Working from home is more than adorable puppies, questionable clothing choices and bingeing Tiger King Joe Exotica. Here’s what you need to know to stay on track while working away from the office…
While many of us have worked from home at some point, either with sick kids or a weather-related office/site closure, for most of us transporting our entire work life into our home is a new (and somewhat daunting) experience.
Initially it seems like a dream come true. Working in your pajamas, cuddled up with your adorable pooch on the sofa, Tiger King playing on your iPad in the background (for ambient noise of course, you would never actually be watching it when you’re supposed to be working!).
But often after only a short time, the perks can get drowned in the sea of additional challenges this new working environment brings.
Never mind that said adorable pooch adorably ended your Zoom meeting when he adorably jumped on your laptop. Never mind that you accidently shared your morning bathroom habits with everyone on the conference call. And never mind that the grossly overloaded NBN took 3 hours to send your project proposal. Your home also has its own set of work that needs to be done. Eventually you must wash your week-old pyjamas. Eventually you will have to do the dishes you made from lunch. And yes, eventually you need to find out if crazy, old Joe Exotica gets his comeuppance in the end.
Working from home isn’t just about ensuring continued productivity, it’s also about finding and keeping a work/life balance. So, here are our top tips for staying sane while we navigate this new coronavirus work landscape.
- Communication, communication, communication!
Keep your regular meetings (via phone/video conferencing) – weekly team catch ups, monthly performance appraisals, project updates, task reports – whatever you would normally do in the workplace, keep doing these from home.
- Designate a work area
Where possible, set up a designated work-space similar to your normal office environment. Of course you should feel free to decorate it how you wish (there’s no corporate style guide restrictions here!) but be careful to keep the backdrop to your video meetings appropriate and respectful – you’re there to share project updates not your precious bits.
- Establish a routine
Routines may sound boring, but they actually help reduce decision fatigue by reducing the decision-making energy required to get through the items on your To Do list. The core activities each day should remain more or less the same. For example: Wake up. Coffee. Exercise. Breakfast. Review your goals and tasks for the day. Start work on most important tasks. Emails. Teleconference. Lunch. Return phone calls. Work on urgent but less important tasks. Emails. Review day and plan priorities for the next day. Finish work. Dinner. Play. Sleep. With a routine, there’s no deciding whether to do the activities or not. You just do. Why do you think Steve Jobs wore the same clothes every day?
- Set Boundaries
Your routine should include regular working hours so you can set (and communicate) clear boundaries for when you are and aren’t available. Just because you can work from 11pm to 4am doesn’t mean you should. While working from home can offer more flexibility, you still need to be available during the hours required by your workplace, industry, customers and boss. Likewise, you also need to have a ‘clock off’ time to prevent your work life seeping into your personal life.
Setting clear boundaries ensures both sides of your life are getting your full attention.
- Expect Distractions
Distractions happen. Distractions happens in traditional offices. How many birthday morning teas and friendly co-worker pop-ins did you have to navigate while still trying to keep your day on track? The distractions at home will look different – a tantrumming toddler, a hungry puppy, a blocked toilet – expect things to come up and plan to spend some extra time on work tasks to make up for when they do.
- Stay Heathy
It’s easier to fit incidental exercise in at normal workplace (think stairs instead of the lift, parking your car further away from the office etc) and it’s one of the first things to go when we start working from home. While it’s more challenging with the coronavirus social restrictions, it’s not impossible to fit a little extra movement into your day at home. Try standing up and walking around when you’re on the phone. When you get up to make a coffee, walking around your house first. And of course, don’t forget to include a few good old fashioned desk stretches.
Final note on this topic: to stay sane, stay social. Phone a friend, join a Facebook group, post some photos of your inventive working from home outfit (check out wfhfits on Instagram for inspiration!) Isolation can be tough so reach out and do it often.
TP human capital has been working with our clients to develop employee support solutions that fit with their new workplace arrangements. Talk to us today about ways you can stay connected with your employees and continue to support their health and wellbeing during this challenging time.
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