Working from home for the long-term is a very real prospect
6 months ago everyone who could work from home in the UK, started doing so, without a clue of how long it would last.
Not long after I wrote a blog to share some of the pitfalls associated with working from home (i.e. you work longer hours than your office based colleagues!), along with plenty of hints and tips for making it work for you.
You can take a peek at that one here >>> Getting Used To Working From Home
Times have certainly moved on from then, and I felt it was time for an update.
Without the right strategies in place, you can become ripe for burnout, and none of us want that!
We had a little taste of the office again
For a short while, people were returning to the office, even if only on a part-time basis, and they were loving it. Human connection and office banter was restored, along with escaping the kitchen table (and the house) for a while.
But it was short-lived, and as UK COVID-related restrictions kick in for the autumn/winter, it does appear as though we’re in this for the long haul. Working from home is here to stay for an enormous amount of people.
I can hear the groans country-wide!
But despair not, there are advantages to be had.
We have already proven we are creative and resilient
Throughout the pandemic I’ve worked with teams and individuals, helping them adjust to the challenges they faced in their unique circumstances of working from home, often with young children in tow.
It’s undoubtedly been one of the toughest professional experiences for many
But let me tell you, when the chips are down, people really know how to step up and get creative. The strategies they have come up with for surviving (maybe even enjoying) long-term working from home are awesome and I wanted to share these with you.
Working from home – the very real challenges
Yes, some people thrive working from home (myself included), but for many people, there is a whole range of challenges – practical and emotional. Such as …
- Wondering if you have the right tech and whether the wi-fi will be reliable enough
- Struggling with physical space and the furniture you need – offices have ergonomic chairs for a reason
- Groaning every time someone knocks at the door and disturbs you – when there’s a sign of life, people will always knock – and disruptions like this massively reduce your productivity
- The general noise and interruptions that goes with working from home, whether that’s other family members doing the same, traffic noise, or the spin of the washing machine
- That loss of connection and the office banter which can have a massive impact in so many ways, particularly our mental health
- The fact that the office is always now there, winking at you from the corner, not allowing you to fully switch off
- Feeling like you’ve lost your home, your sanctuary, and work has somehow invaded every element of your personal space
- The routine that an office life previously helped structure has completely disappeared, and that makes you less organised and productive
- The endless video calls – it was OK to start with, but now….not so much – back to back video calls are definitely exhausting and can negatively affect your performance
- And the big one, backed up by studies galore, when you work at home you work longer hours – with the boundaries blurred it’s really easy to start earlier and keep on going. And going.
The list goes on. The point is that there’s much we miss about the office, and it’s easy to fall into the common pitfalls associated with working from home.
9 ways to make working from home work for you
Taken straight from those people who have adjusted and found ways to make it work for them this year during the most challenging of times.
Stay Well Connected
Loneliness and isolation are the 2 biggest complaints I hear and it can translate into low mood and motivation. It’s really important to integrate that sense of connection into your daily routine. For example, a phone call with a co-worker before you start the working day which simulates that desk chat you would have as people arrive at the office. It’s easy to get focused purely on the task at hand, but we are social creatures – don’t neglect the connection factor.
Re-create The Office Banter
On the same theme, people report that all their contact with co-workers has become very task focused. They are missing the chit-chat that can come with sitting in the same space or bumping into someone whilst making a drink. I’ve seen teams introduce things like virtual team activities and coffee breaks – after an initial awkwardness, they are really working to bring back the fun and laughter of the day.
Define Your New Routine
If the lines get blurred between work and home life, then things can get really tricky for you (and for your family). Humans need some level of structure and routine to perform at their best and be efficient. So deciding on a work routine that works for you, your home and your work colleagues is key. Decide on something, tell people, and give it a try. You can always change it. But avoid having nothing – you will end up working longer.
Mark The Start And End Point Of The Working Day
This has been a game-changer for some of my clients. The working day is usually framed by some form of routine or commute and it prepares you for the next part of the day. Doing something that marks those points in the day and gets you mentally prepared to switch-on or switch-off is really valuable. Some people have gone for a short walk to simulate the commute, others use music, or a phone call with a specific person.
Tell Others What You Need
This is really important. When you are working from home it is often the case that others think you are available for … just about anything. A quick chat. Accepting a parcel. Popping to the shop. The list is endless, and clients report constant interruptions. The answer – tell people what’s acceptable and what’s not whilst you are at work. Where you are shouldn’t matter.
Ensure You Take A Break
It’s really easy to keep on going to get the next thing done and neglecting all breaks, more so than when you are in an office. Your brain needs breaks in order to operate at its best and keep you performing well. Without breaks your mind will stay “on work” into the evening. Schedule in your mini breaks, step away from the laptop and take a break.
Sort Out Your Set-Up
We all know that how we sit and work all day hugely affects our physical health. Be sure to the right set-up – your chair, desk, monitor position, light, and so on. If you run your own business consider some investments in this area. If you’re employed, ask for help with this. The day I moved from a dining chair and the kitchen table to an ergonomic chair and desk was life-changing for me.
Working from home often means moving less – when the distance from home to work is just a few steps there is little natural/enforced movement during the working day, so you have to manage this yourself. Movement keeps oxygen and all those essential nutrients circulating, as well as helping to prevent muscle stiffness and injury.
Make It Work For You
We are all individuals, and therefore different things work for each of us. Take the principles and the learnings of others, but implement it in a way that’s right for you. Be unequivocally you in all that you do, and you are much more likely to create your version of success.
I hope some of these tips help you thrive working from home, but if you want more help then don’t hesitate to get in touch – you can book a call here >>> Book A Call