Following the latest government advice, many of us will already or soon be working from home for the foreseeable future.
For those who aren’t used to working remotely, this can be a particularly disruptive experience and may require some time to adjust. Some people initially enjoy the idea of not having to leave the house in the morning, but may soon find the comforts of home distracting, leading to a loss of productivity.
Despite the initial teething issues, studies have found that over 77% of professionals say they feel more productive when working remotely, and an additional 30% feel as though they accomplish more in a shorter period of time.
So, what is the best advice for people working from home?
Create a work environment of your own
In order to get into a ‘work’ frame of mind when you’re at home, it’s important to have a space set aside which is designated for working. This helps to create a clear distinction between ‘work’ and ‘play’ and trains your brain to be more productive during work hours. Not only does this allow you to concentrate more on the task at hand, it also makes it easier to switch off at the end of the day.
If you don’t have a study you can use, the kitchen or dining room table is often a good place to set up. If you share the space with other people, make sure you communicate clearly to them that you are working and set clear boundaries around your work schedule.
Finally, avoid the temptation to work from your bedroom or the couch, as these can trigger the brain into thinking it is time to sleep or relax.
Avoid those distractions
In your own home it can be so easy to get distracted by your surroundings. This makes it difficult to switch off from household chores or slipping into weekend habits.
If you find yourself getting distracted on a regular basis, it can help to set yourself a clear list of deadlines and hold yourself to account for meeting them all. Avoid switching on the TV, and instead put on the radio or a calming playlist. This will provide some background noise for those who don’t enjoy the silence.
Combat the loneliness
If you’re the only person working from home, the long hours by yourself can often leave you feeling isolated and lonely. Whilst instant messaging apps mean you can communicate to your colleagues whenever, it’s never the same as having face-to-face interaction.
If you can, try using video calls with colleagues and clients wherever possible, as this provides a more social experience than sending emails or texts. This will play a key role in tackling feelings of isolation over the next few months as many people could be working from home for the foreseeable future.
But be aware that faulty technology can sometimes lead to lagging and frustrating meetings, so make sure you give yourself enough time to set up and get ready before the call.
Cultivate compassion for yourself and others around you
For those self-isolating or working at home with a partner, your family, or your housemate, it’s important to be mindful of your own needs and the needs of others. Spending long periods of time in a shared space can be tricky, but there are ways around this that will make it easier to maintain healthy relationships. Talk to each other, be open and honest, and make a plan together that takes into account everyone’s needs. You're less likely to experience feelings of resentment if you’re communicating clearly.
By talking to one another and addressing any issues as they happen, you can express how you feel and talk about the challenges you may be facing. If you need more space to work or think, explain why this is important to you, and work on a solution together. It might help to start by telling them how much they mean to you and reminding them that you care.
It can be difficult to maintain a work-life blend when the lines between work and home are blurred into one.
Make sure you stick to your working hours and try not to let work infiltrate your evenings or weekends. It might sound silly but having a good morning routine and wearing ‘work’ clothes, or just not your pyjamas, can help to create a professional mind-set. Ultimately, you need to find a way of working that serves you and results in the least amount of disruption. Be kind to yourself while you find a new rhythm and allow yourself enough time to adjust.
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