So many people are likely to be continually working from home for the first time due to the recent outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19). For others, it will be business as usual. About one in three Australian workers now regularly work from home and it is becoming more popular all the time.
If you are not self-isolating, but have been instructed to work remotely, what is the best way to stay efficient and motivated for each day ahead?
Dress To Impress (Yourself)
For some, the prospect of staying in their PJs all day is the best part of working from home. But actively washing and getting dressed will not only improve your state of mind, it will psychologically prepare you to start work.
Whether you need to change into business attire depends on the type of person you are and the nature of the job you have. Some people find that dressing formally can be helpful, and also useful if they need to dial into a video call last minute.
But for many others, the point of getting dressed is being forced to shower and change out of clothes they associate with rest and sleep, even if it means just changing into jeans and a t-shirt.
Wearing respectable clothes also increases motivation to leave the house. Likewise, changing out of work clothes when you clock off for the day helps your brain to understand the working day is over.
Create Some Boundaries
If you are employed by a company, you’ll probably have set working hours and it’s important to stick to these when working from home. Be ready to start your day at the same time you would normally arrive in your office or workplace, and finish your day at the same time.
Creating work patterns is as important as sleep patterns. You go to bed at a reasonable hour to ensure you get enough sleep and then wake up at your usual time. Once you do something over and over, it becomes a habit, so the first week may feel challenging but eventually it becomes part of your routine.
At the end of the working day, it’s best to switch off your computer and tidy away any work paraphernalia (papers and other items). Space allowing, create a specific space in your home where you can set yourself up for success – ideally with a properly adjusted desk and chair, similar to your work space.
If there are other people in the house, finding a space where you are not likely to be disturbed is essential (remember the Professor Robert Kelly interview in 2017, where his kids burst into the room?)
It is also important not to “over-compensate” because you are anxious about working from home. Some people feel they have to over-communicate when working from home, wanting to be “seen” or overcompensating to ensure people know what they are up to. That’s ok – but don’t go over the top. You know if you are on-task and being productive, you can keep yourself in check.
Get Out and About (If You’re Not Self-Isolating)
Working from home should not mean you are tied to your desk and cooped up all day. Whilst you might not miss your daily commute, it does guarantee that you leave the house at least once during the day.
So get your shoes on, get outside and enjoy the fresh air. A different perspective will also help undo mental blocks and give you a fresh pair of eyes for any tasks you are struggling with.
Getting outside first thing can help you feel like it’s time to work. There is a mental angle for each individual that makes you feel like you are working. If you leave the house and walk around the block you can feel like you’re at work. Find some ways to put in some boundaries otherwise it becomes hard to switch off.
If you cannot go outside, you can even bring the atmosphere of the office with you. Some people thrive on hustle and bustle and like to create a working atmosphere and sound can help with this. There are apps available that can play background noise like the chatter of the coffee shop.
Pick Up The Phone
If you’re working from home, the chances are you will be alone, so you won’t get distracted by colleagues and other general noise. When you’re at work, you’ll be more likely to engage with colleagues but when you’re at home, you can spend the whole day without speaking to anyone which can feel isolating.
Make some time to pick up the phone and have a real conversation, rather than solely relying on e-mail and instant messaging.
It is easy to hide behind e-mail rather than pick up the phone. When you spend the day working on your own, actually calling people and having a conversation can be much more stimulating and indeed productive than a chain of e-mails.
Perhaps at lunchtime, have a chat with someone over video message about nothing in particular. It’s important to make sure you don’t turn into a work monkey. Keep the work flow happening, but at the same time the social connection is also critical, which is much easier to get in person.
Do A Happy Dance
It great to have a routine when you’re working from home, but work should not become too mundane.
Do not stay glued to your screen all day. It’s critical to take regular breaks and get up and move around just as you would in the office.
Research shows that short breaks throughout the day are more beneficial than less frequent, long breaks. Many home workers recommend the Pomodoro Technique, a method of time management which breaks your working day into 25 minutes chunks. Each period of time is then followed by a five minute break.
It is important to stand up, stretch, dance, move around and even go for a short walk to take a break from your work and screen. Being stuck at home without breaks can mean your productivity levels drop, you become more tired and less motivated to complete what you are working on.
Being at home can be challenging. Make sure you look after yourself. If you need more advice, feel free to reach out to the Konnexus team.