Working from Home? Here’s how to do it healthily…
Updated: Jun 8, 2020
As more and more people are being asked to work from home now that Covid-19 has taken hold it is imperative that those who are, are also supporting their well being whilst doing so.
Contrary to popular belief, working from home is not always the ideal way of working for many people. As wonderful as it sounds to wake up later and lounge around in comfy clothes, it can lead to a disrupted routine, a dip in productivity and, alarmingly, feelings of loneliness and even depression.
Despite craving to work from home in my last career actually doing so was a huge shock to me when I became a coach and I struggled with motivating myself and keeping focused. In fact, I sometimes still do (my home is sometimes very clean!) so I will be following my own tips on this one and hope it helps anyone in the same position.
Create one and stick to it. This is easier said than done as certain daily deadlines (as in arriving at work at a set time) no longer need to be kept to.
If you can – keep to the same times you have now so as not to upset your body clock too much. Get up at the same time and use that extra time you would have spent commuting doing something with your family or for yourself. Ideally a walk outside in the fresh air to get as much daylight and exercise as possible as this is now lost if you are no longer travelling to work.
If you struggle with getting started, then organise to have a call – preferably a video call - with your manager or a colleague so you are ready for the working day.
Having this meeting will drive you to get up, have a shower and look presentable as well as get your mind into ‘work mode’ in terms of what you will discuss.
Some people can work just as well in PJ’s as they can when suited and booted, however, to help your mindset start by wearing something that would resemble what you would wear when at work. This will also prevent you from jumping up every 10 minutes to run an errand or do a task around the house.
2. Working Environment
Whatever you are wearing, it is vital that your working environment is conducive to working well. This includes your desk set up – are you comfortable with good posture? Is your screen at the right level? Do you have enough space?
Another mindset tool is to avoid working in your bedroom as this is your place for rest and sleep – the more you work here the more your brain will believe this is space to be awake and alert in and the harder it will be for you to switch off when you actually want to sleep.
If you can, find a quiet place where you won’t be distracted but where you can focus. It gets tricky if you have family or housemates who are in at the same time so consider setting a few boundaries to avoid any issues. For example, when I am on a coaching call, I close the door and my boyfriend knows not to come barging in.
With schools now closing having children home may prove to be disruptive so I am giving you a tip from my mum! She worked from home for the majority of my childhood and taught me how to answer the phone and take messages if one her clients called (free PA!) Not only did that set a precedent of how to be professional when working from home it also involved me in her business in a tiny way, so I felt included and not rejected when she was busy.
Keeping in contact with your colleagues may not be vital for business but is absolutely crucial for everyone’s well being. Agree as a team as to how you will do this – email, instant messenger or calls? Or a combination of them all? You may also want to set some boundaries as to how much to communicate. I know a manager who often takes over 15 calls a day from one of his team which can be incredibly frustrating and time wasting
Having around 3 main check-ins throughout the day works well; an early morning briefing (to make sure everyone is up and awake), halfway through the day to check in on progress and answer queries and a final one towards the end of the day to ensure nothing has been missed.
Speaking to people at least once a day is essential to keep feelings of isolation, loneliness and even depression at bay. This is especially true with what we are currently facing with coronavirus when employees may be feeling particularly anxious about the threat of job loss or becoming ill.
Take some time out. I fell into the trap of staying stuck at my desk for hours on end and then wondering why I was so stiff and had back issues!
Set times during the day to take breaks and have your lunch hour – go outside if you can have some exercise, fresh air and daylight. Call a friend or colleague to see how they are getting on – basically anything away from your work.
Or use the Pomodoro Technique of working – set your timer for 25 minutes and work on a task for the entire time. Once the timer goes off have a 5-minute break, preferably away from your desk or work and then repeat. After four rounds of this take a longer break of about 15 minutes.
This is a time management tool created by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980’s and he named it after the tomato (pomodoro) kitchen timer his mum had in her kitchen. Which reminds me – the oven needs cleaning!
Happy home working and wishing you a very healthy week!
Do you or your team need more guidance to work well from home? If so, then don’t hesitate to get in touch for coaching and my latest webinar Working Healthily From Home