Working from home – five top tips from our team

It’s been a few weeks since Coronavirus changed the way we live and work for the foreseeable future, and so we wanted to check in to see how you’re doing? With the type of job that you do, are you able to work from home (or WFH as the cool kids on Instagram are calling it)? How are you finding it? What have been the challenges for you? Have you noticed any benefits to working from home as opposed to an office?

As you may know, our team normally works from our offices in Consett. That said, we do have a flexible working policy, so our team can WFH when they need to. But, just like many others, COVID-19 is nothing like we’ve ever seen in our lifetime, and so to have the whole team OOO (that’s another acronym for you and means ‘Out of Office’) has been new and uncharted waters for us to navigate too.

We saw on social media a great little meme. It said that you’re not working from home. Instead, you’re at home during a crisis trying to work. That really rang true for us. While some businesses are saying its business as normal, actually, there’s nothing ‘normal’ about the situation we find ourselves in. Instead, working from home is about business continuity, which over the past few weeks, has become the new ‘normal’ for many.

So, now that we’ve had the chance to settle into these new ways of working, just like we’re checking in with you, we checked in with our team to see how they’re doing and to ask them to share their top tips for working from home too.

Working from home – five top tips from our team

​1. Have a clear zone

Not everyone has the luxury of a home office. Even if you do, it’s likely there’s only been one person working in there at any one time, but with the country on lockdown, you’re probably finding there’s more than one person vying for the same space.

Make sure you have your own zone at home that is dedicated for you so you can easily have that work time/home time separation still. Even if it’s setting up your laptop at your dining room table, make sure you have everything you need in your ‘zone’. Whether that’s pens, pencils, a note pad, calculator or a favourite ‘work mug’, that’s where you work from and the rest of your home is where you spend your leisure time.

2. ​Set boundaries

It’s very easy to get carried away when working from home. Either setting your alarm to snooze and not heading to your working zone until after 11am, or conversely letting the time run away with you without the usual social cues of working in an office, and finding you’re still beavering away at 11pm at night.

Set some boundaries and stick to them. When are you going to get up, what time will you start work, when will you have a lunch break and what time are you finishing? Make sure you adhere to these boundaries and if possible, share them with someone else so you’re held accountable too. While we may not be able to get out and about and enjoy an active social life like we used to, it’s still really important that you have a clear separation between your work and home life.

3. ​Accept it isn’t going to be easy

Humans are social animals. We thrive in herds or groups of people. If you’re not used to working from home with perhaps only your partner and children around you, then this is bound to have been a big shift for you.

Go easy on yourself and recognise that actually, these changes are pretty difficult to embrace and get your head around. In some ways, it’s a bit like grief. You’re missing the life you used to live in the office with your work colleagues – and it’s totally normal to feel this way.

Recognise your feelings, accept that you’re going to have some off days. Be kind to yourself, practice self-care and try to find ways to stay connected to your work colleagues, whether that’s daily Zoom calls or even just working with them on Skype in the background to give you that ‘office’ feel.

​4. Juggle your commitments – work as flexibly as you can

It’s very true that we’re all in this together. Even if you used to work from home, it’s likely that your parents would do their own food shop, you weren’t responsible for checking in on neighbours, the kids were at school and your partner was working from their office in town. Now that’s all changed – everyone’s priorities have shifted and commitments have changed. It’s near impossible to do what you have to do – home school and care for vulnerable people in your families and the wider community – while working the normal 9-5.

Set yourself a work schedule to help juggle your commitments.

Could you have a Power Hour of replying to emails and returning calls first thing on a morning while your partner makes the kids’ breakfasts? Can you then tag out and you take over morning lessons for home schooling while your partner does a few hours work. Do you then all stop for lunch together and go for a walk as part of your one hour of exercise per day, before heading home and you picking back up your work to-do list?

This is just an example and by no means set in stone. Try out a few different variations of a schedule and see what fits best for you, your family and of course your business needs too. Try not to worry too much about not being available 9-5pm – lots of people are in the same boat and are more than understanding. 

One tip from our team is add a little note to your email footer or set your out of office explaining the situation and outline what hours of the day you will be working and available to deal with customers.

5. ​Look after yourself – physically, mentally and emotionally

If you’re not used to working from home, it can be tough to adapt to this new rhythm. Ask anyone who worked from home before COVID-19 and they’ll tell you that at first it was all too easy to stay in your pjs, drink tea and eat biscuits, then order a take away at the end of the day because they were too drained from sitting in one spot staring at a laptop all day.It’s really important – now more than ever – that you look after yourself. 

Take advantage of the opportunities working from home presents. Now that you don’t have a commute into the office, why not use the extra time you have on a morning to do a workout – how about a yoga video on YouTube? Then make sure you wash, get dressed and turn up for the day.Instead of driving to a shop to pick up a pre-packaged sandwich, like you would if you were in the office, why not spend your lunch break preparing something quick, easy and nutritious? 

Then, use the rest of the time you would normally take up travelling to and from your office on your break to read a book or a listen to a podcast, so you’re well rested and refreshed, ready for your afternoon of work.With not having to commute back home from work or pick kids up from after school clubs and childminders, why not use this time to play some games as a family, or FaceTime a relative to have a catch up. With after school activities and other hobbies being cancelled, enjoy a meal all together at the table then snuggle down for a family movie night. Try to embrace this extra time you have together with loved ones and make sure you’re looking after yourself and others as best as you can.

So what do you think of these hints and tips from the team? Do you already do some of these when WFH or are there any nuggets of wisdom you’ll be incorporating into your daily routine? Working from home – if you’re not used to it – or sharing your working from home space when you’re normally going it alone can be hard. 

You’re bound to face some challenges, but there’s also some real opportunities for you and your family to enjoy here too. 

Take it one day at a time, be open minded with this.

This article first appeared on our old website.