Working from home has become a new normal for many people at various points over the last year due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, so what are the secrets behind making working from home a success during lockdown?
In an ideal world, working from home gives you greater flexibility, but there can be increased pressure when it comes to personal responsibilities; children who need your attention, working late and skipping lunch. Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub and Cumbernauld Family Hub have some tips to help you achieve an optimum balance while at home.
Maintaining a healthy equilibrium between work and family is important, not just for your physical and mental health, but for those around you too. Your professional life and personal life are both important and neither one should be neglected. It’s all about finding the perfect balance between the two, that’s a work-life balance.
When someone has a good work-life balance, they’re able to allocate their time so they don’t overwork and can focus on other aspects of their life like family, friends, hobbies or social activities. You may also notice that finding the right work-life balance will help you feel more relaxed when you finish work and that work becomes more enjoyable.
Whether you’re new to working from home or you’re a remote work-pro, the below tips will help you stay productive at work, while still leaving time each day for your friends, family, and personal interests.
TIPS TO GET THE MOST OUT OF WORKING FROM HOME DURING LOCKDOWN
1. Stick to Healthy Schedule and Work Routine
When you have the flexibility to work from anywhere, it can sometimes feel like you need to be available and online anytime, too. And if you’re working on a different schedule than the rest of your team, this flexibility can sometimes lend itself to a lack of work-life balance.
If you’re working remotely, try setting a schedule and sticking to it. This will be helpful for your team and for your sense of work-life balance. That way, your team will know exactly when they can and cannot reach you, and you’ll be able to plan personal activities during your day outside of work, wake up and go to bed at the same time every day, and work a manageable number of hours.
If things come up on a regular basis that require you to log on early or stay online later than those hours, that could be a good nudge for you to change your working hours to be available during that time while still being mindful of using your personal time to recharge.
2. Communicate Your Online and Offline Hours
Once you’ve determined a daily schedule that makes sense for you, use different tools to publicise that schedule so your team members in different locations are mindful and respectful of that time.
You can set your availability so you don’t receive notifications before or after a certain time of day, and you can indicate your working hours on a shared calendar so you automatically decline events taking place outside of your daily schedule. And by publicising your hours, your colleagues will be more mindful of your personal time, and might send you an email or schedule a meeting with you instead of sending you a barrage of messages early in the morning or in the middle of the night where you’re working.
3. Curtail the Monotony with Scheduled Breaks
One of the perks of being able to work remotely is greater productivity. Without commuting, walking around the office or office chatter, you can spend more time getting work done. That said, the monotony and solitude of remote work can sometimes get lonely, and make you feel like you don’t have a minute to yourself when you’re working.
Instead, you can use personal tasks to break up your day when you need to take a couple of minutes away from your desk or computer. That way, you’ll be able to take breaks from work that are still productive and help you get personal tasks done so you can spend your time offline exercising, cooking, or relaxing, instead of rushing around to run errands the way you’d have to if you worked in an office.
4. Switch Off from Work at the End of the Day
If your living space and your workspace are the same place, it can feel hard to truly step away from work at the end of the day, even if you’ve closed your laptop and signed off. Sometimes it can feel like there isn’t a reason to log off at a certain time if you’re already working from the home office.
To that end, if you’re a remote worker seeking a little more work-life balance, make plans for your after-work hours, and stick to them.
5. Prepare for the Working Day as You Would If Going to the Office
When you work from home, you don’t have to rush around in the morning the same way you do when you go to work in the office. But instead of dedicating the time you normally spend commuting to an extra half hour of snoozing your alarm, get ready for the day the way you normally do. Take a shower, make coffee and breakfast and get dressed.
That way, you’ll wake yourself up and mentally prepare for being productive and working hard even though you aren’t at your usual desk, and you’ll be less tempted to take it easy by hanging out on the couch or feeling sleepy halfway through the day.
6. Work in a Suitable Place Where Distractions Can Be Avoided
Along the lines of preparing yourself for a productive day of work from home, you can set yourself up for a productive day if you choose the right workspace.
Working from home can be a lot more distracting than working from the office. For one thing, you’re alone, without any co-workers nearby to motivate you to stay productive and busy. For another, your home offers more things to do than the office. If you work from your couch where you normally binge-watch your favourite true-crime series, you might get distracted halfway through the day. If you work from your dining room table that’s covered in laundry that needs to be put away, you might do that instead of working.
Instead, work from a neat and clutter-free space in your home that’s specifically dedicated to work. Maybe that’s your home office, a desk, or a spare room. Choose a spot where you’re able to work productively, and keep that space distinct from other parts of your home so you can unplug from work when you’re done.
7. Use Technology to Enable Effective Home Working
Don’t use working from home as an excuse to be less productive. You might be tempted to move meetings so you’re able to hold them at a later date. Instead, use video conferencing tools to hold live meetings from home so you’re able to keep up with your workload even if you take advantage of working from home.
8. Schedule a Proper Lunch Break
When you first start working from home, you may be tempted to take full advantage of working steps away from the fridge and graze on snacks. Delicious as this may be, it’s not always great for your productivity or your sense of work-life balance.
In an office, you might feel more compelled to take a proper lunch break in the middle of the day for 30 minutes or an hour, but when you work from home, there are no colleagues or cafeterias to remind you to do so. By setting aside lunchtime for yourself, you’ll be able to take a proper break from work to nourish yourself and recharge for the rest of the afternoon.
9. Ensure a Walk and Some Fresh Air Where Possible
Get up and head outside, within social distancing guidelines, even if it’s just for five minutes. You can stand up, stretch, and get some exercise for the day. Walk your dog, take a stroll around the block, or visit your favourite park during your lunch break. No matter which you choose you’ll be energised and ready to tackle the rest of your to-do list when you return to your desk.
10. Balance Work with Childcare and Home-Schooling
Not only is it difficult to juggle working remotely, but adding home-schooling makes it even more difficult. Added to this is that a child’s attention span is around two to three minutes per year of their age, so it is important to keep your children engaged.
Though it may seem daunting, concentrate on the basics if you are feeling overwhelmed. Talk to your children’s teachers about what is achievable and your employer about what you can and cannot get done. Also remember to praise and reassure your children if they are at home with you during the day. A positive environment makes for a happy and motivated one.
For more about how Cornerstone House Centre is supporting local people and families during the coronavirus pandemic, telephone Cumbernauld CHaT (Community Help and Talk) Service on 07940 569527 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.