What do you associate with home? Bed, children, Netflix, housework, gardening. Now what do you associate with the workplace? More than likely it will be a back-breaking office chair coupled with a screen plus a computer, perhaps with a backlog of forms and such on the left. But what happens when the office simply disappears? In a matter of days, our working and home worlds changed seismically.
Working from home, once a novelty for employees with the luxury of having a work laptop they can take with them, has now become the new norm for hundreds of millions around the world. From high-flying CEOs to primary school students taking their first steps into the enriching world of education, we have embraced homeworking in a matter of weeks. But now we have gone from dreary egg-shell coloured rooms to our creature comforts, making them inescapable. Therefore, how do we remain productive despite these comforts looking alluring and attractive to us compared to sitting in front of a screen in an office?
Get the communication right
For starters, it is very important that the communication between you and your boss is crystal clear. Bad communication can quickly lead to issues with colleagues. You should know what is exactly expected from you by your boss, supervisors, and superiors. This communication may have seemed fluid and easy beforehand, but now you are communicating with your boss between a substantial geographical barrier. So, it is important that you get used to communicating virtually using video conferencing apps such as Zoom.
Look after your mental health
Once you get used to it, there are other slight challenges you must contend with. Such as the lack of structure and rise in isolation when working from home, which makes people feel less motivated. As well as focusing on your productivity, you should be paying particular attention to your mental health and focusing on the signs of isolation and loneliness. When you begin to feel lonely, it is important you engage in face-to-face communication, while ensuring you comply with rules and regulations. For example: in the UK you can now visit one extra household while socially distancing. When having a downer, it may be an idea to go out and visit someone such as a friend or relative before returning to your home
Look after your physical self and space
Whilst visiting people once in a while and looking after your mental health is essential, it is important you treat it as a real job. You would never turn up to your real job in pyjamas and with greasy hair, would you? No! It is vital you treat it as a real job, by thinking about your real working environment. If you use two monitors? Invest in a second monitor and HDMI cable. A wireless keyboard and mouse will also help significant declutter your workspace of useless cables.
Do not work in bed with a laptop either, which is both harmful for your productivity and your posture; potentially causing a phenomenon known as ‘tech neck.’ Tech neck is when your neck becomes strained when staring at a screen. Even staring with your neck at the average 30-degree angle is the equivalent of dangling 15 bags of sugar from your neck, imagine the strain on something as important yet fragile as your neck? Therefore, it is important to sit up and backwards in an ergonomic chair whilst typing and working. Also, engage in ways to engage yourself psychologically.
Get exercise and perfect your environment
Perfect ways to engage yourself include a morning coffee and even some afternoon exercise which can put yourself in a good mindset in order to concentrate and work efficiently. Working from home can be even better for concentration too, compared to an office. In a 7,000-person survey conducted by FlexJobs, it was found that 65% found themselves able to concentrate far better compared to working in an office. This makes sense considering there are less distractions such as co-workers tapping you on the shoulder and less background noise in general. The environment at home can be controlled far easier compared to a busy working environment, by simple ways such as turning on some music and closing the door.
These simple tactics can be good; however, it is easy to lose your morale whilst doing so. So, it is important to keep your spirits up: do not worry about the negative headlines; do not worry about elderly loved ones and focus on work. Useful solutions include engaging in as much face-to-face video interaction as possible and talking to people without any particular agenda, such as just having a chat or having a coffee virtually. Even going out and meeting with only one other person and doing the same can help.
Managers play a big part
Managers also play a key role in helping their employees with morale. For example, by arranging to have a chat with your colleagues, not even a meeting. Just a chat with no particular agenda can help build relations between you and them and even make yourself feel better, whilst helping others in this isolating and difficult time. Being an acquaintance – or even a friend – as well as manager is crucial.
As can be seen above and in many physical examples, homeworking is far from ideal. With many distractions as well as the physical isolation which plagues us all, it Is more important now than ever we review the way we work from home and our behaviours. It is crucial to review these as it has substantial effects on our productivity – affecting our income – and our health. Things will return to a new, socially distanced, and more sterilised normal, but for now we must embrace home working in order to keep the economy as a whole chugging along as well as to keep businesses afloat. It will all get better though.