2020 was certainly a very strange year for all of us. There is no doubt that Covid-19 has had a massive effect on each one of us in one way or another. In particular, many employees are now working from home and it seems that with these recent changes it will remain, for a lot of people, that way through 2021 and beyond.
Home working has been quite an adjustment for many people including myself. When we have all been so used to going into the office, it can be easy to lose motivation, confidence and drive.
For me most of my working week is spent in the conservatory, that's where I have created my home working space. I’ve got some great views of fields out the back, my weekly fuel bill has come down considerably whilst working from home which is a bonus and my commute takes me all of 20 seconds compared to the usual 30-45 minutes twice a day.
Personally though, when it comes to working environments, I prefer a mix. I love my time in the office with my colleagues and get excited when I am permitted to - free from the distractions of partners, children and a very yappy dog! I find my concentration levels better when I’m in the office. With home working being the norm at the moment, I have learned to put some mechanisms in place to help get the best out of my day at home.
With this in mind here are my 9 tips for a successful and efficient working day at home.
Set your alarm and wake up early, as you would do for a normal working day at the office. The temptation to stay in bed all morning would be lovely! Grab yourself a drink of tea/coffee or water to start your day and make time for breakfast, which is one of the most important meals of the day. I think of it as putting fuel in my tank to give me energy to start my day!
2. Dress for Success
Get out of your comfy PJ’s and get dressed for success! Including showering and cleaning your teeth. You don’t have to wear a suit, but this will tell your brain that it’s work time, not relaxation time, and you will feel more energetic and motivated.
3. Start & Stop Time
Set yourself a start and stop time. it’s important to work when you need to and give yourself time for home life to. In addition to this take your breaks, lunch time especially and if you can take a short walk, your body needs to move and the fresh air and natural light will do you good. You will find yourself more productive because of doing these things and reduce your stress levels when you’re not doing work. We all need to find a work life balance!
4. Dedicated office space
We are not all fortunate enough to have a separate office at home with desk and chair, however if you can create some dedicated office space it will make it feel more like you’re at an office. Ideally your setup will help maintain good posture, avoid distractions and you can leave the space at the end of the day. I have a mirrored set up at home similar to my office set up including my office chair provided by my employer set up on my dining room table. Remote working
5. Stay connected
Loneliness, confidence issues and isolation are common problems when home working. Check in regularly with colleagues by phone or video. Applications like Microsoft Teams, Zoom etc. have never been more popular in our workplaces such as now during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have adopted using Microsoft Teams for all our internal meetings with colleagues as well as for external customer meetings. I use Teams more than I use the phone now to contact my colleagues.
For a lot of people, home working inevitably means children and animals are brought into the mix and are part of the reality of home working. Many of us have younger children, babies and toddlers which occupy our time and need a huge amount of attention and it can be difficult juggling the time for work as well. You may be lucky enough to have relatives or friends to help out. However, If your employer allows it, mix up your hours. Some companies are more understanding with Covid -19 around and will allow the flexibility to do the hours when you can. It’s not ideal but you will be more productive with less interruptions.
If you have a dog like me I do walk him before I start work and I do shut him away safe in another room, so I have no disruptions especially when I have meetings or telephone calls.
Your IT can also be a disruption. If your laptop or network connection goes wrong you cannot work and stress levels rise, adding to the mix of other disruptions in the home. Having someone you trust to deal with your IT issues and turn to when your IT goes a little awry is essential. A good IT support team can connect to your IT where ever you are working and fix problems quickly. Allowing you to get on with the job at hand. I outsource my IT support to Concise who treat me like any other client who calls.
We all need to be more aware than ever as the Hackers/Scammers seem to be on overdrive. Your 20 times more likely to get hacked than you are to get attacked in the street nowadays, frightening isn’t it? Don’t click on anything or open any attachments that seems suspicious and make sure you have the appropriate security applications installed on your home working device and have the latest windows software updates installed. If you are worried you can always talk to an IT provider for advice or read this advice from the National Cyber Security Centre on securing your home device.
8. End your workday
Just as you start the day with some routine, ideally end the day too with a routine, this helps tell your brain it’s the end of the workday. For me shutting down my computer signals the end of the working day. It’s then onto picking children up from school as I would on a normal workday. For some of my other colleague’s it’s walking the dog or doing some form of exercise, whatever you chose to do make it a consistent routine.
What works for some of us doesn’t work for others, find what’s best for you, sometimes it isn’t always apparent, talk to your friends and colleagues, you may find inspiration from others who are in the same boat. Consider too that you might need to change your routine, you’ve heard the saying “a change is as good as a rest!”
Finally, take care of yourself and stay safe 😊
- Treat working from home as any other working day at the office
- Establish a routine with a start and end of the work day
- Set some ground rules around children and animals
- Takes regular breaks and include a 15 minute walk at lunchtime to provide oxygen to the brain and a stretch to the legs.
- Create a space which is only used for work, to help distinguish between your work life and home life.
- Home or remote working has become a norm for a lot of office based people, make sure your people are setup for their best work, speak to Concise about Remote Working or IT Support services Today.
Mandy Flanagan is a Commercial Account Manager at Concise Technologies and has been with the company for 18 years.