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The Coronavirus Lock Down & Working From Home

by  David Dwyer on  27/03/2020    314 Reads

Amid the upgraded 'pandemic' status of Covid-19, the public has begun to practise social distancing, disrupting workers, employers and businesses. Where possible, to slow the spread of the coronavirus small businesses, along with giants like Google, Microsoft and Apple are asking their workforce to work from home.

Remote working is not a new concept to many; however, making it a full-time situation introduces new challenges and struggles to the workday.

In a survey done by Buffer (a brand development agency), some of the top struggles reported are unplugging after work, loneliness, communication and distractions. The findings of the survey show that while relatively common, advice on how to work from home effectively would be welcome. 

This is a list of small changes you can make to make working remotely more productive and to make it easier to start work in the morning. 

 

1. Workspace

First things first, a workspace is vital to effectively working from home. Working while laying on the bed, or slumped on the sofa may sound appealing, but you would quickly find it increasingly harder to concentrate and to get into the correct headspace for producing good work. Setting up a working area away from distraction is an excellent way to help stay focused. It allows you to put yourself mentally into 'work mode'. 

While not everyone has the benefit of a home office, setting up a workspace doesn't need to be complicated. Sitting upright at a table or kitchen counter can be all it takes. The goal is to remove yourself from distractions and to create an area that feels less like sitting at home and more like being back in the office.
 

2. Dress to work

While it's tempting to stay in our dressing gowns and big slippers, dressing appropriately can make a big difference in focusing on work. This type of dressing encourages comfort and so can make you believe you should be relaxing. Wearing more formal clothes like trousers and a shirt, however, can make it feel more like going to your pre-corona nine-to-five. 

 

3. New routine

Working from home means we no longer have to commute. While having no public transport or long car journey first thing in the morning seems like a plus, it removes the time of day that we use for the transition between home and work. This disruption of the morning routine can cause many to struggle with merely starting the workday. An effective way of getting back into a working routine to make a new one. Set the alarm, have breakfast or family time and then get dressed and go to work (a.k.a the other room). 

Strict timeframes can also aid in the unplugging after work. You know that once the clock hits a particular hour, that it is time to finish up what you're doing and end the workday. Having another transition activity, such as a shower or walk (making sure to stay safe), can aid in this, by helping to decrease stress and the want to continue working. 
 

4. Boundaries

A new routine and a proper workspace also help to set boundaries to those around you while working during the coronavirus epidemic. They act as a reminder to those in your home that you're at work and shouldn't be disturbed unless necessary.
 

5. Communication

As with many aspects of life, communication is vital. A good starting point with the shift from office to home is a conversation with your manager. 

In the workplace, it is often easy to raise questions, request help or have a catch up with our bosses. Regular discussions with our manager can be hugely beneficial, whether this is as a team or one-on-one. These conversations can help you to gauge where you are in terms of work, what the manager expects out of your time at home and the current status of the company and its workload during the pandemic. Keeping informed and on track leads to time being used more productively, especially for those new to working at home.

Regular conversations allow us to set clear targets and goals and stay connected to the workplace while out of the office but importantly can be an excellent chance to see if the company can provide or reimburse any expenses for making the transition to working at home more comfortable.
 

6. Don't let the isolation isolate you

Recreating the office environment is a good option for those not used to, or struggling to cope with, working alone. There are many online tools to help bring the office into our homes, from Skype to Zoom, there is no shortage of messaging and software to get your team together on a video call. 

These programmes bring people together to raise both morale and productivity. In the office, not every minute is spent staring at a screen, we share information, discuss ideas and chat with coworkers. Communication is what makes the office less isolating and builds relationships; this is why recreating the same type of working environment can combat loss of focus and loneliness while working from home.

Small things like making space, keeping communication flowing and having a daily routine can help you make working remotely more effective. During this pandemic, it is easy to become stressed and worried, especially when continuing to work in isolation. But while working from home, we can still live our lives; face-to-face communication online and the right split of our working and everyday lives can keep us to feel connected, productive and grounded until the normalcy we are used to returns. 

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