So, you’ve been told to work at home, now what? Whether it’s a job role change or due to the COVID-19 pandemic, having to work from home can be a shock to the system. Don’t worry though, we’re here with some working from home tips to make your transition to home working as smooth – and productive - as possible!
Re-train your brain to work from home
Its 9am, you’re still at home, and your brain thinks it’s the weekend…This mindset can be one of the biggest hurdles to overcome when working from home. We are creatures of habit after all!
One way to re-train your brain to work at home is to do everything you would normally do in the morning all the way up to stepping foot out of the house. Enjoy your morning shower, get dressed, brush your teeth and make your breakfast just like normal.
And the time you usually spend commuting? Why not enjoy an extra 20 minutes in bed or really savor your breakfast? You could even go for a walk and get your favourite coffee to-go - starting your day off with some much-needed fresh air and caffeine. However you want to do it, take full advantage of that freed up time!
Working in an office gives you structure: that departmental meeting on a Monday, a check-in with your manager every Tuesday afternoon and familiar faces popping up that remind you to do that task. But what are you supposed to do when that structure gets stripped away? A to-do list will be your new best friend.
Whether you like post-its, online corkboards like Trello, word docs, or a plain old list in your notepad, never doubt the power of a good to-do list. When you have clear set objectives for the day ahead you can stop flapping and wasting time and get that work done.
It can also be therapeutic to make a to-do list for when you finish work with tasks like reading a few chapters of your new book, a home yoga video or baking your favourite cakes – giving you something to look forward to.
Take those breaks
When you’re at work, do you sit at your desk for a solid 8 hours, only getting up to go to the toilet? No (if you do – please stop!). It’s very important to take breaks at work. Whether it’s to stretch your legs and go and get a coffee or have a little chat with your colleagues. Ensure you keep this up while working at home - your brain will thank you! In fact, taking what experts call ‘microbreaks’ has been seen to improve concentration, decrease stress, make work more enjoyable. They can also reduce typical injuries you can get from sitting at your desk all day1. So, make sure you’re still taking that tea break and walking around a little – a quick 10 minute walk outside could be the perfect creativity or productivity booster.
Just because you’re at home, it doesn’t mean that you have to skip your lunch break. If anything you can make lunch that little bit sweeter with your own kitchen, supplies and entertainment (episode of your new favourite series anybody?). As long as you’re working your normal hours, getting your work done and not taking advantage, your breaks are still very valid and important. Spend them how you like!
In our modern-day lives, there’s really no excuse for staying connected to your colleagues while working at home. Try to match your communication to your needs. Need to check in with your manager about your progress on a project? Perhaps an email or instant message on a channel like Slack would do. Want to bounce ideas off your colleagues for a new piece of work? Maybe a group video or voice call could be helpful. Just make sure you stay connected and you’ll find working from home much easier.
It's also important to disconnect once your working day is done - letting your colleagues know you're enjoying some much-needed me-time. Just because you're working from home doesn't mean that you have to work more, so stick to your normal hours as much as possible. Fill your evening with activities you enjoy - and leave those emails alone!
So you’ve set up your work-from-home desk and are ready to get stuck-in, but your child decides they want to come in and ask you 50 questions about dinosaurs. Or maybe your stay-at-home parent friend has heard you’re working from home and rocks up uninvited for a catch-up at 11am. What can you do?
Obviously, distractions happen throughout the day, especially if your kids are home, but you need to try and set some boundaries. One way you can do this is telling everybody (including yourself) your working hours and explaining that you can catch up, talk about dinosaurs, etc. after you finish work.
With children it’s obviously different but try to plan activities to keep them occupied while you work and try to explain the situation to them as best you can. Otherwise they’re likely to think you’re just staying home to entertain them all day!
Last updated: 02 November 2020