Working from home: A survival guide

Following the Prime Minister’s historic address to the nation on Monday night, where he instructed us to stay at home for the next three weeks, you, along with every worker not deemed essential will now be working from home.

For some, this may sound like a dream come true – spending the day in pyjamas away from the supervision of your senior management team. However, most importantly, you need to remember that you still need to work, and if you don’t find ways to maintain your routine, you may find out that working from home is harder than it seems.

At Platinum Property Partners, our working from home adventure started today, so we thought we’d put a survival guide together to help us cope in these uncertain times.

Get Dressed

You’d be surprised about how much difference this can make to your productivity and motivation.

We are creatures of habit, and wearing your PJs, loungewear or clothes you generally wear for downtime will trigger your mind to relax, deceasing your focus and productivity.

At the very least, you should get dressed as if you were going into the office.

Have a dedicated workspace

I’m afraid to say, setting up on the sofa isn’t going to put you into a work frame of mind. Not only will this affect your ability to work productively, it will negatively impact your ability to ‘switch off’ at the end of the day.

Having a designated workspace will help you manage the merging of your work and home space and keep you focused and motivated.

Take breaks

In terms of your work routine, you should try and keep it as similar to when you are in the office as possible. Taking regular short breaks will help your mind stay focused when you are working, and will prevent loss in motivation.

Schedule in a lunch break, and let your colleagues know you’re taking a break. This will ensure you are able to switch off from work for 30 minutes without being bothered, enabling you to return to the afternoon refreshed and ready to work.

Eat properly

Munching your way through a pack of biscuits does not constitute ‘eating properly’. No judgements though, we’ve all been there.

If you don’t stop to have a fulfilling and nutritious meal you will experience burn out in the afternoon.

You no longer have access to the office canteen or Tesco Express £3 meal deals so you will need to accommodate these additional homemade lunches into your weekly shop, or you will find yourself reaching for snacks.

Communicate

Going from seeing your teams faces every day to having almost no social contact for the foreseeable future is perhaps the most daunting prospect of our current situation.

No doubt, you will still need to collaborate so its worth investing in a video conferencing software that enables you to share screens such as Zoom.

My team has also setup a WhatsApp group so we can send group communications quickly and effectively.

Often, it’s the small things that can make all the difference. We’ve all agreed to use FaceTime rather than a standard call when we need to chat. Just being able to see each other’s faces, albeit briefly will help stave off feelings of isolation and loneliness as the weeks of working from home go by.

Mental Health

The prolonged period of remote working we’re about to endure may have a negative impact on our mental health for various reasons, and its important to be aware of them so we can find ways to combat them.

The social isolation

As mentioned earlier, FaceTime your colleagues wherever possible. Seeing their faces will help you feel less isolated.

Arrange meet-ups with your team where possible, preferably choose an outdoor location such as a beach or a park so you can get some fresh air and Vitamin C, both of which will make you feel happier and healthier.

Listening to music in the background is a really great way to combat the deafening silence of working in isolation. We’re used to the constant pattering of our colleague’s keyboards in an office environment, so ensuring there is background nose will help to make you feel less lonely.

The pressure to appear constantly busy

Because you’re not physically in the office, you may feel pressure to be constantly available or work for longer to prove that you are spending your unsupervised time productively, which can cause stress and anxiety.

Paradoxically, a lot of people are actually more productive at home because they have more autonomy over their work and can complete more complex tasks during their peak productive hours.

Try to have faith in your work ethic and trust that your boss believes you are spending your time productively. Remember to take breaks as you normally would during your time in the office, and clock out at a reasonable time. Your boss will be doing the same.

Difficulty ‘switching off’

When your home environment suddenly becomes your work environment, it can become difficult to separate the two areas of your life, however it is crucial. If you are unable to ‘switch off’, you could develop difficulties sleeping which will accelerate the risk of you suffering burn-out.

Designating a workspace, and turning your laptop off and putting it away once you’ve finished work will help you to manage issues that could arise because of this.

Your mental health is so important. Look after yourself.

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