In response to the recent COVID-19 outbreak, current UK government guidelines state that ‘businesses and workplaces should encourage their employees to work at home, wherever possible’. The OpenPayd Team put measures in place some time ago in anticipation of this eventuality and we are now into our second month of waking up, sitting at our home working stations and beginning the day.
It can be easy to feel as if the walls are closing in when you are working from home for the foreseeable future. Every day bleeds into the other, with no clear separation between weekends and weekdays and it can be difficult to stay motivated when you are isolated from the rest of your colleagues.
Of course, it need not be like this - there are plenty of things you can do to stay motivated, remain focused and - whisper it quietly - see this new working regime as an opportunity. We have outlined some ideas below and included some activities to keep you fit and healthy in mind, body and soul. There are even a couple of ideas to keep the kids entertained - hey, we’re working from home too so we could afford to make this piece a bit longer than normal.
Remember what it was like when you worked in an office alongside other actual human beings? The rising early and heading into the shower? The daily commute? Now that you’re working from home it is easy to rise later and stay in your pyjamas all day. But there is a better way!
A day without structure can be difficult. Set your alarm, shower daily, get dressed and maybe even indulge in a spot of yoga/exercise to get you ready for the day ahead. The time you save not commuting can be put to good use too - why not read one of those weighty tomes you’ve never had the time for before? Everybody is different, but there can be no doubt that establishing a new routine - one that works for you - is a path to a more productive day.
One of the potential pitfalls of working from home is the lack of clear boundaries between work and leisure. Here, planning your day ahead can be a real help. Write a to-do list of all the tasks you need to complete before the end of the day and attach set times to your activities if necessary.
By building a realistic picture of what you want to achieve during each day, you can put a line through each, move on to the next and, once everything has been done, log off and have some ‘me time’. As well as helping you to maintain focus, imposing deadlines on yourself is a handy way of keeping distractions to a minimum.
Clear, consistent communication is going to be key for the success of remote working. As you’re no longer sitting beside your colleagues, ensuring that you maintain engagement with your team every day is important. Slack and Zoom are obvious tools to maintain communication, but don’t be afraid to pick up the phone - the tone of what is being said can sometimes be lost when it’s just words on a page, so if it’s something particularly important, give your colleague a call.
Following the advice above could end up leaving you so focused on the tasks at hand that you forget to take breaks. It is imperative that you remember to leave your desk at points throughout the day. The fact you no longer commute and are, for the most part, confined indoors means you’re likely to be walking and moving around far more than normal. It would be easy to sit at your desk all day and then move into the living room to sit in front of the TV all night - but it’s so important to remember that sitting for too long is bad for you. Stand, go for a walk around the block (maintaining social distancing of course), jump up and down - maybe see why everyone’s obsessed with Joe Wicks. Do NOT just sit there all day.
Of course, there are many parents who have to try and keep the kids entertained at the same time as working from home! We’ve discovered this great website called www.outschool.com that provides live online classes for those aged 3-18.
There are fun, social and safe learning experiences, including cooking classes, meditation, mindfulness, Minecraft and piano lessons. With more than 10,000 live classes to choose from, there is bound to be something to entertain the children.
Clearly, these are trying times for people around the world. There has never been anything like this in living memory for the vast majority of us. It has been truly amazing to see how people have come together to try and make the best of a bad situation. The clapping in recognition of our carers last night was inspirational and shows how selfless society can be.
There are clearly far more important things than work but - as health workers and carers around the world have shown - some things simply must continue with as little disruption as possible.
Stay home and stay safe.