Five ways to work well from home

Working from Home during the Coronavirus Pandemic

A woman sits at a desk working from home

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Many people will begin working from home due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Thousands of people are likely to be working from home for the first time this week due to the coronavirus outbreak. For others, it’s just like any other week.

About 1.5 million people work from home, and it’s becoming more popular all the time.

So if you’re not self-isolating, but have been told to work remotely, what’s the best way to stay efficient and keep your spirits up?

1. Get dressed

For some people, the prospect of staying in their pyjamas all day is the most tantalising aspect of working from home. But washing and getting dressed will not only improve your state of mind, it will psychologically prepare you to start work.

Whether you need to change into business attire depends on the type of person you are and the nature of the job you have. Some people find that dressing formally is helpful, and also useful if they need to dial into a video call.

But for many others, the point of getting dressed is being forced to shower and change out of clothes they associate with sleep and rest, even if that means just changing into a T-shirt and jeans.

Wearing respectable clothes also increases motivation to leave the house. Likewise, changing out of work clothes when you clock off for the day helps your brain to understand that the working day is over.

2. Establish boundaries

If you’re employed by a company, you’ll probably have set hours of work, and it’s important to stick to these when you’re working from home. Be ready to start your day at the same time as you would normally arrive in your office or workplace, and finish your day at the same time.

 When working from home, it is best to stick to a routine and finish your day at a usual time

At the end of a working day, it’s best to switch off your computer and tidy away papers and other items. Space allowing, set aside a specific, separate area in your home where you can set yourself up – ideally with a properly adjusted desk and chair, similar to your workplace.

The NHS advice is that you should adjust your chair so you can use the keyboard with your wrists and forearms straight and level with the floor.

If there are other people in the house, finding a space where you’re not likely to be disturbed is essential, as Prof Robert Kelly found out the hard way in 2017. He was being interviewed live by BBC News when his two children burst into the room, creating a now infamous video, which has been viewed more than 30 million times.

3. Get out and about (if you’re not self-isolating)

Working from home shouldn’t mean you stay cooped up indoors all day. While you might not miss your daily commute, it does guarantee that you leave the house at least once during the day.

So get your shoes on, get outside and enjoy that fresh air. A different perspective will also help undo mental blocks and give you a fresh pair of eyes for any tasks you’re struggling with.

A woman on a bike

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Getting out and about can help increase creativity and help undo mental blocks

4. Pick up the phone

If you’re working from home, the chances are you’ll be alone, so you won’t get distracted by colleagues’ conversations and other office noise.

When you’re at work, you’re more likely to engage with colleagues but when you’re working from home, you could spend the whole day without speaking to anyone which can be isolating.

It’s easy to spend the day without speaking to anyone so it’s a good idea to call workmates or friends for a chat

Make some time to pick up the phone and have a real conversation, rather than relying on email and instant messaging.

Jack Evans is lead business psychologist at workplace wellness consultancy Robertson Cooper, which is planning to have all its staff temporarily work from home. Their plan is to speak to each other for 30 minutes every day via video conferencing.

“At about lunchtime we will just chat over video message about nothing in particular. It’s to make sure people don’t just turn into work monkeys. We will maintain conversation about work but it’s also about not losing that social connection, which is much easier to get in person.”

5. Take regular breaks

It’s good to have a routine when you’re working from home, but work shouldn’t become monotonous.

And you shouldn’t stay glued to your screen all day. It’s important to take regular screen breaks and get up from your desk and move around just as you would in an office.

Research has also found that short breaks throughout the day are more beneficial than less frequent, longer breaks.

Summarised from advice from BBC

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