In only a few weeks, the working culture in the UK has shifted dramatically. For the first time, the majority of (non-key worker) employees are working from home and trying to find a new sense of routine in these extraordinary times.
Today, we’d like to share with you five of our Golden Rules, to help new home workers find their feet.
1. Find a routine that works for you
Having a regular routine for your working day brings countless benefits, and the structure it provides can ensure you’re performing tasks to the best of your ability. However, it may well be that your working from home routine doesn’t perfectly match your regular office-based schedule of the past… and there’s no reason why it should.
Being based at home, you may be sharing your living and working space with other family members and children, dealing with noise threats from neighbours, or simply finding that your productivity hits its peak outside of your usual office hours. Because of all of these elements, don’t be afraid to experiment with your routine and establish patterns that suit you and your circumstances, no matter how unconventional they may seem: there’s no ‘right way to structure your day. The most important thing is that you’re accomplishing tasks in a way that works for you, taking into account your own unique situation.
2. Maintain communication throughout the day
Just because you’re physically separated from your employers and colleagues, doesn’t mean that the means of communication between you all have to rapidly change as well. In addition to typical (and often more formal) methods of communication, such as phone calls and emails, we’re living in a time where various technological platforms allow us to communicate with ease, in new and creative ways.
Platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Wurqi allow colleagues and departments to collaboratively plan and complete projects, conduct meetings and chat back and forth in real time. It’s incredibly important to maintain communication and remain integrated into your professional circles when working from home; not only in terms of productivity, but in keeping up team morale as well. You may no longer be able to grab a coffee and catch up during your break, but establishing a minor war over who can find the wittiest meme or GIF for any given situation has to be the next best thing…
3. Establish an appropriate working space
One of the most commonly reported challenges of home-based employment is people struggling to maintain a sense of separation between their working environment and their living and socialising environment. Finding and designating an appropriate working space can make all the difference: it doesn’t have to be a super professional set-up complete with all the latest tech and a state of the art coffee machine worth more than your monthly salary, as social media has primed us all to believe, but simply somewhere that feels right for you.
Set up your base camp, and do your best to keep this area primarily for your work hours: doing so will help you maintain a sense of separation between different areas of your life, and help you step into and out of ‘work mode’ as required. Think about the equipment and adjustments that will help you maintain your wellbeing, any threats of disturbance and how to combat these, and of course, establish your go-to novelty mug for those all-important cups of tea.
4. Set realistic expectations and do your best to stick to them
Another key area that new home-workers may struggle with is maintaining productivity and motivation. Getting used to new methods of working can sometimes leave us feeling a little lost and without purpose, and once your mind has encountered this field of thought, it can be really tough to pull yourself back out of it again.
People are often quick to tell us that setting goals and ambitions is the key to combatting these troublesome feelings, but really, the key is in making sure the targets you’re setting yourself are realistic. Make a list of all the things you’d like to accomplish over a set period of time: perhaps a day, or a working week. Then, think about how best to spread these evenly over the time you have available. If you’re really struggling on any given day, it’s absolutely okay to revise your plans: there’s no harm in moving things around or seeing if a particularly daunting task can be broken down into any smaller component parts. Take pride in the things you accomplish, and most importantly, treat yourself to some new highlighters to make crossing those pesky tasks off your list all the more satisfying.
5. There’s no need to jump straight in and burn yourself out; pace yourself and play the longer game
Finally, I think it’s safe to say that we’re living through difficult times at the moment. When we’re faced with uncertainty, it’s human nature for us all to rush and try and find our place in it all, to make something concrete of ourselves in response to all that’s up in the air. The novelty of shifting to working from home and these changing times mean that many people have really thrown themselves into their work. They’ve endeavoured to be their very best selves while all of this is going on, and whilst this is no doubt admirable it’s potentially not as productive as it seems in the grand scheme of things…
It’s important to remember that this situation could be going on for a good while, and if there’s one piece of take-home advice you should remember, it’s this: pace yourself. There’s nothing to be gained from really pushing yourself during these early weeks and mentally and physically burning yourself out. This process is going to be a test of endurance, so as much as your desire to do good is important, it’s equally as vital to cut yourself some slack and be kind to yourself. Give yourself some time to adjust to your new surroundings and circumstances, even if it means taking it a little easier than your usual pace of work. In these uncertain times, the very best thing you can do is remain mindful of the bigger picture, and make an effort to prioritise your own mental and physical health.
(Article by Astriid, the charity using its online platform to pair chronically ill workers with inclusive employment opportunities that match their talents and requirements)