Coronavirus: Tips for home working

With the Government recommending those that can, to work from home, an increasing number of businesses are shutting their doors to keep staff as safe as possible. However, it is important to note that for some people it’s not the perfect set up.

For some, working from home can put their mental health at risk, causing feelings of isolation and disconnection. The feedback and encouragement they receive from their fellow workers in the office can be critical to their productivity.

Your work setting

Whether you are working in the morning or evenings, it’s essential to have the right lighting to help you concentrate. If you can, set up your workspace near a window so you can benefit from some natural light. If this isn’t possible, ensure you have a decent lamp which provides enough light so you do not strain your eyes but isn’t so bright that it gives you a headache.

A lot of people prefer to have a desk set-up but this isn’t for everyone. It is possible to be as productive from your dining table, sofa or even outside if the weather allows. You can also create a space suited for you – whether that is a potted plant, a motivational painting or even cuddling up with your cat or dog!

Maintaining a routine

It is easy to fall out of a routine when working from home as you can feel as though you’ve lost the structure from your day.

Whether you are working from nine to five, five to midnight, or splitting out your working day into chunks, you must set your work hours to give you a routine to follow. 

To start, ensure you have a ‘going to the office’ mindset every morning, afternoon or evening before you begin working. Even something as simple as getting dressed (as tempting as it is to stay in pyjamas all day) can prepare you psychologically to start work.

Building in regular breaks during your working hours is also important. Whether that is just to get up to have a stretch, make a cup of tea or getting some fresh air in the garden, you need to keep your body agile in order to keep your mind fresh. Remember to eat regularly which keeps your energy levels up and breaks up the monotony of work.

Frequent distractions at home can easily disrupt a routine. Make sure anyone you live with knows your working pattern so that know not to disturb you during these times.

Make sure you are getting enough rest and sleep to keep you functioning. Going to bed at a sensible and regular time will help you keep to your schedule.

Staying in touch

It’s important to keep in contact with colleagues and others that you usually work closely with. Not only to keep up to date with everything work-related but also to check with their emotional and mental well being. Rather than relying on email and instant messaging, pick up the phone to have a real conversation. Calling people can be more stimulating and uplifting than a string of emails.

You can also utilise modern technology and cloud tools to help everyone keep in the loop. Video conferencing software such as Zoom or Skype are great alternatives to face to face meetings. Microsoft Teams can also be useful for sharing files and ideas amongst teammates.

Work-life balance

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tricky when working from home and it can be difficult to ‘switch off’. Make sure you are strict with the routine you have set yourself by turning off your computer/laptop and work phone as well as tidying away anything work-related at your specified finish time. This is particularly important if you are using your dining or living area as your workspace.

Above all, ensure you build in time during your day for the important things:

  • Spending quality time with family, even just by watching a movie or playing games
  • Keeping in regular contact with friends and loved ones, particularly if they are on their own
  • Exercising, by going out for a walk or following a workout video if you are unable to leave the house

Working from home can seem daunting if it’s not something you’ve done before but these tips should help you to adapt to a different way of working. But it can take time to adjust, so be patient with yourself and your colleagues.

Further advice or support for businesses and individuals during this uncertain time can be found on our Coronavirus Hub.