The precautions taken by many employers with the arrival of coronavirus may mean you may find yourself suddenly working from home, some for the first time.
Although at least at first, this may seem like a dream come true many are struggling with work-life balance – getting your work done with multiple distractions and in a different environment – and their physical and mental well-being.
So here are some useful strategies to help if you want to be productive and still feel connected to your workplace over what might be a long working-from-home period.
Work as normal
- Prepare yourself for a normal working day. Get up as usual, shower, dress ( for a casual workday), brush your hair, look as normally presentable as you usually do. This will help to get you in a work mindset.
- Set up a desk at home as you would at work. Replicate your work situation as well as you can in a quiet room. Try not to use your bedroom or work in bed. Aim to have a neutral background behind you if you’ll be video chatting. Minimize distractions and noises from others in your household.
- Connect with your colleagues – there are so many great apps to allow communication, work-sharing, and connection. Trello, Asana, Slack, Skype, Zoom – just to name a few
- Have the right tools – laptops, network access, passwords and steps for remote login. As your home data usage may increase, boost your Wi-fi facilities if needed – refer to the support offered by your telco or internet provider. Some are offering free upgrades to customers.
- Book in daily work meetings via video conferencing to stay connected and plan work tasks.
- Plan for a full workday and prioritise your tasks as usual. Ensure you know what is expected of you. Be clear about your daily work tasks and project due dates by discussing them with your supervisor.
- Teamwork – If you are part of a team, make sure you know what each member is working on and when their work is due. Follow this up with calls and emails.
- Keep it personal – it’s preferable to discuss any problems via phone or a video call to clarify issues. Don’t start a complicated email chain!
Protect and nurture your Mental Health
- Acknowledge – I think it’s normal to feel some anxiety about the current world events. We are in uncharted waters. You may feel a bit overwhelmed by the directive to work from home, and also anxious about the broader coronavirus situation. Just take note of how you feel – after all, you can’t improve what you don’t acknowledge.
- Take steps – It’s important to look after your psychological health, during what could potentially become long periods of isolation. Think of some ways that you can support yourself. For example
- Social contact remains important. If you’re used to having lunch or coffee with colleagues, plan a quick social phone or video call to each other at lunchtime or after you have finished a few hours of work. It’s really important to stay connected with your colleagues as usual and to make sure everyone feels supported.
- Get fresh air. Where possible, have a daily walk to a local shop, or at least get outside in your garden or balcony. Hang out some washing, walk the dog, water a plant, enjoy some sunshine, just take a break from your desk and move around.
- Call family, friends, and colleagues to see how they’re doing. Stay socially connected.
- Use video technology (Skype, Zoom, Facetime, etc) to stay socially connected with your work colleagues.
- Take stock – think through how you will maintain your work-home boundaries. As a society – we’ve become used to blurring these boundaries a little, which is often beneficial, helping us to manage our multiple demands. But when your home and work are located in the same place, the boundary setting needs some rethinking.
- Set time limits – start and finish work as you previously would have.
- Separation of tasks – be aware of home demands interfering with your work. Don’t procrastinate work tasks by first doing some housework. Set yourself targets to complete work tasks. Equally, don’t let work take over your home life – just because work is always there doesn’t mean you have to be.
- Take regular breaks (as usual) – walk away from your desk. Engage with your family and friends. A period of psychological recovery from work is vital to make sure you feel rested and productive for working from the next day.
- Exercise (yep, I know I already said that! It’s really important though). Eat well and, get enough sleep.