We are facing challenging and unprecedented times across the world right now and it is important now more than ever to talk to people and do what we can to lift spirits, remain motivated and do what we can to improve our mental health whilst working from home. We have put together some handy tips and advice to help you work from home, be productive and ensure that you maintain good mental and physical health during this time.
- Work Station Environment – Not everyone will have their own home office so it is important to try to set up a work station somewhere in your home that you can keep separate from your living space i.e. spare bedroom or conservatory if possible. It is important to keep your office space and your living space as separate as possible so that you can separate work from home.
- Comfortable and safe – Whilst the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance states that there are risks associated with display screen equipment at home on a long-term basis they have stated that temporary home working would not require a workstation assessment. As we do not know how long home working will last with the current Covid-19 situation, it is important to be comfortable. Ensure you have a decent chair to support your back and spine, a computer chair is ideal. Also, ensure that the top of your screen is level with your eyes to avoid neck stiffness.
- Dress to motivate – Whilst it can be appealing to sit in your PJ’s, it might be worth considering dressing for work. It is not necessary to dress in your suit and tie (unless you really want to) but dressing for work will help you get into the right mindset of work and help to motivate you. It is important to remain comfortable so finding a happy medium of relaxed clothes that don’t make you want to sit in front of the TV will be key.
- To-do lists – Without being in the office with constant contact with your boss or colleagues it can be hard to plan your workload for the day. Organise your day by putting together a to-do list for the week and allocate days to your work so that you know what needs to be done and when. It can be hard to remain motivated at home so having a list of work that needs to be done in the day will help to keep you focused.
- Regular breaks – Sitting in the office you would normally have a break by getting a cuppa or talking to colleagues throughout the day. This forces you to take time away from the screen as well as have some social interaction. Whilst this lack of social contact may make you more productive because you can work without distraction, it is not healthy. Ensure you take a break every 25 minutes by simply walking upstairs, making a drink (but ensure you also drink plenty of water) and even go out into the garden for fresh air. It is important not only for your mental health to take breaks but also for your physical health to avoid sitting too long and stiffening.
- Communication with your team – Working from home can feel lonely, especially if you are used to speaking to colleagues in the office on a daily basis. This can have a negative effect on your mental health so it is extremely important to stay in touch, especially during this current pandemic. As humans, we are social creatures and it is this lack of social interaction that will start to affect our work and well-being the most. It is important to:
- Make time to call colleagues when possible rather than email or even video call them.
- Plan in the diary regularly team meetings via video call.
- As managers, give members of your team a call individually once a week to check that they are ok and see if they need anything
- When calling a colleague or a client, allow a little extra time to chat and ask how they are and how they are adapting themselves. They too may be working from home and haven’t spoken to many people throughout the day so the conversation will be welcomed.
- Routine – It might be tempting to have a long lie-in and start work later when working from home. Whilst working from home does allow this flexibility it is wise to keep to a routine and stick to it. Ensure you set your alarm at the same time throughout your working week so that you can have a set start and finish time. This routine will help you to keep focused and will help to keep you motivated to work.
- Eating habits – It is just as important to eat normally as it is to drink plenty of water throughout your working day. If you would normally take a sandwich to work that is made the night before then continue to do this unless you want to make your sandwiches as a way of taking a break. Avoid raiding the cupboard for snacks that wouldn’t normally be available. It is easy to lose track of time and days when you are working from home but as well as regular breaks throughout the day, it is equally as important to take a lunch break. This break should be away from the computer and your home office set-up. It is also important to take this break away from your mobile too to avoid works calls during your break. Put the phone on silent or leave it in your home office area whilst you take your break so that you can mentally have a break from work.
So remember when working from home, take a break, be comfortable, follow a routine, communicate and overall keep safe both mentally and physically.