With the majority of the UK now working from home in line with current Government guidelines, there has been no better time to look at how you can create a happy and productive home office environment.
Though none of us can get out and about other than for essentials at the moment, there is still so much you can do to create a suitable work station, to settle your body and mind and to continue being as productive as you possibly can.
Aside from the well-documented need to continue exercising and staying safe and healthy, we’ve created our own guide to staying on top of a working life based at home.
Create a separate environment
It may seem obvious, but if you can work away from your bed, then do so. Even better, as far from your bedroom as possible.
Many of us who are used to being office-based won’t necessarily have the infrastructure or set-up to instantly work from home – so, before you get comfortable, it’s worth taking the time to create your own separate ‘work from home’ space, away from areas you’d normally associate with leisure.
Space and set up are crucial – ensure you have enough room to operate efficiently in so you have access to all the resources you need in one place. If you don’t have items such as a comfortable work chair or desk, it’s worth looking online for what’s available and what you could have delivered. Alternatively, think outside the box with quick fixes – books stacked under your laptop or pillows to support your back. Sometimes it’s about working with what you’ve got!
Ensure you have a routine – and stick to it
You’d have a routine for going to work normally, so it’s key to maintain and adapt it for home working. It could be anything from not opening your emails until you’re fully washed and dressed, or you could ensure you’ve still had your morning caffeine fix before you start work.
Making time both before and after work to ‘wind-up’ or ‘wind-down’ is important, even if it’s only 15-30 minutes at either end of the working day.
Giving yourself a proper break, as you may do in the office (workload permitting!) is also vital for your mental health – so plan your day well and if you can get out for your hour’s exercise at lunchtime, great. If not, then make sure you get away from your desk and relax for a while.
Keep the treats – but don’t over-indulge
A disciplined mind leads to a healthy body! It’s very easy to get through an endless supply of unhealthy snacks if you’re not normally used to working from home – and why shouldn’t you do what you can to comfort your mind and keep your brain energised during a testing time?
However, it’s crucial to keep a lid on things – emptying the kitchen cupboard in the space of a couple of days can be very easily done if you don’t maintain discipline.
So, in line with the routine you’ve created for yourself, make sure you only reward yourself when it’s necessary and when you feel you’ve earned it.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
Working from home has its perks – including perceived increases in productivity due to decreased day-to-day, face-to-face interaction with colleagues – but communication is more vital than ever.
Ensure that you are communicating regularly with colleagues, be that through online workflow systems or simply by picking up the phone. What we have found is that, as a team, we have never spoken to each other more! Staying in the loop with everything, both work-related and otherwise, is key to maintaining crucial relationships both with colleagues and clients which will blossom upon our return to a ‘regular’ office environment.
These strong relationships are what will remain in an ever-changing and unprecedented scenario. And they will be even stronger for it.
This is not forever – but outlooks may change for the better
The scenario we find ourselves in with Covid-19 is a very strange one – given that the entire world is in exactly the same boat.
Remember everybody you speak to is encountering the same problems and concerns – so sharing expertise and tips is vital to maintaining and improving the way we operate for the good of our mental and physical wellbeing.
It’s also very important to remember that the current climate, whether it lasts for weeks or months, will not be here forever – but our outlook on productivity and the working environment may change permanently and for the better.
With that in mind, it’s worth keeping a note of things which you have found work well for you and things which haven’t. It may be a particular communication tool, a certain way of working or a specific routine which you’ve followed. Share it with your colleagues and your friends and see how outlooks benefit when we all return to our regular office routine.