Working From Home

Coronavirus: 6 tips to help working from home

Many businesses are asking employees to work remotely as the COVID-19 outbreak spreads, but can they stay productive?

Here are six top tips to get you started:

1. The number one rule of working from home is… leave the house! You’ve got to get out at some point during the working day. I usually ‘walk to work’ – made easier by having a lively dog – which means I get some fresh air along with a punctuation mark before getting started. Similarly, on my most productive home working days, I’ll start off with an hour at a local cafe which gives me a boost before getting my head down for the rest of the day. And I’ll strive for a run twice a week, or in summer a swim at my local beach during the working day.

2. Move around the house. Even in a small apartment, if you can, mix up your space – from desk to kitchen table to sofa. Just as I advocate moving around the office building for different tasks, try out different environments at home. Each shift to a new zone gives you a new perspective and can re-energise you if you’re struggling with a task. At home I seldom do most of my work at my desk in the study, I move around.

3. Put some boundaries around work. You need to look after yourself and draw a line under the day so it doesn’t encroach into your home life. I know a freelancer who had a desk in her bedroom. She found it really hard to switch off. Home and work can blur together particularly when your office is the kitchen table. So have some rules about when you’ll finish, or have a door that you can shut on your work when 6 pm or 7 pm comes. It can be especially hard when the segue from work to the family can be 10 seconds instead of being able to decompress on a 60-minute commute. You might find it useful to go for a walk at the end of the day too, to give you a few minutes’ separation.

4. Stay focused and switch off distractions. At home, there’s the fridge, the aforementioned TV, other family members, a pet, chores and so on. To get the work done, you’re going to have put all those things out of mind. You can do house-stuff during your lunch break, right now the to-do list matters most so you’ll need to keep focused.

5. Have some social interaction. Working from home can be lonely. So make sure you have some calls with fellow team members where you not only catch up on the projects you’re working on but also can share some tips on how you’re getting on with remote working. Or starting the day in a busy cafe can help – chatting to like-minded souls over a coffee can give you that fix of social interaction.

6. Know what YOU need to have a good day. Remember that you are in control of the environment when you work from home. You might do your best work in shorts and t-shirt, or by listening to the new album by Caribou, or after you’ve done an hour of yoga. It’s really important to tune into what you need and then make time for it. Know what ingredients you need in order to have a good day at work and design your working day accordingly.

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