Have a Separate Workspace
Not always possible, we know, but it is definitely best to try to separate your workspace from the rest of the household. Some may be lucky enough to have a spare room that can be converted into a temporary office, but even if not, making a dedicated “work area” (even if that is just a small desk in the corner of a dining room) is a good idea.
It should be away from areas you go to relax, and should be made clear to others in the household that it is your workspace, designated for work during work hours.
If you don’t have a spare desk to use (and don’t want to buy one), try to at least work somewhere that feels like your office setup, such as a kitchen table or breakfast bar. Trying to work from a laptop on the sofa might feel great for a while, but it probably won’t be the most productive work arrangement.
Stick to a Routine
It is all too easy to slip into a routine of getting up a bit later than you normally would if you were going to the office, taking longer over breakfast, taking longer for lunch in front of the TV. Equally, it is easy to keep working for an extra 30 minutes or an hour at the end of the day, when normally you would finish at 5:30.
Create a routine that closely mimics your normal office routine and stick to it. Start work at the same time every day, take lunch at the same time and for the same length of time as you normally would. It is also a good idea to schedule some time outside during the day, even if that is taking the dog out for a walk or grabbing a takeaway coffee somewhere. If you don’t living and working in the same space all the time can begin to feel oppressive.
Your employer should also know your schedule, especially for those people for whom working remotely is an unusual or new thing. If you normally wouldn’t receive or see work emails after 6pm, you shouldn’t be expected to respond to an email from your boss at 8pm, just because he/she isn’t used to this home working situation.
Don’t Let Yourself Feel Isolated
Working from home or remotely can sometimes feel isolating, a feeling that could be even stronger if you are self-isolating because of Coronavirus. Your employers may already have some collaborative working solution set up for the situation (such as Monday.com or Slack) which include chat functions, but even if they have, there is nothing to stop you setting up a group chat somewhere with those colleagues you would normally interact with each day.
If you are the manager of a team that is working remotely, something as simple as sending out a morning “How is everything?” email can make all the difference, both to productivity and to lessen the feeling of isolation. Make sure your team or employees know they can call or email you if they need something.
Get The Right Tools
Having a work setup that is as similar to your office setup as possible will make working from home so much easier, and help you to feel like you are still able to do the best job. If you are being forced to work from home by your company (by Coronavirus or for any other reason), find out what they can provide for you (a computer, cellphone, etc) or what they will pay for. This might even extend to paying for a broadband upgrade, or covering any additional utility expenses (electricity use for example).
Get Your Equipment Prepared
If you are expected to use your own equipment when working from home, make sure you have everything you need in terms of software, login details and tools, and then make sure that your computer is running well.
No matter if you are using a Windows PC or a Mac, check for updates, clear out some junk and ensure you have online security in place. This last might be provided for you by the company software you will use, but even so, make sure you have some good antivirus software installed and that it is up to date.
Do all of this BEFORE you begin working from home, so that when you start you are not met with any nasty surprises. If your home PC can’t run the particular company software, you will have time to let your boss know, and hopefully time to find a solution before you have to leave the office.
Make sure you understand how to use your computer efficiently. Brush up on some skills if you are going to be using a computer that you are not used to using for work.
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Dress for Work
This might seem like a strange thing to say. Surely, one of the benefits of working from home is being able to do it in your robe or joggers? But believe me when I say that you will almost certainly feel more like you are at work if you shower, get dressed and even put shoes on each day. And feeling like you are at work helps address some of the other potential problems above (sticking to a routine, etc.,)
Ok, so maybe you don’t have to put on the suit, shirt and tie you normally wear to the office, but jeans and a comfortable shirt? Yes!
It becomes part of the routine, and when you change into your joggers as T-shirt later, it will feel like you have left work and can more easily relax. Again, this might sound strange, and a little bit hokey, but something as simple as getting dressed each day can really make a difference to how well you work, and how you feel about working from home.