As the Covid-19 pandemic has germinated across the planet, it has already provoked some enormous changes in the way we live our lives. For many — putting aside the threat of the illness itself — the most immediately disruptive is the closure of all workplaces deemed essential. For the first time, working from home has become the norm.
Once you’ve got over the novelty of having untrammelled access to your kitchen, adapting to home working can be difficult. Here are our top five tips for an optimal working experience over the course of the pandemic shutdown.
1. Find a Routine
The first hurdle to clear for anyone working from home is the sudden loss of a spatially-defined schedule. Commuting can be stressful, but it does inculcate a psychological shift from domestic to working life. With this transition gone, it’s important to mentally switch on. Get up at your normal time, wash and dress in clothes that you would wear outside the house. Start — and finish — working as you would normally.
2. Establish your Workspace
Everyone’s home is different, and some are inevitably better set-up for home-working than others. If you don’t possess a home office, it’s important to select the parts of the house in which you feel most comfortable working. Some will find that they get things done efficiently while lying in bed, while others will need a high-backed chair. If you work out several potential places, cycle round. And if you cohabit with others, decide on a clear demarcation of space so you do not impose each other’s workload.
3. Keep in Communication
For those used to constantly collaborating with others, working at home alone can feel a dramatic shift. You can suddenly find yourself without easy access to the opinions of others, significantly slowing your workflow — especially if you end up relying on email. So, be sure keep in regular contact with everyone you would usually work with, though phonically, chat apps like Slack or Teamwork and video clients like Zoom and Skype. Ten minutes spent talking at the start of the day can save hours later on.
4. Beware the Internet
If you’re working at home on a personal computer without others to keep check in on you, it can be very easy to slide headfirst into the many temptations of the Internet: whether constant news updates, online shopping, research black-holes or aimless browsing. To keep focused, only open browser windows when you need them for your work. When you need to get a task done efficiently, disable non-work chat services such as WhatsApp. And if self-control fails, there is always Self Control, the app that allows you to block your own access to various websites for a pre-set time period.
5. Remember the Opportunities
Although it’s essential to differentiate your time working from home from leisure time, it is true that working from home presents many opportunities that being in an office doesn’t. Whether that’s going for a run in the spring sun during a quiet mid-morning hour, bolstering your baking abilities or spending break times with your family, working from home does give you freedoms unavailable to many who work in offices. And with key workers from NHS staff to supermarket employees risking their lives to mitigate the crisis, always remember that being able to work from the comfort of your own home is a privilege.
As many start to work from home, OnOffice offers its tips for a pleasant transition