With coronavirus confining many of us to our homes to work this has changed the way many of us work. I have started a new job since lockdown began, I have moved away from being a Rights of Way Officer to now being an Access Field Officer, doesn’t sound like much change but there’s quite a drastic difference.
Old job was based in an office with site visits 2-3 days a week with the flexibility to work from home when I wanted, my new role is home based permanently with occasional meetings and site visits. This has turned into permanently working from home due to coronavirus but I guess it’s a good way to settle into the new way of working whilst the nation does the same.
Some of you will be heading back to your normal work place this week with the new lifted restrictions although I’m sure home working will be the new norm for many of us with employers realising they can save the cost of office rent. So as this is now my permanent way of working I thought it was a good time to share my tips for home working with many of you that may not be used to this, so here are my top 5 tips.
1. Make a new routine
This may all feel a little strange but to keep yourself being productive at work you will need a new routine compared to your usual working day. Make sure you set an alarm and don’t fall into sleeping for most of the morning, you’ll feel better in the coming weeks if you have weekday routines for your working days. I set an alarm so I get up early enough to walk the dogs and have breakfast before starting work. I’m far more productive in the morning if I get out of the house for a quick 20 minute walk compared to rolling out of bed and into the office chair. Make the most of having the whole day at home and work when you feel most productive, depending on your role and policies most home based jobs are flexible, this means that you can crack on and get things done first thing then take a long lunch break to exercise or get the shopping done. You can even take this into the evenings if you’ve got something on during the day, a doctors appointment, the farrier coming or just don’t feel like getting up for once you can make the hours up in the evening.
2. Remove distractions
Whatever these may be for you, if phones and tablets next to you are too much temptation to end up endlessly scrolling during work time then make sure to put them out of reach. For me the worst distractions are the animals, from the cat wanting fuss to the dogs demanding walks, I have to make sure they’re all fed and exercised before I start work or else there’s no chance I’ll get anything done. Make sure that when you’re working you remove as many background distractions as possible, whilst many of us find silence unbearable so the radio is a must but having the TV on in the background is only going to draw you back to the sofa eventually.
3. Keep in touch
Keep in touch with your team of colleagues at work and don’t let family catch ups slide either. Our team has a once a week team meeting so we can all keep up to speed with what each of us has done that week and what meetings etc we have planned for the coming week, this meeting also includes a quiz to keep spirits up. We also have a twice weekly meetings with the entire organisation so that we know what each department is getting up to, all of these meetings are virtual and hosted as video calls which is a nice social aspect of home working. Facetiming the family and having zoom calls for a good old fashioned pub quiz mean that we can all feel part of a group and tackle the isolation we are facing during lockdown.
4. Create work space
Having a designated space for work is so important for keeping work time and home time separate. I know not everyone has the luxury of having a dedicated study room, me included, I have a work space in the living room under the stairs. I would love to have an office room but my tiny little cottage only covers the basics so I have to work with what I’ve got. I’m lucky to have what I do and I make sure to make the most of it. This space is for working only so I move away for breaks and make sure it’s all switched off after work so there’s no flitting between the evening TV drama and getting the last bits done at work.
5. Get Outside
Make sure you get out of the house, whether that into the garden or out for a walk/run/bike make sure you don’t feel trapped at home (always adhering to social distancing guidelines and abiding by isolation if required). I get out with the dogs once a day and it breaks up the monotony of being at home for 7 weeks now, I know personally without the joys of getting outside I would have gone mad by now. Getting out into the fresh air not only has benefits for our physical health but it is essential of maintaining our mental well being, keeping fit is important but taking care of our mental health is essential.