How to work from home effectively

How have you adapted to the 'new normal'?

Over the past few months we were told by the Government that we must work from home if we could, for our own and others’ safety. The only people who continued to go to their physical place of work were the emergency services, NHS workers, key workers and essential businesses. So, employers across the nation were forced to roll out mandatory working from home procedures and we had to quickly adapt to our new working life.

It may have come as a shock to some of us who had never worked from home before but for others this may have always been an option. Suddenly, we could no longer have a chat in the brew room about last weekend’s antics or enjoy a biscuit from the shared biscuit tin under the desk, the physical social aspect of our roles has been removed and replaced with more digital means. We’ve utilised Zoom calls like never before, both in work and through our weekly family quiz night (although most of us can’t bear the thought of yet another Zoom quiz). We’ve quickly adapted to our ‘new normal’ and we should be proud of how far we’ve come.

Although we’ve missed the social aspects of our roles, there have been many benefits from working from home. In a survey of 7,000 workers last year by FlexJobs, 65% said they’re more productive working from home. We’ve been able to stay in bed longer in the mornings without a lengthy, most probably stressful, commute, which means we’ve become happier and more productive in ourselves. We’ve been able to spend more time with our families, taking our children for walks on our lunch breaks and we’ve enjoyed precious time with our pets. It’s also been easy to step outside for a well-deserved run (or gin) once the clock hits 5pm.

We’re fitter, healthier and happier.

Now, let’s dive into how to get the best out of our new ‘working from home’ lives:

Get into a routine

Just because you can lounge around in your pyjamas all day, doesn’t mean you should. Set a daily alarm, get a shower and get dressed each day. This will help you become more productive so you’re in the right frame of mind to smash your daily to do list.


Avoid feeling isolated

Still, even with our online tools, the enforced and abrupt nature of the transition from an office to a home environment could leave some of us struggling to get accustomed to the change.

Now we’re able to visit friends and family in an outdoor space, it’s vital that you catch up with your loved ones after work to sustain a semblance of normality, even in an unconventional way. Enjoy a BBQ in the garden (under the gazebo if it’s raining) or host a virtual cocktail party on Zoom. It’s not how we’d prefer to socialise but it’s a good way to bond safely and it brings a slight bit of normality back into our lives.


Stick to your working hours

It can be very easy to slip into a routine where you end up working late into the evenings as the boundaries from work to home life are now very blurred.

It’s harder, now more than ever to unplug after work but there are many things you can do to make sure you do this. Set an alarm, once the clock hits 5 make sure to leave your working space, shut down your computer and close the door until you return the following day.

It’s so easy to nip back in for that ‘one last email’ but trust us, DON’T! It can wait until tomorrow.


Create boundaries

Make sure everyone in your family, (children, parents, spouses and anyone else with a key to the premises), knows that when you’re working you’re not available to help cook dinner or engage in everyday chitchat. Shared living spaces can be noisy, so if your workspace isn’t isolated from common areas, you should try some noise-cancelling headphones to signal to others that you’re not to be disturbed and to avoid getting drawn into conversations that are going to distract you.


Create the perfect space

Don’t worry if you don’t have a home office as such, you can create an ad hoc area exclusively for work. It’s important that you have a well-equipped space when remote working because this will ensure the highest levels of productivity and make you feel better mentally.

Instead of working in bed with a laptop, (we know it’s tempting on those miserable, rainy days), try something more substantial. Create a make shift desk with an old table from the garage or utilise your spare room and place your laptop on a pile of books to make sure it’s at eye level. Try sitting in an upright chair like you would at your office desk and be mindful of  your posture, ‘tech neck’ and other ergonomic needs.

To reduce eye strain, you'll want to ensure you have adequate lighting and fresh air in your workspace. Choosing a sunny spot near a large window or set of glass doors would be the most effective. If you need to supplement overhead lighting, consider borrowing a floor lamp or table lamp from another room to create a well-lit desk.

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