Work from home Do’s and Don’ts
With coronavirus impacting every part of our lives, a lot of us are doing our part in social distancing initiatives. For many of us, that means working from home (WFH). WFH has its own set of perks and challenges. I would know, I’ve been WFH for nearly a year! With so many people trying to figure out what works best for them in their new home office, I wanted to share some do’s and don’ts to help make the transition easy and enjoyable.
Whether you’re working at home to cut down on your commuting time (and vehicle emissions), create more capacity to care for friends or relatives, or because of social distancing restrictions related to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19), it’s an indisputable fact that a greater proportion of the workforce is working from home than ever.
Working remotely brings with it several perks – an uplift in productivity is one of the most often-cited benefits – but loneliness and communication difficulties are real risks.
To make working from home a success, you’ll need some basic guidelines and principles. Here is our key do’s and don’ts for successful remote working.
1. DO designate a separate workspace
Working from home might sound like an opportunity to cozy up on the sofa with your laptop or a Netflix series, but in reality, spending your entire day in the same spot is terrible for your physical or mental health.
Your living room is designed to be a space where you can switch off and relax. Using it as a workspace jeopardizes your ability to focus during the day and makes it harder to wind down when it’s over.
If you don’t have the luxury of a proper home office space, your kitchen or dining room table is the next best thing to secure your concentration and improve your posture.
2. DO avoid online distractions
It’s the rookie mistake that every work-from-home novice has made – promising yourself you’ll answer just one text message, only to realize what feels like a little while later that you’ve squandered nearly an hour scrolling through Facebook. If online distractions are compromising your productivity, there are a few quick fixes that will help steer your focus in the right direction.
Firstly, leave any unnecessary devices out of reach. If possible, your phone should be kept in another room to prevent you from getting distracted by the faint buzz of a notification. If sitting at your computer all day makes it difficult to resist the pull of distractions like social media or online shopping, invest in a web-blocking app like Cold Turkey or Freedom. These apps can block as many time-sapping sites as you need and even keep you offline completely. Cold Turkey can even place a complete lock on your computer, protecting not only your work time but your free time too.
3. DON’T snack all-day
Working only a few paces away from the refrigerator and away from the judgemental eyes of colleagues may increase the temptation to nibble tenfold, especially if your kitchen cupboards are full of sweet treats and salty snacks.
But bear in mind that over-indulging on these foods is not just bad for your health in the long run – the temporary energy spike they provide will lead to a sugar crash that will only halt your productivity.
If you really cannot resist the urge to snack during the day, plan. Swap out crisps and chocolate for healthier choices like fresh fruit – ultimately, they are better for your body and will help to sustain your energy levels in the short term too.
4. DO take a break
Research has found that short breaks throughout the day are much more beneficial than less frequent, longer breaks. It’s important to set regular breaks during the day and use them for more than scrolling through social media. Rather than simply passing the time until you can log off, breaks should re-energize you in preparation for the tasks ahead.
You should also ensure that you’re taking breaks at the end of the day too, logging off when your workday is finished and using your evening to rest.
5. DO move around
Sitting in the same position all day can cause a whole host of health problems, ranging from back, neck, and shoulder pain, poor circulation, and even reduced brain function.
Remember that the Health and Safety Executive recommends that workers whose jobs rely on computers should take a five-minute screen-free break at least once per hour – using these as a chance to briefly stand up and stretch will benefit your mind and body.
6. DON’T feel bound to the 9-5
While it’s important to maintain boundaries between your work and home life, the secret to remote working success lies in utilizing its flexibility.
Rather than forcing yourself through the hours until 5 o’clock, co-operate with the natural ebb and flow of your concentration, taking breaks as needed and making the most of those bursts of inspiration.
This method is particularly convenient for those juggling childcare responsibilities in addition to the other challenges of working from home.
7. Do – Stay connected
Maintaining communication with your colleagues is extremely important when working from home. Whether it’s via email, a live messenger like Slack, phone calls, video calls, or virtual meetings, communication is essential to productivity. A little light conversation during the day shouldn’t be an opportunity to get too distracted, but sending your workmate a funny post you’ve seen online or a picture of your dog can be the morale boost that gets you and them through the day.
Technology is key to keeping in touch while working remotely, so it’s recommended that managers schedule regular team catch-ups, meetings, and client catch-ups.
8. DO – Structure your day as you would in the office
At home, you have to self-motivate and act as your manager. To stay on track, make yourself a schedule of what you will do and when. Plan out what you will do in advance and then set reminders or create events in your online calendar. Your agenda should include a set lunch break as well as start and end times for your workday. The structure will help keep you focused and productive.
9. DO – Buy yourself a proper office chair
Sitting on your sofa or even at the dining table to work encourages slouching, putting a strain on your back, neck, and shoulders. Short-term it may seem like a nice relaxed way to work but it very quickly becomes uncomfortable and impacts both your physical wellbeing and your productivity. Whether or not your company is willing to reimburse you for the cost, a good office chair is worth the investment. Look for a stylish chair that provides effective lumbar support and allows you to adjust the angle of the seat and backrest. Leather or mesh office chairs can look smart in a home office set up.
So, these were few tips on how we can ease this new work culture. We might not need to excel in it but as Darwin rightly said, “It’s not the strongest who survives, it’s the one who’s most adaptable to change.” We know times are difficult but let’s move on with some new ideas and adapt them for our good. In the end, this too shall pass.