COVID-19 has made working from home mandatory for many of us. We asked some of our colleagues in the UK who routinely work from home how they manage working remotely and to share tips for working from home to avoid common pitfalls.
Here are their top 10 work from home tips:
1. Stay Active
A morning workout helps wake the brain up. Even if your local gym is closed, you have other options. Going for a brisk walk or jog is a great start to the day. The fresh air and getting your blood pumping will help avoid that “cabin fever” feeling, and help you feel productive.
There are also a great range of workouts available online. From Zumba, to boxing, you’re guaranteed to feel good after a workout, and get your mind in the right place to continue with your day job.
2. Stick to a “Normal” Schedule
A lot of us tend to complain about the predictability of life, but it helps maintain normalcy, especially in changing and challenging situations.
Stick to a normal routine as much as possible: wake up at the same time, exercise as you would normally, get dressed, eat breakfast, etc.
3. Make Your “Home Office” Real
It’s all too easy to grab the laptop, sit on the sofa, or stay in bed and get carried away with emails. Do your best to avoid this pitfall.
Make your dedicated workspace a comfortable environment. Try to set up your laptop in a place where you feel comfortable, preferably free of distractions. If possible, set your office up somewhere bright, near a window where you can look outside and get some fresh air when needed. Keep some plants or flowers nearby.
4. Take Regular Breaks
When you’re in the office, you’d normally get up from your desk, make coffee or chat with a colleague, then carry on with your work. It’s still important to take breaks while working from home. Take a break from looking at your screen for a few minutes to rest your eyes and refresh your mind.
Taking regular breaks helps you stay focused when you get back to your desk and removes the “I can’t look at my screen anymore” feeling we all get after a long day’s work.
Getting outside on your lunch break for a bit of fresh air also helps to refocus for the rest of the day.
5. Be Organised
Have a to-do list. Set specific goals you want to achieve in your day, and as you work through them, cross them off. This gives you a huge sense of accomplishment and provides motivation to keep working through the rest of your list.
Set times for tasks by putting them in your calendar and dedicating a certain amount of time to completing them. Of course, be realistic in the amount of time you give yourself to complete each task.
Set a schedule of what you need/want to do the following day too. If you have children, get them involved in planning their own schedule to help them feel involved and occupied, which will ultimately help the adults in the house who are working from home.
6. Stay Social
Don’t become isolated — pick up the phone or jump on a Skype/Teams call. Picking up the phone and speaking to your colleagues instead of emailing or messaging helps avoid feelings of isolation.
Your colleagues are probably feeling lonely as well. After all, this is new for a lot of us, so managers and colleagues may want to check in on one another to see if they’re adjusting their new work environment.
7. Don’t Stop Learning
Dedicate time in your day to learn. Most companies offer an online learning platform or training courses to their staff. Block out a section of your day or week to keep on top of these. Keeping your mind active and engaged; constantly learning is imperative to productivity.
At EBSCO we have access to out Accel5 resources. Some are free throughout the pandemic: https://www.accel-5.com/pages/covid-19
8. Keep the Kids Entertained
If you don’t have children, skip to Tip #nine.
If you have pre-school children and a partner at home, take turns entertaining the children while the other parent works. This will help each of you work more effectively and you’ll likely view your work as more of a break than the other way around.
If you have slightly older children, let them know you have times set aside for work. Set times for breaks and help them feel part of that. Create your schedule together and catch up on how you’re getting on with your to-do list.
If you have a conference call or online meeting, explain to the children what you are doing and what you need from them. (e.g. quiet time for 30mins/1hour). Inform the meeting organiser prior to the meeting that you have children present and ask for the meeting to be recorded should you need to drop out. If you are organising a meeting, make it known to your attendees the meeting will be recorded in case anyone needs to leave.
While it’s not ideal, if you have a day where the kids are driving you crazy, you can always catch-up on things once they’re asleep if this helps reduce stress and anxiety throughout your working day. Be balanced and be realistic.
9. Social Media Distancing
We all love social media, but we are also aware that it can result in wasted time and productivity.
When working from home, it can be easier to reach for the phone or go online. Try not to get sucked in. Set dedicated times for social media browsing. Log out of your apps in the morning, log in again only at lunch or the end of your day. This will help you stay focused and feel more productive throughout your day, and if you have children, you set a good example for them too.
Easier said than done but relax. Try not to worry unnecessarily about work. There will be days when the internet just doesn’t want to play ball, when the neighbor’s builders have the power tools going all day, and you feel like everything is taking three times as long as normal. There will be days where you’re glued to your screen all day and complete an extra two hours of work than you need because you’re on a roll.
Even for seasoned home workers, the circumstances around COVID-19 are exceptional and challenging. Remember, you are not alone. We are all in this together. We hope some of these tips will help get into a good rhythm of working from home.