Back to the home office: What did we learn from the first lockdown?
When we first started working from home back in March, no-one expected to still be here 10 months later. Whether you’ve been working remotely the whole time or went back to the office briefly between lockdowns, we’ve all spent a lot more time than planned in our makeshift home office spaces. So what have we learnt about working from home?
1. Don’t be too hard on yourself
This lesson is the hardest to learn but the most beneficial once you do. Working from home, you will have days when you are very productive and days where you just can’t get your head in the game. Perhaps you find it hard without your colleagues around to bounce ideas off one another or perhaps there’s a lot going on at home, especially if you’re juggling a full-time job with home schooling. Don’t punish yourself if you have an off day or need to take time away to help the kids. If necessary, speak to your manager about their expectations. Perhaps a more flexible schedule would better suit your personal situation and allow you to do your job better.
2. Allow yourself breaks
Don’t feel guilty about taking time away from your desk. Taking short breaks can actual help you to focus better and be more productive. In the office, maybe you’d chat to co-workers while you work or make a cup of tea – don’t treat it any differently at home. Working from home many of us feel the need to prove to mangers that we are still working hard and not taking advantage of the situation, but that doesn’t mean that you must be tied to your desk all day. Remote working is about trust: as long as you get the job done then your manager should trust you to manage your time effectively.
3. Invest in a comfortable desk set up and office chair
Working on the sofa in pyjamas sounded fun at the start of the first lockdown. But, the excitement wore off quickly! Fast forward 10 months and anyone who hasn’t got a proper desk set up at home is desperate to get back to the office. For the sake of your long-term health, it’s worth making the effort to create a proper workspace. Ideally you need a desk that is the right working height, so you don’t put too much pressure on your shoulders and an ergonomic office chair to prevent long term damage to your back caused by slouching. This is relatively inexpensive to achieve and it’s always worth asking if your company can provide any sort of budget. Our tip: if you invest in one piece of equipment for your home office, make it a comfortable chair.
4. Get up and move
Working from home can mean you spend even more time sitting down than you would in the office. We’re all walking more and taking advantage of daily exercise as much as possible to get outside but it’s still easy to sit from 9-5. Don’t fall victim to sedentary working patterns. Instead try to get into a routine that forces you to get up from your desk. Walk around while taking phone calls. Force yourself to get up once an hour and do some stretches or run up and down the stairs. Kids doing P.E. with Joe Wicks? Join in!
5. Talk to your colleagues and manager frequently
One of the biggest risks of working from home is becoming isolated. It’s important to maintain a social relationship with your co-workers as well as a professional one. Connecting to others will give you a mental boost and give you an outlet for any work and non-work related issues that impact on your ability to do your job. Don’t worry about not being productive if you’re chatting about what you’ve watched on Netflix, you’ll go back to work refreshed and ready to concentrate. Talking to your colleagues is also a great way to find out how other people are coping with working from home and if they have any tips that could help you.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to working from home. What looks certain is that remote working is likely to become a normal part of our working lives in one capacity or another. So, it’s important that you figure out what works for you and what doesn’t.
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