As home working becomes the new normal for us during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to take a look at what working remotely means for individuals and companies, some of whom might be doing it for the first time.
Home is full of distractions: family, housework, Netflix… but working from home can also mean you’re incredibly productive. The first thing is to make sure you’re fully connected. Whether it’s via Skype, Zoom, Teams or WhatsApp, it’s never been easier to stay connected with your colleagues. Here at Spinnaker, our staff are now working remotely as per the UK government’s guidelines and from day one we were training new people over video chat and are fully keeping up to date with conference calls. For many of our staff, it is a normal day in the office – just without the office!
Speaking of distractions, background noise, for example a radio playing, helps break the quiet – or just the sound of the keyboard.
It’s important to get properly dressed as though you would for going into work, this can really help get you into the right headspace for ‘work’. Especially if you are video conferencing. Also when video calling: remember what’s in the background! Keep your space tidy for both your own mental health and to minimise judgement of your colleagues. You don’t want anyone looking at your washing drying on an airer behind you.
Something important is to keep your home space light and airy – pull back the curtains, open a window, and keep the space fresh as you’ll be in the same place all day. Now – your work station. Some of you may be lucky enough to have a desk or dining table to work from (or even a fully prepped home office!), but others might just be working from the sofa. You need to get your work station as comfortable as possible. Look around your home and see if you have the option of setting aside a space which can be left set up for working.
Keep your routines
If your normal office hours are 9-5 and that works for you, stick to them. Or are you an early bird? Sometimes it’s more productive to get the coffee on and get cracking early, great if your company allows flexible hours. This can be helpful for those who have partners also working from home so you’re not both doing exactly the same hours. When you’re out of the normal office routine, it can suddenly be 1pm and you’ve not yet thought about lunch. Make sure you still make time to have coffee breaks and eat well to give you energy for the rest of the day.
Set yourself targets for the day
List out what you want to get achieved, break it down into chunks, morning and afternoon. This will give you a good sense of satisfaction when it comes to the end of the day, and if you don’t manage to achieve them all take a look at the reasons why, and try to change things for the following day.
The social element of going into the office can be greatly missed, so make an effort to speak to colleagues using Teams, WhatsApp and so on. It is important to keep feeling like you are part of a team even when working alone.
Also: get up! Take breaks! Move! You’re in the comfort of your own home so get up, move around, get those limbs stretched. Think about how often you get up from your desk at work: to make a coffee, go into meetings or pop to a colleague’s desk. Try to get up just as much at home. Do a spot of yoga in the living room at lunchtime. Go for a walk or run around the block to get some fresh air as part of your solo daily exercise that has been permitted within the UK lockdown.
There’s a natural absence of general feedback while you’re home working no matter how connected you all are remotely, so you’ll need to be able to work consistently and get into your own rhythm. Working out your own system for how you work at home can be incredibly helpful. Whether it’s writing lists, or setting reminders, figuring out how you work best when left to your own devices is key. And communicate! Managers will want to hear from you, remember how often you speak with them during the day – and sometimes it’s good to list out what you’re doing to help you get your own head around it.
In these uncertain times, there’s comfort in knowing that many other people are in the same position. If all your colleagues are working remotely, you might find that communication increases and that you’re checking in with your workmates more than ever. Keep taking breaks, keep focused, and keep connected.
Remember working from home doesn’t suit everyone, so if you feel you are struggling – speak to someone about it, let them give you their tips to help make it work better for you.