Needless to say, we are in the middle of unprecedented circumstances due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Infections are on the rise and you may be one of many who can or are being asked to work at home. Not stuck squeezed yoga-like into train/underground carriage, may be a good thing at the moment. Commuting and being in an office in close proximity can expose us to all manner of bugs least of all Covid-19. The best option then to keep yourself, your co-workers and loved ones healthy is home based working.
However, working at home is not necessarily as easy as it sounds. Without the day to day buzzing around in an office, home working can be a serious challenge for many people. Families, hardware, software, distractions, etc, etc are all issues for the uninitiated home-based worker. So what can be done, what is the best way to approach the opportunity to stay productive, healthy and more to the point sane during our time at home at work during the pandemic?
Where to start
The thought of working at home can, at the outset, be a novel experience. Jumping out of bed and switching on the laptop in front of daytime telly can be quite appealing. Though as with any new way of working we need a plan. A plan that will cover all the bases. Where do we store work stuff, where do we work, how can we manage children when we are in the middle of an important call? How can we stay productive, if there is a pile of washing that can be done? All great questions that will need an answer at some point in the not too distant future, if you are planning to home-based working.
When we work at home we can experience a weird phenomenon, known as temporal and spatial separation. That’s to say, all of the cues around you are saying I’m at home but supposed to be at work. It’s the same the other way round when you are at work, everything is set up to tell you that you are at work – so we behave like it. Hence the reason that the commute is a great thing. A commute helps us move from one headspace to another seamlessly. Home is for family and friends and work is, well for worky stuff. The key then is to get your head around this concept as early as possible.
The Home Working Plan
So we have the concept of temporal and spatial separation between home and work to sort out. Simple, get up and do what you would do to get ready for work. Shirt and tie if you wear one or work clothes, have breakfast and “commute.” May be taking the dog for a walk, go for a jog or just nip down the shop for some milk. Something that helps you get your head ready for work. Of course, we can reverse the process at the end of the day to move from work to home. Ready to do battle with dragons, help with homework and just do home things. You get the picture.
Now then your workspace, where can you set up your desk?. You will need somewhere away from family activities if possible and something you can dress up as a workspace. Not everyone will have access to a spare room but it’s just about making your work station look and feel like one. You do not necessarily need to have a dedicated room, a corner in your living room or bedroom that’s been specially set-up as a workspace will suffice. By creating a dedicated workspace, you can raise your productivity levels and remain focused. The key is to keep the space clutter-free and well organised and give it a professional work orientated feel. It’s about getting your mind located in a place that you associate with being at work. All of the cues around you are about work and not necessarily at home. Try to minimise distractions and decorate the space in a way that helps you feel comfortable, yet productive
Get up and Move
We all know that being sedentary isn’t good and has consequences on the waistline as well as your wellbeing. Sitting at a desk will put pressure on joints and your back. Along with eye strain and headaches from constant use of a computer or other devices. Computer screens seem to suck your soul right out of your eye sockets and can feel like your life’s energy has been drained. How many of us forget the Health and Safety regulations we would apply in the workplace whilst we are at home at work? We still need to be mindful of all of the workstation regulations.
There is plenty of evidence for poor mental and physical health by such practices. On the flip side, of course, we are not being exposed to or exposing others to illness. In general, however, homeworking can exhibit significantly better work-life balance and improved wellbeing, If managed properly of course. In most cases, it’s about making small but meaningful changes to encourage a homeworking routine to ensure your service & maintain your mental and physical wellbeing.
Home Working Daily Plan
So here are a few things to consider when planning your home-based working life without compromising your working commitments but remaining in great shape.
- Up and Atom – don’t be tempted to nip downstairs in your pyjamas, check a few emails and pop back to bed. Get going and rise and shine, have a proper breakfast and perhaps some exercise before starting work. You will find the fresh air and the endorphins from the exercise will charge your thinking and you will feel ready for the day.
- Keep fit – plan in regular exercise during the day. Whether that is exercise at home, going for a run, walk or cycle rides will help to maintain motivation and supercharge your emotional wellbeing for your working day.
- Sit comfortably – Double check your chair to help protect your back and posture. Is it the right height, do you need a footrest, is the space around your desk clear ie no opportunities for slips trips or falls. Are your elbows directly below your shoulders when typing? There are lots of things online to help you with these aspects of home office health & safety along with safe computer use so try not to neglect this area.
- Desk Exercise – Find some doable neck, shoulders, eyes, fingers, wrists, arms and back exercises.
- Build your concentration levels – Working at home presents loads of opportunities for procrastination, so focus up keeping concentration levels up. Control your thinking patterns, try mindfulness meditation, manage your stress and anxiety of working at home. Build-in frequent changes to your working day to not accept the routine of the day.
- Stock the kitchen with healthy snacks and meals –Snacking during work is common across all workplaces and needless to say we’re all tempted to venture into the kitchen looking for something to brighten up a dull afternoon. Keep junk food or unhealthy snacks out of sight and instead stock up on fresh fruits and veg on your trips to the supermarket.
There are good business & professional reasons for working at, in or from home during these unprecedented times. The key then is staying fit and healthy whilst working at home, during the Covid-19 pandemic. Alertness and effectiveness are easier when you are well and happy with your surroundings at work at home. If you’re working from home a lot in the coming weeks, it may be a good idea to get organised and start to plan your workspace. Negotiate with the family and to make sure when you are working at home you can stay productive.
I hope you find these suggestions interesting and please drop me a line with the activities you engage in whilst working at home to keep body and soul together. With just a few positive changes working at home can be a life-changing opportunity for a better work-life balance and staying free from the dreaded Covid-19 virus.