Covid-19 to be sick. If you’re ill, you can’t work, whether you’re at home or not. Working from home, you’re much less likely to catch a virus, or other illness.

But, sick days are still valid and you shouldn’t feel pressured to work on through any illness.

10. Be good to yourself

It goes without saying, but you need to make sure you look after yourself when you’re at home, as well as at work. Regular exercise, eating healthily, taking time off, making time to talk to friends, and family.

All these things help you work better and stay healthier.