Working from Home is a challenge, there’s no doubt about it. Some people are better at it than others and even with those who are more disciplined, there is still a bedding-in period and no this doesn’t mean a lie-in!
Working from home can be great for some, but for others, they despise it. Especially during this period of social distancing, isolation can be difficult. Although video-calls aren’t quite as good as face-time, they are greatly beneficial in ensuring frequent interaction.
Some of us would consider ourselves extroverts, others introverts, personally I don’t think it’s as simple as that. It is my understanding that this can change depending on many factors including environment, conditioning, situations and so on. The same person can be sociable one day and then want to avoid seeing others the next day. The reason that I mention this is because it is important that you monitor changes in behaviours both with yourself, but also with others. If you notice a change in yourself, then reflect on it, try and understand what has caused the change and what you can do about it. If you notice a change in others, then ask them how they are feeling. Some people struggle to open up, so start by telling them how you are feeling to help create a sense of open and trustworthy communication. By giving a little information, you are more likely to get people to open up.
Insights from our team
Kindly, some of our team at novi.digital have put together their perspective on how to get the most of working from home. I’ll start with my perspective and follow on with the feedback from the team below.
- If you live with a partner, friend or family member(s), then diarise your interaction ahead of time. This not only ensures to minimise interruption, but it makes sure that you get space away from work to spend quality time with your friends and family.
- Talk openly about how you are feeling. Every day is different.
- If you are fortunate enough to have a separate space for you and space for your partner to work, consider alternating if this is possible. This creates variation in your day.
- Know that it is okay to have a bad day. If you are anything like me I want to feel a sense of achievement every day, whether that is completing one big task or emailing 100 clients. On the bad days, I find myself striving to do one last email, make one more campaign change, often at 10pm, reflecting on whether my calendar has been full or counting my total emails. This is not a good use of time nor energy. Instead, focus on what you will achieve tomorrow.
- Use your weekends and evenings to make sure your environment is prepared for your working day.
- Keep yourself hydrated and fed. Fruit and Vegetables.
- Try to exercise at the beginning of the day before you start work. There’s no commuting time, so use this time to workout. If you are someone that likes to freestyle (I know I do), then create an environment that works for you. I have a yoga mat, jump rope, 2.5kg weights for yoga exercises and 10kg weights for reps. Exercise equipment doesn’t need to be exercise and you don’t need to worry about what you look like. The fact it is that you are making the effort.
- Don’t do any housework during your working hours. It blends the work/home balance and this way you have more things to do after 5pm.
- Try to work in an environment you don’t also use to relax. I work in the upstairs spare room, which is where I only put on makeup etc. so I don’t associate this room with my ‘me time’ and I have clear boundaries of work and home in the house.
- If you have a garden/balcony – utilise it! Eat your lunch there, have a drink there after work. Get as much fresh air and non-house space as you can.
- Make the most of being able to cook/prep meals you wouldn’t normally make. If there’s a recipe you always wanted to try but never made because it would take too long – treat yourself!
- If you can go for a walk after work. Even if it’s just 5 minutes or around the block, this helps reset ‘I’ve been at work now I’m at home’.
- Drink water – it’s easy to make coffees all day, but this will only dehydrate you and give yourself a caffeine addiction (caffeine withdrawal headaches are the worst).
- Have windows open. Get as much fresh air as you can. Try and keep your temperature cool, everyone is sleepy and lethargic in a warm/toasty office, it would only be the same at home.
- Don’t worry if everything the guide says doesn’t work for you – that’s okay. Everyone has their own routines and habits, this is only to help people find theirs, not tell them.
- Get up and get dressed as you would normally, staying in house clothes could decrease your productivity as you associate it with rest.
- In the same logic, it is important for me to get up and sit at a desk. Mimic your work space as much as possible to feel like you are about to start a day of work.
- Take your lunch and use it to step away from the screen, walk around, go outside, cook a meal, personally it isn’t productive for me to close the work tab and open a new leisure one. It’s good to have a clear break.
- On the topic of food, it helps me to have the same amount of snacks I would take to the office. The proximity to the kitchen and fridge could be an issue for people who don’t watch what they are consuming, and how much more they are doing so now that there is always more nearby.
- Get to 5pm (or when you are done with your days task) and turn off, I try to go outside for a walk as I would be walking and getting the bus home. A clear end of the day, helps distinguish Work time and home time even when they are the same space.
