The coronavirus pandemic is acting as a catalyst for businesses across the country to test their staff, their IT and their flexible working policies. With the movement to homeworking, it is realistic to assume that it will become the new normal for many of us for a while and potentially change our working practices in the future.
For many working from home, it is a new experience and one that some may struggle with. There is much evidence to support homeworking brings positive benefits, including improved work-life balance and increases job satisfaction and productivity. However, all this evidence is based on studies of individuals who have made the choice to work at home. This decision is made in collaboration with their employer and appropriate arrangements are in place to ensure it is effective for both parties.
Coronavirus has changed all that, with many thousands of individuals now forced to work from home, with little time to consider any adjustments that might be necessary to make this work.
Here are our 5 top tips to help ensure that morale, wellbeing and efficiency is maintained whilst staff are having to work remotely.
Get up, get showered and dressed, possibly in your working clothes (!), in time for your normal start time. This will psychologically prepare you to start work and get off to a positive mental start for the day. Changing out of your work clothes when you clock off for the day helps your brain to understand that the working day is over.
Structure helps to create boundaries around work, home and play, which helps boosts productivity. Many remote workers suddenly feel even more pressure to always be available, which can quickly lead to burnout.
Find a quiet suitable, and private space in your home to set up your laptop. Avoid the potential of your entire home becoming your office space, making it more difficult to differentiate work from home-life and to switch off once the working day is over. At the end of the workday, pack everything away and separate work from the rest of the household duties so that you feel that you can switch off, which can be more difficult when the lines between home and work become blurred.
Working from home shouldn’t mean having to stay cooped up indoors all day. So, as long as you are not self-isolating, get outside in the fresh air (within Government restrictions). Have a wander around the garden, listen to the birds. Sit on your balcony with a cuppa. Take a walk around the block. Being outdoors can also bring a fresh perspective, helping undo mental blocks and enabling you to come back to a task you were struggling with refreshed and re-focused.
The sudden removal of individuals from their work-based (and indeed other) social circles could have a significantly negative effect on the welfare of some. It’s important that homeworkers make some time to pick up the phone and have a real conversation with colleagues, rather than relying on email and instant messaging. Having conversations are stimulating and makes homeworkers feel less isolated giving you a chance for a bit of social interaction.
It’s good to have a routine when working from home, but work shouldn’t become monotonous and it’s not good for you to stay glued to your screen all day. Take regular screen breaks and move around just as you would in an office. Get up, have a stretch and treat yourself to a cuppa.