Everyone wants to work from home, right? Not quite…
While negotiating the lengthy morning commute, the dishwater coffee, the communal toilets and the office politics may be a thing of the past (at least temporarily), for those of us working from home we are faced with new challenges.
Loneliness, stress and anxiety are commonly felt by at-home workers, especially those who are unknowingly thrust into having to work remotely and in isolation due to extreme circumstances such as the current Covid-19 outbreak.
Being equipped with adequate technology and the tools to do your job, having access to colleagues and open communication channels, and receiving clear direction from management are fundamental to easing the pressure felt by remote workers. (If you’re a business owner, click here to read our previous blog for tips on facilitating at-home working). But there are also key strategies those working from home can adopt to manage their productivity and maintain their wellbeing.
Create a work space
It is essential to distinguish work from the home. Create a dedicated space where you do your work and that you can move away from during breaks and at the end of the day.
If you do not have a separate home office or desk space, a kitchen table or breakfast bar work just as well for setting up a mobile office space. Plus, the process of setting up this space in the morning and packing it down again in the evening allows you to mentally prepare for and then remove yourself from work.
Maintain a routine
At-home workers are more likely to over work than under work. That’s right, the assumption that remote workers prioritise home life (notably, the washing) over work is a myth.
Without the daily commute and the distraction of colleagues, meetings and making the tea round, remote workers tend to work longer hour days and for longer periods without a break. It is therefore essential to establish a routine.
Get up and ready for work as you would normally. I schedule my first call of the day while walking to ensure I exercise in the fresh air and to mimic a daily commute; you do not need to feel chained to your workspace.
Take regular breaks and schedule in a lunch break. Eat well and use your breaks to do whatever you wish; go for a lunchtime run, walk the dog, get a head start on household chores (including the washing), FaceTime a friend, watch an episode of your favourite Netflix series (just one mind!). Then finish work at the usual time. Turn off your phone and your laptop, and be ready to go again tomorrow.
Be clear on your outputs
Self-motivation and maintaining momentum can be challenging, especially in such a drastically altered environment. Agree with your manager at the beginning of each week what output you are expected to deliver.
Setting goals and meeting objectives is not only important for maintaining focus but also for ensuring a sense of achievement and recognition; you may not have a presence in the office but you are still a valued member of the business.
If you’re unsure about what is expected of you, ask. Similarly, if you do not have the tools to do your job, ask. It is important to keep the lines of communication open with your manager and your team so you continue to work collaboratively and towards a common goal.
As well as working together, you can also still socialise with colleagues while at home. Contact with colleagues provides an important lifeline to combat isolation. Whether bouncing ideas off one another, venting frustrations, sharing pet pics or arranging virtual lunch breaks or Friday night drinks, all can be at your fingertips thanks to the wonders of technology.
Do you have an idea for the company that you haven’t had the time or headspace to develop? Have you wanted to learn a new skill or upskill? Is there a system that you’d like to upgrade or find a more effective solution for, such as a new CMS? Have you been desperate to get your hands on reordering the file archive or photo library? Does the website content need updating?
Now is the time to pitch these pursuits to your manager. Being proactive will benefit both you and the business now and in the future.
If you’re concerned about working from home or managing your team remotely, talk to us at Tell Jane for practical tips and advice. Email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can jump on a video call.
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