Home is where the . . . office is!

28 Mar 2020 by Mike Tisdall

So here we are in lockdown while we wait out the Covid-19 uncertainty. While the concept of working from home is nothing new, implementing it nationwide for an extended period of time is, and it may take some time to adjust to this new normal. 

This is the first in a series of posts to help you settle in to your new routine.

Find a workspace away from distractions. Rather than setting up on your bed or the sofa, get a good supportive chair and flat table surface at the correct heightforearms and thighs parallel to the floor, etc.

Without your usual morning commute, the transition from your pillow to your computer can be difficult. Set your alarm to the regular time, make (or go get) coffee, and regular work clothes. Routines help us adapt to being productive at home.

Without the usual in-office routine it’s easy to lose focus or burn out. Sort your next day schedule the afternoon before. This will help you dive straight in the following morning.
Be flexible if you need to, but commit to an agenda outlining every task and stick to it.
Include breaks in your schedule. It can be easy to get distracted and forget them. Use your breaks to get away from your desk. Go for a walk outside or spend time with others who might also be in the house. Also pick a finishing time each day and stick to it as if you have a bus or train to catch.
Working from home might help you focus in the short term, but it can also make you feel cut off from your co-workers. Use instant messaging and video conferencing tools to stay connected with the team. However, avoid social media. While important to stay in touch, it can also be a distraction especially now! Switch off alerts and resist the temptation to check in during the day.

Your motivation will naturally ebb and flow throughout the day. When you’re working from home, it’s all the more important to recognise when you’re at your best and plan your schedule accordingly. Do creative tasks when you’re ‘hot’ and save admin for those times when you’re feeling less energetic. If you’re slow to get started in the morning, use that time for solitary tasks. Save phone calls, online meetings, and other collaborative work for when you’ve officially 'woken up'.

Many of us will have limited workspace that we’ll need to share. If others are at home such as roommates, kids, siblings, parents, spouses, and dogs (well, maybe not dogs) make sure they respect that just because you’re working from home it doesn’t mean you’re free to socialise. Let them know your scheduled break times and make it clear you are not to be disturbed inbetween. However, human contact is important so make sure you take the time to talk to someone during your breaks especially if your work is mostly solitary.
When you’re in your own home, it can be tempting to spend time preparing a nice breakfast and lunch for yourself, chopping and cooking included. Don’t use precious minutes making your food during the day; cook it the night before. Preparing food ahead of time ensures you can use your meal times to eat, and that you aren’t performing non-work tasks that spend energy better used at your desk.
This season will pass, take care of yourself and check in with your team mates regularly to make sure you can have fun, sound off, and stay on task!
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