How to make it work
Working from home is what everyone is talking about now. It’s critical to do this if you can in order to slow the spread of this virus. You can literally be saving lives.
So how do we go about it? For some, it’s second nature, something they do often as a matter of course, for others… not so much! So here’s a few ideas and things to consider to make the transition period as smooth and painless as possible.
That’s ensuring you have a comfortable workspace, not in pyjamas on the sofa. People are using the phrase ‘we’re in the for the foreseeable ‘ which is vague, and it’s pointless to speculate, so let’s assume that it could be quite a while. You need a desk with enough space to for your laptop, mouse and pen and paper. This could mean slightly rearranging your living conditions for a while, but this will make your working from home that bit easier, and will add to your comfort and productivity.
A suitable chair is also a must as you’ll be sitting here for a while so make sure it’s right. If it’s a hard wooden dining chair, put a cushion or throw on it to make it softer and try not to slouch. Just because you’re at home you shouldn’t be ignoring eye position (it should be 20-26 inches away from your face, level with the top of your screen) and lighting. Lighting is an important one – we don’t often think about it in the office because it’s just there but our homes aren’t built like that. If your overhead light isn’t sufficient, bring a lamp down and open all the curtains – luckily we are now in Spring and lighter (sunny?) days are ahead of us meaning lots of natural light which is great for working and for our mental health.
Keep in touch
We’re all using emails and phone calls to keep in touch with the team. Regular contact is a must where possible. We are using Microsoft Teams, which if you haven’t used it’s like a WhatsApp group on your laptop where your team members can send messages, updates and info to the whole team. You can also send emojis and GIFs which are fun and keep morale up. This is always important but right now has become even more crucial. Sitting at home can be lonely, so maintaining the office banter, friendship and camaraderie is going to be the key to lifting spirits.
Make a plan
At the end of each day make a plan for tomorrow. Even if it’s just a to-do list, write it down and tick off tasks when they’re done. Ticking things off is satisfying, as you can see you are getting stuff done and making stuff happen. Sometimes at work you might think to yourself ‘if I had more time I could do xyz’ – try to see if this situation is giving you that extra time, and see what positives you can gain from this, because there will be positives and you can make them work for you. People might be more or less inclined to pick up the phone and answer emails, but try, keep doing what you need to do, don’t give up or think people are going to be too busy.
We are all in this together and work needs to carry on as close to normal as possible, so make the calls, send the emails, stay positive, keep focused on time and your goals, and keep moving forward. We will get through this and we will have learned valuable lessons along the way.
Routine is important. Get up early in the morning, no lie-ins. Get up, get washed, do your hair, get dressed as if you are going into the office. It’s so tempting not to, but this will drastically switch your mindset into work mode. Eat your breakfast away from your desk. Because once you have eaten you need to act as though you are traveling to work. Go over to your desk (this is now your commute, enjoy how quick it is!).
Plan and structure your day as you would in the office. Keep lunch to the same time, and regularly get up to make a coffee or tea. During your day, you can make plans for the following day – have a pen and paper handy to jot down anything that comes to you that you want to do. Plan it out, keep it ordered, structured and defined and don’t flit between things.
At the end of the day switch off. Move away from your desk space. Switching off from work is hard at the best of times. Now it’s all in your house it’s going to be even harder. If you live with someone ask them how their day was. This applies even if you’ve seen them wandering past to your kitchen throughout the day. Text or call a friend to ask them how their day has been. Stay virtually connected where possible.
Staying positive and maintaining your mental wellbeing throughout this can be tough, but it can be done. Talk to friends and join groups on social media with people who have similar interests. There are virtual concerts and events online and people are going live on Facebook/Instagram, and these things are a great way of keeping a connection with the outside world.
You can do this
Most important don’t worry if you have a bad day. This is a steep learning curve for us all. You may have a difficult day but as you go on there will be far more days that run smoothly and you’ll do a great day’s work. You’ll be making things happen and keeping your work going through these difficult times and for that you should be really proud of yourself. You can do this, because we’re all doing this and we’re all in this together.
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