In this very challenging time, businesses across the country have found themselves in unchartered territory. But how do individuals still produce the same quality of work in this new environment? With over 20 years of experience, Charlotte Hunter, Founder and CEO of On Site Wellbeing Co, outlines her top tips for homeworking.
Advantages and Disadvantages of working from home
Working from home has its advantages. You’re able to take the dog for a walk, watch a TV soap at lunchtime and avoid commuting. Saving a couple of unpleasant hours each day crammed on a tube is my main motivation for working from home.
On the flip side, there are also disadvantages. Many of us may experience a dip in motivation and working from a laptop can affect your posture and can lead to pain and discomfort. The biggest problem we can encounter is be the lack of social contact. Having a chat at the coffee machine, asking a colleague for advice, even going to meetings all form part of a very important element of being human – social interaction.
We are, by nature, social creatures. And social isolation has been shown to have an effect on us both physically and mentally. Increased anxiety and depression, disturbed sleep, a reduced immune system and being more susceptible to illness are just a few of the issues we may face.
But the good news is, if you manage things in the right way from the start, you can benefit from all the positive aspects of working from home whilst minimising the negative impact. Of course everyone is individual and may work well in different ways. But, from my experience, here’s some tips for a new homeworker in finding the right way.
1. Create a good routine from the start
- Get dressed! Sounds obvious I know, but there can be a huge temptation to jump out of bed and get started straight away. Or, lounge about until 8:59 leaving no time for your usual morning routine. Come 11am you still haven’t brushed your teeth and everything feels off kilter.
- Define your working hours. If you usually do a 9 – 5 at your workplace and this works for you, stick to it. If you work better early in the morning and are able to choose your hours, then start early and finish early. Don’t over work or under work just because you can. Keeping a routine will keep you be more productive in the long run. Make sure you are not working an hour here and an hour there, squeezing other household or personal things in between. This will only serve to fuse your work time with home time making it harder to switch off and get the balance right.
- Remove all distractions. If you find yourself being bombarded and distracted with message notifications, turn your phone Wifi off (you can turn it back on during your lunchbreak). Or turn off specific app notifications in your phone settings.
- Define your space. It’s really important to try and keep your work space separate from your living space. If you have a spare room, use this as your temporary workspace and close the door at the end of the day. If you don’t have a spare room or home office, you need to be a little more creative and disciplined.
2. Eat well and drink plenty of water
- Stay hydrated. Start the day with a full glass or bottle of water on your desk as a visual reminder to keep hydrated. It’s easy to forget and go a few hours without water, only reaching for it when your thirsty. It’s recommended to drink around 1.5 litres a day (6-8 glasses) so you’ll need to get yourself regular refills.
- Plan meals and snacks. Plan out each day’s food at the beginning of the week so you don’t end up eating emergency junk food. Try some healthy, quick and easy to make lunches such as a tuna salad, an omelette or soup with a slice of seeded bread. For snacks, try a handful of nuts and some dried fruit.
- Take a lunchbreak. As tempting as it is to eat lunch at your desk, doing this can decrease productivity. Skipping lunch will decrease your body’s ability to digest food and make you feel more exhausted at the end of the day.
3. Keep your body in check
- Assess your workstation set up:
- Place the monitor directly in front of you, about 45 to 50cm away from you and keep your forearms approximately horizontal. Make sure your eyes are the same height as the top of the screen. Raise the screen if needed by placing a box/some books underneath.
- Keep your wrists straight when keying and position the mouse within easy reach, so it can be used with the wrist straight.
- Avoid glare, or bright reflections.
- Sit upright and close to the desk with your feet comfortably flat on the floor.
- If your chair doesn’t have a lumbar support, you can use a pillow or a rolled up towel to support your spine in a neutral position.
- Move regularly. Stand up at least once every 2 hours. Roll your shoulders, stretch your neck, back and legs, walk around the room or march on the spot to get the blood pumping. Don’t worry no one is watching!
4. Connect with others at work
Just because you’re working from home, it doesn’t mean that you can’t maintain and cultivate relationships. When you, or your colleagues are feeling particularly stressed, it becomes even more important to do.
- Arrange a daily check-in call with some of your colleagues. Just asking a simple “How are you?” can help people feel valued and appreciated.
- Coffee break. If you normally have coffee with your colleagues in the workplace, do the same at home. Agree a particular time that you’re going to meet, grab your coffee and choose a video platform to have coffee together.
- Arrange a coffee morning. With video conferencing and group meetings, this has never been easier. Agree a set time and have a
- group online meeting with a cuppa, and cake if you fancy!
- Try a workplace challenge. You might not all be in the office together but that doesn’t stop you challenging each other to get and stay healthy.
Working from home can see a daunting task if you’re not used to it. But with time, creativity and a little bit of discipline it can be a great experience and one in which you can enjoy! We are now hosting Working From Home (Successfully) webinars to help you and your staff make the most of it. If you’d like to know more then Contact Us or call us on 0333 900 0212.