Choosing to work from home and having no option due to COVID-19 restrictions are two very different things. Which is why there are now countless employees in the UK experiencing a wide range of emotions about being part of a ‘digital workplace’.
For some, it could be the realisation of a long-held ambition to work from home, with all the flexibility and self-management that brings. No distractions from office politics and no commute!
However, many others could be daunted if not distressed by suddenly being thrust into a dispersed team. Particularly if the shift to remote working came swiftly and ‘out of the blue’. Working from home is not everyone’s ideal scenario. Especially if you also now have bored children off school to distract you, and all the additional worries Coronavirus has whipped up.
So, here are some valuable tips on working from home, when the decision was not yours.
1. Set up your workspace
This first bit of home working advice could possibly be the most challenging, but important. Carve out an area that is your designated workstation.
Putting your laptop on the kitchen table amidst arts and crafts clutter or on your lap near the TV could provide too many temptations. Preferably, find a quiet corner of your bedroom, a section of your dining area, the spare room or even a cosy shed if you have one!
This gives you a way to transition between work and home life.
2. Organise your time
This is another way of making remote working seem more natural and palatable. Stick to your normal workday routine. If you normally start work at 9 am, then start then. If your first task at the office was always to put the kettle on, then do that!
Incidentally, if you didn’t go to work in pyjamas we suggest you don’t do that now either!
It’s all about training your brain to become ‘all business’, and getting ready to face your work tasks in the right frame of mind.
That needs to be maintained all day too, including avoiding social media or the television, which can eat into your productivity in an alarming fashion. If you use social media during breaks, close the tabs during your working blocks to avoid distractions. And make sure you complete your daily to-do-lists, or it will lead to a longer list tomorrow.
3. Take breaks
After saying that, another danger of remote working is letting your ‘to do’ list consume your whole day and evening. It’s hard to switch off when you have projects waiting for you on your device.
It’s important to maintain a work-life balance to stay fresh and well-rested. People find themselves to be more productive when working in longer blocks, without interruptions. Take scheduled short breaks to stretch, rehydrate and give your brain chance to ‘reboot’ – and, if you need to do the washing, do it in your breaks. If you are currently not allowed outdoors in your country due to restrictions, take time to exercise or read a book.
4. Take care of yourself
One of the reasons many people prefer to work in an office is because they enjoy the chance to collaborate and communicate in the ‘real’, not virtual, realm!
Remote working can lead to feelings of isolation and even loneliness. Or feeling out of the loop and underappreciated. Guard against this by using all communications channels available to you and checking in with your line manager frequently.
Don’t just share ‘data’ with your colleagues and supervisors either. Replicate the head office chat with some light-hearted social interaction online.
Most importantly of all, make sure you flag up when you are struggling with either work issues or more emotive areas. Your line manager is there to offer support and guidance, so don’t hesitate to ask for it. Address any roadblocks or pitfalls swiftly. If you need positive affirmation and reassurance, don’t hesitate to flag that up too!
Technology can be your friend, not just your taskmaster. There are various ways to set up video links, including conference calls that involve whole project teams scattered across multiple locations.
Who knows, you may enjoy working from home so much that being part of a digital workforce becomes preferable, not just acceptable!