Tips to help you adapt to working from home

26 October 2020

Due to social distancing and other measures that have been introduced to try to stop the spread of coronavirus, you and your team may be working from home again. While this may be nothing new for the seasoned remote workers or for those who worked from home at the outset of the crisis, it can still take some getting used to.

Here, we share our tips for how to adapt, or readapt, to working from home for both you and your team.

Routine

Getting into a good routine is vital when it comes to effective home working. When you’re used to going into the office, it becomes such an ingrained part of your routine that it can feel strange to get used to a new version of your working day.

Ensuring that you stick to a routine can make the transition from office to home working easier. Make sure that you’re setting an alarm each morning to avoid accidentally oversleeping. You could even keep your normal morning alarm set and use the time that you’d usually spend commuting to work to take part in an online exercise class or reading a couple of chapters of your book before your working day starts.

You could also use the flexibility that can come with home working to establish a working schedule that’s tailored to your own productivity levels. If you’re an early bird, you might find that waking up early means that you can spend a few hours in the morning on work projects before your colleagues log on and the emails start arriving. This can then free up some personal time in the afternoon where you may find that you are generally less productive when it comes to your work.

Set up your work station

When it comes to working from home, it’s important to set up your work station correctly to ensure that you’re able to work comfortably, whether you’re using your spare room as an office or you’re working from the kitchen table. 

Anna Fountain, Junior Physiologist at AXA Health, shares her tips on how to set up your work station correctly at home:

  • Separate work life and home life – When you’re working from home, it’s important to keep your working life and your home life separate to maintain a good work life balance. You should therefore try to have a designated room or space to work from that’s separate from where you spend the majority of your leisure time. Try to find a quiet area/room where possible to help minimise noise and distractions.
  • Natural light – The lighting in your home office set up is so important. Poor lighting can result in eye strain, low energy levels and low mood which could end up having a negative impact on your productivity and your overall wellbeing. To help combat this, ensure that your home office is well lit, and ideally sit near a window if possible. Working in an area with plenty of natural light can help decrease stress, improve sleep and boost your mood and productivity.
  • Desk set up – When you’re working from home, you may not have access to the equipment that you’re used to when working in the office, such as an ergonomic chair and an adjustable desk. However, as an alternative, if you’re working at the kitchen or dining room table, you could look at using chair supports to help reduce the risk of back pain. If you’re using a laptop, you should ensure that the top of the screen is in line with your eyebrow in order to avoid slouching. If you don’t have access to a laptop stand, you could place your laptop on top of a pile of books so it’s at the correct height. You should also use a wireless keyboard, if you have access to one, in order to help prevent wrist strain.
  • Stay organised – An untidy desk can have a negative impact on your productivity, so try to make sure that you’re regularly tidying and organising your work space. Ensure that the items that you use daily are in reach, and store everything else that you use less frequently in your desk drawers or in a filing cabinet if you have one.

Work life balance

When you’re spending so much of your time at home for both your working time and your leisure time, it can be easy to let the two spill over into each other. When there’s no commute home to contend with, it can be tempting to finish off that PowerPoint presentation, for example, long after the working day was due to end. However, it’s important to maintain a positive work life balance while you’re working from home.

Try to keep a clear divide between when your working day ends and your leisure time begins. You could do this by calling a friend or a family member to have a catch up, or by reading a couple of chapters of that book that you’ve been meaning to finish. Incorporate this into your daily routine to allow yourself the opportunity to start to switch off from work and relax into your leisure time. 

When you’re working from home, it can be easy to forget to have regular breaks throughout the day. However, breaks are still just as important when you’re home working as when you’re working in the office. If you find yourself forgetting to take a break, you could set alarms throughout the day to remind yourself to get up and move around. This could help you to retain your focus and concentration levels throughout the day.

Communicate

When you’re not seeing your colleagues every day, you may find that the regular interaction that comes with working in the office can start to drop off. It’s therefore important to maintain consistent levels of communication with your team. There are a number of video conferencing services that can help maintain a certain level of face to face interaction between your team, even when you’re not seeing each other in person.

You should also encourage your managers to regularly check in with their teams via video or conference calls. This can help to give your team a chance to talk through any questions or concerns that they may have with their line manager so they can then provide them with support where needed.

As well as scheduling in video calls to run through work projects, you could also use them for company update meetings and social events. A virtual team quiz on a Friday afternoon could be a great way to boost morale and catch up with the team ahead of the weekend.

While working from home can take some getting used to, particularly if you’re used to working in a busy environment, ensuring that you maintain a routine, prioritise a positive work life balance and maintain good levels of communication can help to make the transition easier for you and your team.

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