- Exercise, find a home exercise you enjoy. Find a plan you can follow from the endless Instagram accounts that have supplied them, watch and do a live Instagram from one of them, learn yoga through YouTube, learn dance through videos, etc. Find whichever works best and stick to it as you would with your gym. This not only helps physically as you aren’t getting your usual steps now that you aren’t commuting to an office, but also mentally (all the benefits we know of) and gives you a sense of fulfilment. Yoga could be great help for any anxiety at this time, from breathing techniques to learning how to shut your mind off.
- Try as much as possible not to handle personal tasks during office hours, as you wouldn’t when in an office. The putting away your clothes could wait before for 5pm, now it can too.
- Communicate with your work colleagues, try to maintain the heathy contact you had with them once in an office.
- Know that these tips are purely personally and different people will have different ways to be productive. Remember that you are doing your best and your way of doing things doesn’t need to be the same as your colleagues, as long as you provide the same level of service you used to when not at home.
- I personally enjoy working from home and always used my day of the week before to do so. As long as you keep the same quality of work, I think it is great for a change of scenery and a sense of a shorter week, an extra hour at least of sleep for tiring weeks, more free time without the commute back, less CO2 emissions, less stress (my daily morning stress for the bus/the traffic that keeps changing).
- Where possible, make your work space away from areas where you typically relax. Having a separate work station from where you unwind of an evening will make it easier for you to focus when you’re working, and, even more important, help you switch off when you’re done.
- Under ordinary circumstances, workers have the commute to and from work to disassociate from their working day. Lacking that, try to make a ritual out of doing something when you sign out of work. It’s a great place to slot in any daily exercise you might be doing, but even something simple like spending half an hour reading, watching an episode of something on Netflix, or grabbing a shower will help reset the brain.
- Take regular breaks. This is vital if 1 and 2 are difficult to fit into your regime. It’s important not to overwork yourself and take the time you need to rest away from the screen.
- Talk to someone. If you have a network of friends or family that you can speak to about your mental health, do so regularly. Check in with them regularly too.
- Try not to minimise your own situation. It’s a very human trait (or a very British trait!) to minimise our circumstances in light of other people’s. If you are upset, angry, annoyed, upset or stressed, you won’t be doing yourself any favours if you pretend you’re not feeling it.
- It’s a great time to try and learn new skills that will help break up routines and the monotony.
- Getting dressed for work allows you to get yourself into a work mindset and increases the separation between home and work. Most people would dress differently going into the office than they would be relaxing at home and throughout working at home, it is beneficial to do so.
- Separate your “home” space from “work” space, if and where possible.
- Make sure to spend some time outside. Fresh air is good for the soul and helps to keep perspective. Taking time outside will enable you to think of a better way to resolve a problem.
- Spend your lunchtimes away from a screen, as well as other breaks throughout the day. RSI happens over time, so actively work to prevent it.
- Choose to video conference instead of phone calls. You are talking anyway, so it might as well be face-to-face.
- Calendarise your day. Making sure that everything you have a clearly allocated time and day.
- Work away from or remove distractions. Discipline yourself and reward yourself if you successfully avoid distraction, this way you are reinforcing your own behaviours.
- Communicate with your team members more frequently than previously. When you are around people communication might be more autonomous, but now more than ever, you need to ensure that you make the effort.
- Sit somewhere comfortable. Posture is vital, but so is comfort.
The bonus round…
The following are not so much work from home tips, but more so general working tips.
- Try using the Grammarly app on your mobile phone and browser. It’s inevitable that you are likely very busy at present and if something is going to slip, then it is likely to be spelling, grammar, and punctuation (I’m using it right now).
- Delaying your email by 1 or 2 minutes. Again, if mistakes are made, then it is likely more now than ever to happen with emails. We strongly encourage all members of our team to have a delay on their emails being sent. This helps your brain to think of corrections or amends for a period of time after you’ve hit send.
- Have an app on your phone for your wellbeing, examples include Headspace or Calm. Both apps are focusing on taking time for you. The irony is that they are on your device that is most likely to be one of the biggest causes of stress in your life, but with headphones and eyes closed, you can forget that the phone exists for just a minute or two.
- Take time to learn. Learning can give you satisfaction even at the most basic of levels.
- Finally, do what is right for you. You know yourself better than anyone else, so focus on spending your time doing the things that enable the best version of you. There are only so many things that you can control and although things might not be quite perfect right now, make sure you have a vision for what success looks like. If you know what success looks like, then you can put yourself one step closer to achieving it. Don’t worry if your version of success changes, this is simply allowing your vision to evolve as you learn and adapt.
In closing, if you wish to read more, ACAS and CIPD have some great tips (linked below):
Thanks for taking the time to read!