As you may or may not be aware I have been working from home for over 4 years. When Covid-19 hit and self-isolation was ordered it was, in some ways, business as usual for me. In fact 93% of my company were working from home with 3 days of the announcement.
Don’t get me wrong things are different. There are no trips to my office booked. No meetings in the calendar. Or quick trips to the shops to break up the day. There is less to talk about on calls – no ‘what are your weekend plans?’ or ‘what did you get up to?’ I mean don’t get me wrong there are still things going on but we are two weeks into isolation and things are starting to get a little quiet.
Work however is busier than ever.
It’s the little things that I find help when working from home. Now I don’t want to overload you with advice as I’m sure anyone new to working from home will have had plenty of it recently. However here are my suggestions for for making things a little easier.
- Have a number of spaces available to work from. A desk with a window might be the ideal but for me I enjoy taking calls standing up and walking around (if notes aren’t required). In warmer weather I’ll be strolling the garden or standing in our kitchen that gets the sun – once Annabelle is down for a nap. With Laura working from home I also have access to a stand-up desk (we brought the desk home that we had got her for work). We alternate throughout the day. There is nothing worse than sitting at your desk all day!
- Listen to radio / music. We have an Alexa and I love the playlist ‘feel good music’. It’s a mix of upbeat pop and chart songs and it never fails to put me in a good mood. I can’t listen to music all that much due to being on calls so I always put it on during lunch. Music is such a mood enhancer for me.
- Book a lunch break in your calendar. This is a must in my world otherwise all day would pass without me taking a proper break. It also serves to give your day structure – something that is super important- and breaks up monotonous tasks. In our world it’s a give opportunity to give Bisbee a fuss and check our phones. I learnt early on to be disciplined with not checking my phone every 5 minutes – it’s a time drain!
- Give your ears a break. Sometimes working from home can go from one extreme to the other. Non-stop calls leaving you feeling talked out. Or endless silence and not hearing from anyone. Nether is ideal. The first can be draining and, in my experience quite painful. My work allocated headset is a sturdy, professional thing that makes me look like I can fly planes. It is super comfortable until it’s not. After a while the soft ear muffs start to cause itching and sweating (lovely) and the weight makes my head and neck ache. I found using wireless earbuds made a lot of difference and whenever I am in for a long call I always have then ready.
- Take time to check in on colleagues. Covid-19 has been a wake-up call to how important relationships are and how you really need to invest time into them. I took casual conversations for granted. I took catch up’s at the desk as a given. Now my team are all working from home I ensure that across the week I have time booked in with them all for a catch. Totally non work related. I also book an extra 15 minutes into calls if I haven’t spoken to someone just so we can chat. The power of technology is crazy but you have to remember to use it!
- Presentable from the waist up. Not a suggestion, more of a lifestyle choice. While I avoid the couch during my work day I do not avoid sweats. They are my work attire. There is no point sitting uncomfortably or wasting a pair of nice jeans if no-one ever sees them. I agree with the advice to get up and get dressed BUT comfortable is my main requirement.
- Don’t forget to drink water. I am terrible at this. I find the best way is to have a big bottle with me to reduce my excuses. Initially I was like ‘oh going to get water will be a good break’, then I’d wander to the kitchen and find a snack – not ideal when trying to avoid the Covid-19 weight gain! So now I make sure I have fresh water available and to hand.
- Have fresh air breaks. I let Bisbee out every few hours and when I do (if it’s not raining) I step out too. The power of fresh air is amazing. I find it really de-stresses me . I always made sure to do it when I went to the office but at home I find it essential.
- Switch off. If any of my team email out of hours I am not impressed unless it is necessary. For a start I won’t be checking it until work hours the next day. It’s more important than that though. Just because you are confined to our houses shouldn’t mean we should work longer hours. We should be taking advantage of the lack of commute. Not having a break will only lead to burn out. It’s no good for anyone. Work hours are for working and outside that time you should be connecting with loved ones, friends and yourself.
- Don’t feel bad. When I first worked at home I had a guilt complex about it. I worked extra hours to prove I was working. I would send late emails and early messages to evidence my dedication. The longer I have worked from home the less I do it. If anything I work harder at home and have no reason to feel guilty about it. I think Covid-19 might change people’s minds on the fact that working from home is working. There are different distractions but there is rarely someone walking by saying ‘got 5 mins’, or ‘fancy a tea’ and suddenly my day would disappear in ‘quick catch ups’. At home I focus more. More time is spent working. I am less exhausted from a commute. Less desperate to race out the door to grab every second with Annabelle (I mean I still race down the stairs but if I finish 15 minutes late it’s not like missing a train and missing bedtime).
If you are new to working from home and have any questions/ want advice let me know. I hope you learn to love it. I know I have.
For those of you interested in actual work from home here’s some tips: https://www.theaccessgroup.com/blog/dlc-guide-to-remote-working/