With Active’s Marketing Manager, Ruth Conner*
If like so many of us you suddenly find yourself working from home, you may be sharing very similar struggles to me. Hearing the words “mummy, can I…” or “mummy, will you…” while trying to write a blog or have a serious call with a colleague can be a little difficult and take a lot longer than normal.
My hours of work have suddenly changed from 9-5pm Monday and Tuesday, to after 3pm Monday to Friday and anytime on a weekend. However, working for a firm that encourages flexible & home working, the current situation isn’t so different for a number of the Active team, but throw a couple of kids in to home school and having your partner sharing the wifi while they also work from home can make things a little tricky.
Another Teesside firm that hugely promotes home working (and has done since 2014) is the award winning Visualsoft; a friend of Active, we thought we would share with you some of their top tips:
Work Mode vs Home Mode
Set yourself up for a workday, the same as you would working from the ofﬁce and get fully dressed. This will not only help you ﬂip the mental switch from home to work mode, but will ensure you are prepared to attend an impromptu video call with your manager or clients.
Let your family and friends know that whilst you are working from home you are off-limits during your scheduled work hours. This will help make the transition to home life easier, once you ﬁnish your working hours.
Maintain a routine
Our morning commute will often help us feel awake and ready for the day ahead. At home, you may be missing this kickstart so in order to combat this, try jumping straight into your to-do list. Unnecessarily prolonging morning activities such as breakfast can be a real contributor to morning sluggishness and will wear down motivation.
Structure your day into what you would like to achieve each day with realistic goals. Using your Google calendar and reminders can help with this. Most importantly, if you do create a schedule, try and stick to it. This can help combat feelings of being overwhelmed and can help reﬂect on your working day.
We may feel the pressure to be available 24/7 whilst at home and forget to take breaks to fully switch off. However, it is vital to take regular breaks as our brain, similar to any other muscle, needs to rest from time to time.
Going for a short walk, stretching or reading the newspaper before getting back to work can help us refresh our minds and re-energise. Equally, it’s important to stick to your regular routine and take a dedicated lunch break
Keep active and healthy
Working remotely, particularly from home, can tempt us to become resigned to the sofa, whilst getting on with our work. Whilst we do recommend being as comfortable as possible, there are a lot of beneﬁts to keeping active and eating healthily.
Make a conscious effort to stand up every 30 minutes to stretch your chest and extend your spine to reverse the hunched position of sitting. Meal prep lunches, as you would on a working day from the ofﬁce, to resist the temptation of unhealthy snacking throughout the day.
You’re not alone
The prospect of working remotely can be daunting to some and may leave us struggling to get accustomed to the change, particularly when working remotely for a prolonged period of time. Conserving as much normality as possible is important, so make sure to stay in touch with your colleagues to avoid isolation and an impact on morale and productivity.
Opt for phone or video calls where possible to maintain interaction and avoid a feeling of isolation.
Keep up good communication
Clear communication is the key to successful homeworking. Make sure to maintain regular contact with your manager & colleagues and to clarify expectations. Consider also using communication channels such as Slack, Skype or Google Chat to facilitate communication with your colleagues.
Whilst for some of us homeworking is a welcome relief from ofﬁce distractions, for others the familiar environment at home can also pose a major distraction. Depending on the circumstance, you may have a partner working from home also or children to take care of whilst also trying to work. Consider possible distractions and aim to put plans in place to limit these interruptions.
Working from home with children can present itself as a juggling act, but it certainly does not need to be a cause of anxiety.
Social Media and phones form an essential part of some of our work, but try and refrain from using your personal accounts during work hours. Instead play background music or an audio book, as this has been proven to heighten focus.
Working from home, particularly over a longer period of time can be daunting for some and given the distractions, can often lead us to lose motivation. In order to combat this, we advise celebrating your wins.
Focus on all the things you have achieved that day, rather than dwelling on what you haven’t achieved. Again, creating a structure and schedule will help establish your objectives for the day and working towards achieving these. Most of all however – be realistic and not too hard on yourself.
This is a strange situation for everyone, but remember that it’s ‘not forever’. I am sure in the months and years to come, we will look back on this time with love, and feel lucky that we had this amazing time with our children, even if we do long for a little peace and quiet now.
*Huge thanks to Dean Benson at Visualsoft for letting us use their top tips