Home working continues – How to deal with it.
How are you coping with it?
Whilst many of us are used to working from home and have a nice set up already to accommodate our work, not everyone is as lucky. COVID-19 has changed so many aspects of our lives and our work is a major part of it. For those whose jobs permit home working it can feel like a blessing and a curse.
I have a friend who is used to working from home day in day out and working virtually with his team so the restrictions we are all facing haven’t phased him in the slightest and his work feels very much like business as usual. For others this is whole new concept to deal with or you might have worked from home one day a week but 5 days is sometime else.
If you are now into week 4 or 5 of home working and you have not managed to find your groove and routine then I hope this article will help. Home working is something that needs to be considered and time taken to set it up property so that you can work at your optimum and for it to work with your house and your family. Being forced into it overnight can be a shock to the system but hopefully you’re coping with the concept of it at least even if this logistics are giving you a headache.
The secret to cracking home working is discipline. It is not only about your work area, but it is also about you and how you approach it. You need to be in the right mind-set when you approach your work so always, always, always get dressed! Do not stay in your pj’s. Even if you don’t put your makeup on or shave – make sure you are fresh and dressed. How can you be at your best if you haven’t cleaned your teeth, brushed your hair and changed into actual clothes that you would be happy to be seen out of the house in?
Having a clear and distinct area for work is an absolute must. If you are not lucky enough to have a spare room or area that you can dedicate in your home to creating a home office then you need to think practically about where you can set up your office. If that means you need to turn your dressing table into a desk then so be it. If you need to commandeer a corner of the dining table then do it. It is much harder if there is more than one person working from home or you are having to home school your kids too but it can be done. Get disciplined with who does what and when. If you all need access to the table then get a rota going if you all can’t work together. Tag team each other and arrange tasks so that you can all have access to the table. If the kids are reading then they don’t need a desk. If you are on a conference call and only need to eyeball the person then that could be done on the sofa or in a chair in another room. Working on a laptop or PC should always be done at a table. For the health of your body and back in particular if nothing else but it is also a mind-set thing, so that you feel you are in work mode and on it. Do not fall into the habit of logging on to your laptop whilst sat on the sofa and then thinking I’ll move in a minute. Or trying to create a workspace on your bed with your laptop in front of you and you lying down. On what level does that create a productive, ‘I’m on it’ work environment? It doesn’t, on any level, no way, no how!
This may sound obvious but stay hydrated. It is so easy to be cracking on with a task and forget to pause for a drink. Water is key to concentration. Don’t rely on caffeine to get you through the day. Have a bottle or flask of water on hand and make sure you are drinking at least 2 litres of water per day. This will obviously make you pee more which is good to flush out toxins, but it will also make you move. Pee breaks will at least make you stretch your legs.
This might also seem obvious but make sure you break for lunch. A lot of people have a perception about home working and that it is one long break and that everyone is skiving. The reality is that most people work harder and longer hours when at home because you are not distracted. Breaking for lunch and getting a good meal in you is just as important as staying hydrated. If you find yourself losing track of time then set an alarm on your phone and stick to it. I am just as guilty for setting an alarm and then snoozing it because I am in the zone. The reality though is that I am more able to start my work after a break if I am midway through a task than trying to crank myself up with a new task. Finishing a task has a clearer end and it gets you back into the workflow than sitting there mulling over where to being with a new task. By the time you get to that new task your brain is flying and you are at your best.
Communication is key. My partner is working from home now and whilst he used to work at home one day a week, having him here 5 days a week has been an adjustment for both of us. I at least have a dedicated office as a long-term home worker but he has had to create one. The biggest challenge that we have faced is him being on the phone a lot. He is by his own admission loud and even with doors closed and music on I can often hear him which is distracting to say the least. Instead of stewing and getting annoyed at his volume disturbing me I tell him, kindly, to try and keep it down. To give him credit he apologises and does try. Whilst there might be the odd occasion where I need to remind him that his volume is increasing we are able to work in close proximity. Never let something someone else is doing bother you. It will take you away from the task at hand and create a really weird vibe and with us all being at home all the time it is not healthy. Feedback with love and respect and receive feedback with love and respect and it will create a much more harmonious environment.
At the end of the workday make sure you tidy your work away if you have been working at the dining table, breakfast bar, dressing table etc. Whilst it might be a pain to pack your work away only to get it out in the morning it will help you switch off at the end of the day. Even if you put it in a box it doesn’t matter. It is important to distinguish between work time and non-work time. Packing your work away says you are done for the day. It also makes sure that your home feels like a home when it is down time and allows you to eat round the table or put your makeup on it the morning. Don’t get into the habit of leaving your work out and then eating off your knee on the sofa. This is such a bad habit and you don’t want it to spread into ‘normal’ life when we come out of this lock down situation and you default to eating on the sofa.
So to summarise the secrets to cracking home working are:
Always get dressed
Have a dedicated work space
Talk to each other
Take breaks and eat lunch
Clear your work away
BIG NO NO’s
Staying in your pj’s all day and not washing or brushing your hair
Working on your bed, on your sofa or anywhere else that does not have a desk style arrangement
Not drinking enough water
Not having breaks in the day
Not clearing your work away at the end of the day
Not being open with those around you if their work is impacting on yours
At this point in time it is an unknown when things will return to normal. It could be a few weeks or it could be months but the encouraging thing is that it will go back to normal. Hopefully this time has allowed you to garner some good habits and reconnect with what is important to you and your family. I hope you stay safe and that you found this article useful. You never know, some companies may see how well this has worked for them and you and home working might become the norm for many of you. If that is the case – make sure you get a good desk arrangement created and stay disciplined!