Make Working From Home Work For You

Lockdown Health

Make Working From Home Work For You

Many of us have been thrust into a new, strange and unfamiliar world of working from home over the last couple of months. Although we cannot be sure how long some of us will be required to continue with our new working environments, it is more important than ever that we are able to take the positives (of which there are many) and use them to improve working efficiency, work/life balance and physical and mental wellbeing- Despite the perceived distractions!

Read on for some useful ideas for getting the most out of working from home by looking at the benefits and avoiding the disadvantages!

Go to work as ‘normal’…

Having a routine for your working day is a very effective way of maintaining some normality. Your routine will be personal and one that works best for you. However, it can be beneficial to create a divide between your home and your ‘work’. For example, getting out of bed at 8:50am and logging on at 9:00am with your dressing gown on and eyes still blurry probably isn’t going to give you the best of mind-sets going into your working day- continue to follow the dress code and make the time to get dressed and ready for work as normal. Continue to commute to and from your home office… This may sound ridiculous but hear me out! The commute to and from work can be a very important tool for managing your work/life balance because it gives you a chance to gather your thoughts and clear your mind. It gives you time to get your ‘work head’ on at the beginning of the day and to shake off any stress at the end of the day. When you are ready to go and start your day, leave the house and go for a little walk- This will simulate leaving your home and the return is the simulation of entering the office. This creates an important boundary and will create a great mind-set right from the off! - Don’t forget that this method works both ways and it is also important to leave the ‘office’ and return home at the end of the day!

Create an adaptable work space…

Only 5% of the UK were working from home prior to Covid-19. With the amount of us now working from home rising so rapidly, it is important to note that we are not all fortunate enough to have a designated space or room for an ‘office’ or workspace in our homes. If it is possible to do so, setting out a space that you can use as an office each day can help you to be more productive during work hours but is also a very effective way of keeping your mind healthy. If you are using a communal space in the home then it is good practice to ensure that you maintain adaptability in that space. For example, if you are using a dining table as your desk then ensure you clear the table and set up your desk in a tidy, uncluttered and organised way. Make sure that you have a good source of light, either from a window if possible, or a bright table lamp- or both! If you can, then try facing a window so that when you lift your eyes from your screen, you have a view of the outdoors, this will not only help to remind you to rest your eyes from your screen but can be relaxing and reduce stress levels. Being able to clear your workspace at the end of the day and return the space into its usual living purpose is also important, it might be useful to use a large box or crate that you can put your laptop, note pads, pens etc. into and hide it in a separate room or even underneath the table until the next day. If you are lucky enough to have a separate room or space to work from then try not to enter that room or space after the working day is done - Remember, you wouldn’t clear your desk in the office and take it home each evening or keep returning to the office after ‘clocking out’… working from home shouldn’t be any different!

Take regular breaks…

It can be very easy when working from home to get into the ‘zone’- especially when you are lucky enough to not have many distractions! 30 minutes can turn into 1 hour and then 2 hours… before you know it, its 5pm and you realise you’ve not lifted your head all afternoon! You know this isn’t good for your health but you excuse it because you think you’ve been productive. However, research has shown that taking regular breaks throughout the day will help your productivity levels by keeping you more alert, less tired and increasing your attention levels. Not only will this help you work faster but it will also improve the quality of work you produce. It has also been found that taking shorter breaks more regularly is more beneficial than less regular but longer breaks. Every 30 minutes, try and get up from your desk to have a stretch, walk around the room and give your eyes a 5 minute rest from the screen! Not only are breaks important for your productivity and mental state but they are also important for looking after your physical health- So keep on moving!

Don’t be too hard on yourself…

How many times do you take a couple of minutes to lift your head away from your screen to ask your colleague if they saw who ‘coupled’ with who on that popular reality show or who scored that goal in the football last night? It is easy to forget that an outside world exists when working from home and you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself for having conversations unrelated to work, either on the phone to colleagues or with the people that you live with. Having a real conversation with somebody rather than using emails or instant messaging can be a lot more stimulating and will not only boost your productivity levels but also look after your mental health.