The hashtag #wfh (working from home) is currently trending online, which isn’t surprising, considering that millions of us are working remotely due to the coronavirus crisis. With lockdown expected to last for another few weeks yet, it’s likely that for some, the novelty of working from home will wear off soon enough. If you find yourself in this situation, panic not. Consult HR’s Julie Pollock shares her top tips for working away from the office.
Get up & dressed as normal
When working from home, there is obviously the temptation to wear pyjamas or loungewear all day long. However, you should dress for your work environment. Wearing such clothing is likely to have an impact on your mood and therefore impact your productivity.
You don’t need to dress as formally as you might usually do but the act of actually getting dressed sends a signal to the brain that it’s time to get to work. How often have you spent the day or weekend lounging about, only to finally get showered and dressed before admitting that you “Feel more human”? The same applies when you’re working remotely. The way to think about it is that you should always be prepared for unexpected video calls from colleagues or managers, so get ready each day with that scenario in mind.
2. Create a designated workspace or office
For those who work remotely from home full time (such as freelancers) one of their biggest challenges is separating their work and home lives. One way to ensure that you can fully disconnect from work is by having a physical area for it. If you have a home office – great! If not, you’ll need to find somewhere that serves this purpose and which is distraction-free. If you can, avoid working from the kitchen table, sofa or bed. Having an area – such as a dining room – so that you can physically close the door at the end of the day is ideal.
Set up the area as best as you can so that it resembles a workspace environment. Consider what you use on a daily basis in your office and make sure you have access to any computer programmes or software that you might need. Place your desk where there is good lighting, make sure the temperature is comfortable and that you have stocked up on pens and stationery.
3. Stick to working hours
There is always the temptation to sleep in and start work later, but it is better to stick to your usual working hours. This means that you are more likely to be productive during this time and being on the same schedule as your co-workers makes things easier for everyone. If you live with other people, or find that others in your household are also working from home, separate yourself from them and establish boundaries in order to limit distractions during the day.
That way, when you are finished for the day, you can give others your full attention. Carving out a separate time for work will ensure you are more present in your home life.
4. Incorporate travel times & rituals
The physical act of getting ourselves to work each day actually sets us up for the day ahead. As mentioned above, it’s best to avoid lying in each morning. You might think that you are saving yourself commute time and therefore it’s warranted. However, use this time to set yourself up for the day. If you usually listen to your favourite podcast or playlist on the way to work, continue to carry out this ritual.
Likewise, the act of travelling and arriving home serves as a wind down time each day, so again, try to continue with this. If, for example, you usually walk the dog before making your dinner, make sure you do these things. This way, you will remind both your mind and body that you have finished work for the evening.
5. Avoid distractions
It can be tempting to sit down in front of the TV at lunchtime but before you know it, you’ve been sucked in and find yourself saying: “Just one more episode.” Taking breaks are important but make them just that. Throwing on a load of washing or emptying the dishwasher is fine but don’t be tempted to take on bigger tasks which can easily take over your day.
6. Communication with your team is key
There is a certain level of trust that comes with working remotely. One thing that is expected to come out of the current crisis is that more employees are likely to request working from home and employers will to be more open to allowing this to happen. This is your opportunity as a manager to test the water and see how this works.
The key is to communicate clearly with your staff. Whether it’s a Zoom call in the morning, outlining the schedule for the day, requesting a report at the close of business showing what each team member has achieved that day or a weekly team meeting, when everyone is on the same page and are aware of what is expected of them, things run more smoothly.
Finally, don’t be tempted to default to text-based communication. Don’t email someone if it is something you would usually speak to them about in person. Pick up the phone, or better still, jump on a video call. Seeing and speaking to people is an easy way to ensure we all feel connected.
7. Remember to socialise
One of the big things we’re seeing is just how well people can stay in contact, despite being separated. So many apps such as Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and House Party allow multiple people to engage in video calls at the same time. Have a virtual 10 O’Clock coffee break with the team or if you have a Friday ritual of a drink after work, there’s no reason why you can’t continue this. Getting everyone on the same call – even for just a few minutes – will keep morale high and connections open.
If you require further support with the Coronavirus please feel free to contact Julie Pollock on 07858089006 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit our website here: www.consulthr.co.uk