Working from home requires structure, patience, flexibility, and good old willpower. With the right routine, you’ll be working from home like a pro in no time. How do I know? I’ve worked from home for the best part of this century so have worked out the pros and cons along with challenging workplaces to allow workers to work from home (no mean feat).
According to the Office for National Statistics, only 5% of the UK labour force worked mainly from home in 2019. That figure has dramatically increased as a result of the lockdown measures implemented to tackle the spread of Covid-19 in 2020.theguardian.com
Structure isn’t always about getting your tasks for the day in order, it also includes making sure you have the tools you need to communicate effectively. The following is a list of essential equipment when working from home.
- A decent internet connection speed
- A reliable computer/laptop
- Communication software such as Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime (if using these, check that your computer has a camera and microphone)
- Somewhere comfortable to work (this isn’t the sofa, your spine won’t thank you for that)
- Access to any software used by your workplace
- Finding the best place to take phone calls if you don’t use a landline – quiet and with good signal strength (this is the top of the garden for me!)
Once you have your equipment sorted, what else should you look at?
- Set your working hours – it’s very easy to let work creep into your downtime, so be sure not to check your work emails or answer work calls outside of your work time. You should also let everyone in your household know when you’ll be working so they can give you some peace and quiet
- Agree with your line manager when you are available to take calls, meetings, etc and also when you’ll be communicating your status updates or deliverables each day
- Ask your partner in advance to keep children or animals out of the way when making calls or attending online meetings. If you don’t have a partner, or are alone with children and/or animals,
Self-care when working from home
Working from home can lead to feeling ‘always on’. To avoid this, make sure you’re taking regular breaks. Work breaks into your set working hours so everyone knows when you’re not available. You should also make a habit of shutting work out at the end of the day – don’t read emails, don’t take calls, and turn your equipment off.
Try to spot the signs of burnout before it’s too late. When you start to feel overwhelmed, take a break then work out what the priority tasks are. Don’t try to do everything for everyone.
Working from home is a great time to introduce mindfulness and yoga into your daily routine. Even doing a small amount of yoga at the start of each day can boost physical and mental wellbeing
Staying in the loop
Keeping in contact with your colleagues helps to increase morale and ensure you don’t miss out on important tasks or information. Holding regular catch-ups with your team helps nurture the sense of community we feel as part of a wider workforce. There’s lots of free software and apps to stay in touch if your workplace hasn’t supplied you with any. Zoom is the most popular video conferencing app of 2020 so far, but you can also look at Google Hangouts and Houseparty which offer similar features to Zoom.
Try not to obsess about keeping up to date with every bit of company news or finding out what the rest of the team have been up to. Be kind to yourself and understand that one of the downsides to working from home is that you won’t be as ‘in the loop’ as those who are working together at the office. The perk of being out of the loop sometimes, however, means your mind will get to have a little more rest and relaxation.
Working from home: key takeouts
Set yourself a good routine and try to stick to your breaks and working hours – this will help everything to run smoothly and allow you the downtime you need. At the end of the working day, be sure to switch off your equipment (that includes emails on your personal phone) and close the proverbial door on work for the day.
Anything to add? Let me know in the comments section, below, or drop me a line.