With COVID-19 cases on the rise again and government guidelines suggesting to work from home when you can, you may be getting flashbacks from the 2020 lockdown.
But this time is different. Schools are open and life still has the go-ahead with limited social restrictions.
You may be feeling somewhat deflated if you are just working from home – and that’s completely normal given the year we’ve all had! So here are some principles to help guide you to a positive working from home experience: routine, wellbeing, environment and connection.
Starting your day with your everyday routine while working from home may seem odd at first, but a routine ensures you have your rhythm for the day ahead.
Although it’s tempting to steal an extra half hour or so in bed instead of your normal commute, this may affect you throughout the working day. Try using your “commute time” to spend time relaxing and unwinding. This could include exercising, reading, listening to music or a podcast. Find what works for you.
At work, you get regular breaks. This may be going to the kitchen to have a cup of tea and having a quick catch-up with a colleague and these short breaks can help to improve productivity.
You could try planning a 5-10 minute break with a colleague, and have a phone call while making a cup of tea. Don’t skip your lunch break, spend some time outdoors if possible, or take time to do something for yourself. You will find yourself being more focused and motivated when returning to your workstation.
Try to stay consistent with normal sleep and work patterns when possible. Without steady schedules, the lines between work and personal time can get blurred. When your workday stops, shut down your workstation and focus on your home life.
Make a dedicated workspace. Try and limit distractions and people interaction. Get everything you need in one place before you start work, and shut the door if you can to limit distractions.
Make sure you’re comfortable. While lying in bed or sitting slouched on the sofa may seem tempting, it’s more beneficial to work at a table. Having this workspace at home will make it easier for you to do your work and switch off after work.
Some distractions can’t be avoided, but limiting them will enhance your overall work from home experience. Discuss your needs with people who live with you and try sharing your schedule, so they know when they can approach you if needed.
Staying connected is important for a positive work from home experience. This will be different from traditional ways to stay connected in the workplace.
There are multiple online solutions for staying connected. Some examples are Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Zoom Meetings or Whatsapp Groups. An idea could be to have short check-in calls with colleagues at the start or end of your working day.
Set your communication priorities up early. Which people are most important for you to connect with? Who needs your contact the most? Through which channels are you going to communicate? These are all questions you should prioritise and remind yourself of.
Don’t forget colleagues may not be feeling as positive as you, so ask how they are and whether there are ways you can support each other.
Whilst working from home has its benefits, you may feel more isolated. It’s important to remember that social distancing does not mean social isolation, this is true to work also.
Whatever way works, stay socially connected to the world outside, even if you don’t think you need it yourself, there will be people out there who do – boosting their mental wellbeing as well as your own.
Don’t forget to reach out to colleagues or managers about your concerns, try picking up the phone instead of emailing to increase human interaction.
And don’t forget to be kind to yourself, acknowledge how you’re feeling and be realistic about what you can achieve. Log out once work is done, and don’t log back in until the next morning.
Remember: routine, environment, connections and wellbeing. Trying to do these things can help to create a more positive attitude towards working from home. Other people are in your position, don’t let yourself feel isolated and use your voice to speak to those around you.