It is tumultuous times we are facing; in the UK, we have been told to work from home (“WFH”) as much as possible as we have reached the “fast” phase of the virus; as well as other measures that is important to reduce the number of people contracting the virus.
Though I am going to be honest, WFH is something that I am not particularly good at. There has been a plethora of information on the web on how to be productive and better at it, so I thought that I would share what I found to be most useful. There will be some links at the end of this post for those who want to read more about it. I would also love your suggestions as well so please leave me a comment below!
Tip 1: Setting a routine
This is a great opportunity to sleep a little longer for those who don’t have to commute anymore and reset you body clock. However, it is also important to maintain and routine (and I have also been told to keep to complete my contracted hours at work). Currently, I still wake up at the same time, even if means I am rolling around for longer than usual. This is because I enjoyed the commute time to work as it is one of my opportunities to read and I wanted to maintain that. Therefore, I have my necessary sleep, cup of tea and reading time before starting my day to work.
Importantly, I also get up and change. Not necessarily into what I would normally wear at work (which is pretty chilled anyways) but this is just courtesy to your fellow colleagues who might have to see you on webcam (see further below) and also just to “mentally” prepare that you are “going to work”.
For lunch, block out time in your work calendar so your colleagues know when you will be away from your desk and use that time to relax and rest your eyes from staring at the screen. If you are as lucky as me, my partner and I are both at home together, we don’t speak much during working hours but we will connect during lunch and dinner.
Most importantly, make sure you know when it is necessary to stop. It is easy to become engrossed with what you are doing but just like you would leave work at a certain time, it is important to manage your work life balance.
Tip 2: Tidy Up
Tidying up your space and making a dedicated space for work is important. During this time, it is important to keep surfaces clean and disinfected, so use this an opportunity to create a calm space for yourself.
In addition, make sure that you have all the right equipment so that you are able to work. Push for your employer to provide you with the right equipment or subsidise you buying items to complete your work, such as an additional screen or keyboard. I get really distracted from a cluttered desk; so tidying up and cleaning up is a great way to take a break, which brings us nicely to the next tip!
Tip 3: Take regular breaks
In your normal working environment, your day is broken up by chats with colleagues/managers, meetings and just chilling in the kitchen when making a cup of tea/coffee. When at home, you have much more “deep work” time where you can work without being distracted by the usual hustle and bustle of a full open plan office.
This can become “too much” very quickly. The day has to be broken up, so build in that stretch time or making a cup of tea – zoom / slack/ call a colleague for a quick chat before returning to your work. I also try to use the Pomodoro technique which means that I set a timer for 25 mins to work and then I ensure I have a break of 5 mins before starting again.
Tip 4: Try to build in social time
There is a lot of evidence to suggest that quarantining could lead to loneliness and depression and as humans are social animals it is necessary to work on this. As an introvert, not having to interactive with a lot of people is great, but I still need that social connection. One great way is to have Whatsapp Web on your computer so that it is possible to have group chats with my best friends. As we are all now working from home, the little sidechats we have is extremely uplifting.
Why not set up a virtual buddy system where a group of three call each other once a week, even if it is just five minutes to check in on a social level. If you have Slack or other ways to communicate with colleagues, why not engage in the group chats or set up a new channel yourself to talk about something outside of work? Be creative, I am sure you would be surprised
So there are my top tips for now, as I said before, would love to hear your thoughts and here are some other resources for you to peruse. Stay safe everyone!