09th Mar 2020
With the possibility of a couple of weeks of isolation on the horizon for many, here are some tips to work from home effectively
Thirty-three people on the island of Ireland have been diagnosed with coronavirus so far, and in the coming weeks, that number looks set to increase. With many of the larger workplaces here in the Republic opting to close their offices, the possibility of an extended period of working from home seems more and more likely for many of us.
If you aren’t used to working from home, it can be a challenge to get used to. Working on your own time and initiative in your sitting room is very different to an office environment, and it can be hard to keep your motivation and focus up throughout the day. But it’s not impossible to get as much done at home as you would in work, and to stop yourself getting caught in a cycle of bad daytime TV in the process.
If the prospect of working from home is looking likely for you this week, take some of these tips on board before you get to work.
Don’t work from bed (or the couch, if you can help it)
It may be tempting to stay in bed all day on your laptop, but this isn’t a good idea, for a number of reasons. Lying on your back all day is not good for your body, and your posture and overall health will suffer for it. But beyond that, it’s important when working from home to establish a boundary between relaxing space and working space. Your bed and couch is a space for unwinding after a work day – coming into that space and trying to work means it’ll be hard to find motivation. You’ll find yourself either struggling to get anything done, or struggling to switch off when evening comes.
If you can, try to establish a dedicated workspace. Maybe you have a spare bedroom with a desk, or just sit at your kitchen table. It will help you to mentally prepare for work mode.
Again, staying in your pyjamas for the day sounds like a great plan, but when you’re doing this every day, it can have a negative effect on your mood. There’s no need to put on a suit and heels by any means, but simply changing out of your jammies and into ‘real clothes’ will help you to get into a work headspace, and make it feel as seamless as possible to work from home.
Try to get out of the house during your lunch break
Getting some fresh air into your lungs is so important, whether you’re in an office or at home. Take the opportunity to get out of the house on your lunch break (and yes, you should have a lunch break — don’t try to just work straight through) and take a walk. If you’re self-isolating, obviously don’t go to any public spaces or anywhere where you could come in contact with anybody — taking a walk around your garden or just taking a few minutes on your balcony is good too.
Don’t have the TV on
Background TV is a no-no. “Oh I work better with background noise!” I hear you say. No you don’t. You will get nothing done and will get distracted by crap daytime TV. Don’t fall into the habit — don’t have the TV on until work is finished.
Set boundaries with others
If your entire household is at home during the week, it’s hard for the lines not to be blurred. Let anyone else in the house know that you’re working and which hours you’ll be unavailable for, and tell them to leave you be. This is particularly important if you’re with your parents or friends this week — they can mean well by dropping in for the chats, and may think that ‘working from home’ means you’re flexible to hang out during the day. Let them know that it’s still a normal workday for you.
Be prepared for remote meetings
If your whole company is working from home, that means that essential meetings will probably still go ahead between you — either on the phone or on a service like Skype. Make sure before you settle in that you have everything you need to facilitate remote meetings — that your laptop has a working mic and camera, that your phone can facilitate conference calls, and that you look presentable enough for them. This is where we come back to no pyjamas during the day — no one wants to see your dressing gown and messy bun while discussing budgets.
Set your hours
It’s easy to fall into a trap of strange hours while working from home — you might sleep in and start late, or take a long break in the middle of the day, or work into the night. It’s great to be able to set a schedule that works for you, but make sure that it is that — a schedule. Set your hours every day and stick to them — don’t find yourself working 12 hour days because you didn’t set a clear timetable for yourself. If you’re unsure how to do this, the old 9-5 is a classic for a reason — start in the morning, take a lunchbreak and finish by 5pm, no exceptions.
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