As more of us work remotely at home, it is important to ensure that we consider the space where we are working, how we work and how to maintain a work/life balance. We have created our own Top Tips for Remote Working and believe that by getting all of these elements right will improve your mental health and make the experience of working remotely more managable, effective – and even enjoyable!
Our recommended three areas to consider are:
- Experiment with your set up
Do you have a spare room or room separate from the day-to-day buzz? We would suggest not your own bedroom. Do you have a comfortable desk & chair? If using the dining room, do you need extra cushions for back support? Is your Laptop/PC in the correct position? We would suggest a separate keyboard and/or screen to ensure the correct screen height and keyboard level. Is there adequate light? Preferably day light with a spotlight lamp to avoid straining your eyes and to keep you awake and energised. Is your background suitable for video calls? What pictures, ornaments, books etc. can people see?
- Create work/home boundaries
It is always best to have a discussion about your needs with your family. Do you need set quiet times to concentrate or for planned calls each day? For meetings, can your family stay in one room in the house or pop to the shop? We recommend sharing your schedule so that plans can be made around calls and meetings. We would suggest that you switch off when the work day is over and be available from the end of the day as quickly as possible. If you are ‘running late’ – let your family know!
- Motivating & Comfortable
An office environment will be deliberately designed to be motivating while practical therefore we suggest you take inspiration from your usual workspace. Whether you choose motivating quotes or pictures of nature or family, make your new workplace feel warm and energised with colour and even visual aids that relate to your work – a calendar, key contact details, guidance & advice. You also should consider making it comfortable with plants, light, music as you will be spending the majority of your day there. However, make sure it’s not too cosy, you might be at home but you are still working!
- Set Routine
For the majority, remote working is temporary so we recommend keeping your routine as close to ‘normal’ so that when you return to the office, it is not a shock to the system. Set your usual alarm, get dressed (we know it is tempting to stay in your PJs!) and you can even emulate your ‘commute’ by going for a quick walk before you start work.
- 1-hr slots/3x tasks
We highly recommend you structure your day to prevent the habit of ‘head down’ and letting the day merge into hours of ‘slog’. By selecting only 2-3 core tasks to focus on a day and blocking your day into 1-hour slots with breaks, you will be more productive and effective. Having the opportunity to stop after an hour, it will keep you on track by allowing you to step back and evaluate how long you have spent on a task and where you are. By using your calendar, you will be reminded to pause, whether that be to make a cup of coffee and settle for a 15-min admin/email break or to ensure you have a proper lunch. We even suggest booking 10-min ‘social’ breaks too (see below!)
- Use your digital calendar
By using your digital calendar, you are ticking two boxes: keeping yourself in check and on track (read above) but by sharing this calendar with your team, it helps with visibility of what you are working on and also when it is best to contact you. It’s up to you how detailed you keep your calendar, but it is a great way of letting your team/colleagues know your focus and will help to keep you motivated too.
- Time to engage
Some people will naturally be keen to stay in touch their manager/team/colleagues but everyone is different. We recommend daily or weekly calls with colleagues to discuss what work you have been doing, to gain advice and to talk through any issues. Make sure there is a purpose and structure to this call/meeting. This keeps you on track with your workload – making you accountable and helps with visibility of progress. It is also the best way to find out whether someone has any issues or is struggling. You might find a simple email detailing your progress will help both you and your colleagues. We are social creatures – so don’t let you or your team go without regular contact as it is vital to touch base for mental health purposes.
In the office, you’ll naturally socialise throughout the day whilst at home, you could be alone or without company for hours on end. We highly recommend scheduling 1-2x short 10-min breaks a day where you speak to someone else. This could be family, but preferably someone at work BUT the rules are – NO WORK TALK! This call is 100% personal and 100% necessary to expand your mental bubble of people you engage with to ensure you don’t go stir-crazy at home. Use this call as the chance to discuss your colleague’s family, their latest plans, any news – and even to get advice on the best new appliance, present ideas, new movie to watch! These are all the things that you might not even realise you are missing from not being in an office.
It is easy to sit down at home, alone and not engage or move or eat for hours on end. This is not good for you! Unlike in the office where you are likely to use the excuse of making tea/coffee for 4-5x colleagues as a welcome break or you will be offered a drink or food by someone else – at home, the onus is on you. Book breaks into your calendar – your lunch break, 15-min admin/email breaks with a drink and 10-min social breaks. Also we recommend being more creative with your food for lunch as it will make you look forward to it more. Rather than just a sandwich, what about: Bagels? Paninis? Wraps? – the possibilities are endless! One of the main rules of lunch should also be to eat AWAY from your desk!
- Switch off
At the end of the day, it is easy to forget the time when no one else is there leaving the office to run for their train. We recommend putting a 30-min reminder in your calendar, giving you time to finish off any outstanding emails, save and close applications and switch off/close your computer. Tidying your workspace will make returning to work the next day a lot nicer experience too. And when you are finished, SWITCH OFF!
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