If you are having to work from home for the first time in a long time, it’s a daunting prospect – here’s our tips on how to keep motivated and stay productive
Thousands of us are already trying to stave off the coronavirus crisis with social distancing and isolation measures, but with the news that schools will shut their gates from Friday afternoon, many more of us are going to be flung into uncharted territory and working from home.
But what does this mean for you and how are you going to get through and be as productive as ever? Living’s got these top ten tips to help.
1. Get what you need
First things first, make sure you have all the equipment you need to carry out your job remotely. Things like a laptop, phone and open lines of communication are vital if you have a desk job. You’ll need access to emails and any work server to make your transition to working from home as seamless as possible. If you don’t have access to these tools and equipment, discuss with your employer as they may have already put guidelines and procedures in place to ensure all or some of their employees can effectively work from home.
2. Health and safety
But what does this mean for you in terms of health and safety? ACAS – the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, which aims to improve working life through better employment relations – says that employers have a duty of care for all their employees, and the requirements of the health and safety legislation apply to homeworkers. “The employer is responsible for carrying out a risk assessment to check whether the proposed home workplace’s ventilation, temperature, lighting, space, chair, desk and computer, or any kind of workstation, and floor are suitable for the tasks the homeworker will be carrying out,” it says on its website: acas.org.uk.
But it’s important to note that this guidance from the ACAS focuses on regular ‘office’ homeworking that is an official agreement between employee and employer. But in these testing and quick-changing times, where we have all been asked to uproot our daily routines, it’s important that we use these guidelines and take some personal responsibility for making our homes a safe working environment as well.
3. Getting in work mode
Anyone who works from home on a regular basis will tell you that the hardest part is getting your mind into work mode. So, do exactly that. Get up, have breakfast, have a wash and get dressed! Keep your morning routine as much as possible to ensure you keep your mind on the job. Be ready to go when you would normally be at work. This will show your employer that they can trust you to carry out your tasks at home relatively unsupervised.
4. Plan your day
Make a plan for your day just as you would if you were in the office. And whether that means writing a to-do list out or using an online planner it’ll help to keep you on track. If you have children to look after as well then a schedule will help massively with fitting in your work around their needs and school tasks.
5. Keep in contact
Stay in contact with your colleagues as much as possible. Install a web chat service such as Skype or Microsoft Teams so that you can ask and discuss simple queries quickly and effectively. And don’t forget about using the phone and your voice too. Messages can be efficient but it does not replace visual and vocal contact which can also break up your day. In most instances you can also video call through web messaging services which is ideal if you prefer to discuss things face-to-face.
6. Keep boundaries
Have a dedicated area to work in and keep it just for work and nothing else. Make sure it’s a well-lit and ventilated area and you feel comfortable where you are sat. If you have the little ones to contend with, sit down and talk to them about the situation and let them know which areas are for work and which are for play. Set them tasks to complete in the work area and then give them regular scheduled play time too.
7. Take regular breaks
This is really important too. Because you are faced with a different working environment you might be tempted to sit at your home desk for hours without actually having a break. Make sure you get up away from your screen, stay hydrated and be active too.
8. Fresh air, fresh mind
And get outside, we are still able to venture outdoors. Staffordshire has an abundance of beautiful countryside to explore but if you need to be a little closer to home at the very least get out into your garden for a breath of fresh air.
9. Shift work
If both you and your partner are working from home and you have children to look after, you might be better off taking a shift like approach to home working so that you can both have the chance to concentrate fully on your work at different times.
10. Keep going
Finally, keep going. These are extremely challenging and difficult times for us all so let’s pull together and do the best we can for each other as well as ourselves. Working from home may be disruptive in the short term but isolating ourselves to help keep the spread of coronavirus at bay is going to help keep the vulnerable healthy and us all survive financially in the long term.
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