These 7 tips for working from home could apply at any point within your career, but now more than ever whilst we’re in the midst of a global pandemic. Over the years, working from home has never been an option for me, usually because of micro-management. But since starting my current role, I’ve had the flexibility of working from home when needed; whether I’ve got a delivery, doctors, or have to take our rabbits to the vet, I’ve always been able to do so with no worries over where I work from for the remainder of the day – as long as I’m accessible via Microsoft Teams, there’s no issue to discuss.
That’s why when it started to become apparent that working from home was indeed going to be the future for many of us during the Covid-19 pandemic, it was easy enough for me to pack my laptop and notebooks, and drive away from the office for the last time in goodness knows how long. So without further ado, here are my 7 tips for working from home.
Create a work space
DO NOT work from your bed or sofa. Create yourself a workspace where you can have all your essential work gear laid out in front of you; laptop, notebook, pen and anything else you may need. Perhaps space is limited in your home and a desk isn’t possible. If that’s the case, sit at your dining table or breakfast bar.
Creating a work space which is similar to what you’d have at work e.g. a desk of some sort, is going to help you concentrate more and stay in the mind set of working from the office. If you’re working from your bed or sofa, it’s going to be all too tempting to just switch on the TV or even take a 10 minute nap here and there. Not forgetting, working from your bed or sofa for 8+ hours of the day is going to give you major back ache.
Have a routine
Create a routine that suits you. Not everyone is the same, but having a routine to follow each day is sure going to help you stay in the work mindset. In the first 3 weeks of working from home, I was getting up at 8.45am to enjoy these new lie-ins, having a quick shower, get dressed then literally walk across the landing into my new office space, then start my day. That might sound great, but I felt awful for it. By 11am I’d be flagging and feeling like I needed a power nap.
That’s when I tried to get back into the same routine I had pre-lockdown; up at 7.30am, shower, dress, eat breakfast, feed the rabbits, chill with a cuppa for 10 minutes on the sofa and then up to the office I go! By getting myself into this new routine I felt so much better and more productive by the day. I still get to have a lie-in each day compared to my previous 6.30am alarms, but I’m not taking advantage of the opportunity too much.
When I was back in the main office, I was always on the move. We’d be in and out of meeting rooms, you’d go for a good 2-3 minute walk down to the canteen and back again, then 5 minutes to and from your car, possible walk around the shop (albeit, I appreciate not all offices have on-site shops). This type of activity easily gets overlooked when in the main office, but once you’re working from home, you’re no longer as active. So, one of my other tips for working from home is to keep yourself moving.
When I go downstairs to make a drink, I make it a habit now to do some star jumps whilst I wait for the kettle to boil. I also make a habit of running up and down the stairs rather than walking, just to get my blood pumping. Some mornings I’ll enjoy a 20 minute walk to treat myself to a Costa or a breakfast cob from Greggs. Other days I’ll even take 10 minutes out of my lunch break to do a mini workout. I’m not an extremely active person naturally, but these small exercises help get me out of my chair and moving.
Speaking of lunch, take a break
When in the office, it’s likely you’ll take 5 minute breaks here and there to go to the communal kitchen and make yourself a drink. You might even stop and have a chat with some colleagues whilst you’re there, turning it into a 10 minute break every couple hours. Do the same at home.
I set myself a 10 minute break every 2 hours, just as an opportunity to get a change of scenery; stand outside for some fresh air, get a snack, make a quick phone call, or even quickly put a load of washing on so it’s one less thing to worry about later. But also don’t forget to take your normal lunch break. Remember, you’re still not getting paid for your lunch break as most contracts state, so make sure you take that time out for yourself.
Try to stick to your contracted hours
I say try, as I know how difficult it is to switch off and come 7.30pm, you’re still sat there. It’s likely you’re not getting paid overtime, and it’s likely no one is even going to appreciate the extra hours you’re putting in or even notice, so try to switch-off come the end of your normal working day.
I got into a habit for a while of working until 11pm, taking just an hour out in the evening to cook, eat and sit on the sofa. Now, I’ve got much better and when it comes to 5-6pm I’m able to shut everything off and leave it until the next day. There are the odd evenings I continue working, but that’s inevitable if you’ve got a big project on or tight deadlines to meet.
Get fresh air
I’ve never gone for a walk during the day whilst working from home, but I have gone into the garden to get some much needed Vitamin D and enjoy the fresh air. It’s not nice being cooped up all day, so a bit of fresh air is good for you and helps to clear your mind.
Stay in touch with your colleagues
You’ll be communicating with your team weekly if not daily, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be doing the same with the colleagues you used to sit next to and always had a laugh with. Me and my colleagues; some I work directly with, others I don’t, have a bi-weekly video call set-up for just 30 minutes every Friday morning. It’s a great way of keeping in touch, discussing anything but work (although not always the case) and just have a laugh.
What are your tips for working from home?