Millions of employees working from home for the first time as a result of the Government’s coronavirus guidelines may be experiencing something of a culture shock, but there are some basic steps they can take to make the most of the situation.
The mental association that you form between work and an office can help to make you more productive. So, the first step is to unclutter a designated office space which provides as much privacy as possible, and to ensure that its purpose is respected by family members and housemates.
It may not always be possible to stop the pet cat or dog from making uninvited appearances but it is crucial that other people at home don’t, and that everyone helps to keep children well away.
Don’t hesitate to ask your employer for anything you need whilst in your home office, just as you would when working at its own premises.
Try also to start your day as though you were going on your commute by setting the alarm, showering and wearing appropriate clothes. You probably won’t need a suit but pyjamas are certainly to be avoided, as self-image is important.
Don’t start work immediately you’ve had breakfast but take some time out to have a brief walk or jog (keeping a suitable distance from any passers-by) and to prepare the meals you are going to eat during the day – avoiding sugary snacks and processed food as far as possible.
Furthermore, once you do start work, make sure you have plenty of breaks entered into your calendar to enable you to recharge.
But try to avoid personal emails and phone calls whilst actually working and remove social networks from your toolbar bookmarks to banish temptation.
You should soon get a feel for how your concentration levels ebb and flow, so try to capitalise on times when your momentum is near its peak. For example, if you find that you work best before lunch, this is probably when to tackle the hardest tasks, leaving more routine matters and phone calls and video-link meetings until the afternoon.
Create a daily work schedule in advance that involves regular hours and set an alarm to remind you when it’s time to start wrapping up at the end of the day. Once you’ve left your workspace don’t return to it until the next morning.
But, whilst routine is important, never lose sight of opportunities to see what you can do differently at your job and look out for suggestions you can make to your employer to help with the transition to these new circumstances. After all, many firms have been forced to enter virgin territory, and best practice is likely to have to evolve over time.
Crucially, it is important that you always try and remain as positive as possible.
Realise also that the apps and other ingenious tools that can connect you remotely with team members are now more plentiful than at any time in the past.
One way of helping to remain positive is to listen to music, perhaps selecting playlists that match the energy of the projects you are working on. Video game soundtracks can be especially useful because they are lyric free and designed to help people focus.
Also consider singing to boost your morale, even if you fear it’s not your forte and have never done it before. Hearing your own voice can play an important part in maintaining your sense of identity.
Should you form the impression that homeworking isn’t your bag, remember that we are in unprecedented times.
We are all grappling with a problem that affects virtually everyone in the world and each one of us must play our part. By playing your’s you can increase the speed with which you return to that office you are missing.
Content correct at time of writing and is intended for general information only and should not be construed as advice.