10 Tips for Working From Home During Covid-19
It’s been a few years since I have worked from home. And after four weeks of finding a new normal, a new way of working I thought I would share some tips. Although nothing quite feels the same as when I previously worked from home. And of course everyone has different priorities, different challenges so these tips come from a parent who is working from home full-time and home schooling an 8 year old in a time where nothing feels normal.
Something which I am trying to remember is that I am lucky to be working from home BUT it’s not simply working from home, it’s working from home during a pandemic. We are dealing with an enormous amount of stress, fear, and guilt, not to mention home schooling George whilst trying to be everything else and do it well. Despite taking on the role of George’s teacher, which I am sharing with Mr H I think it‘s more important to remember that I am not a teacher and that my job isn’t to be his teacher. We’re quite literally all in this together.
I would encourage you to try and adopt healthy practices and be kind to yourself. It’s important to remember to be kind to yourself, maybe more than ever right now. Whether it’s taking a bath, escaping to a quiet room to read a Chapter of a book or like me writing a blog post. It’s all about balance. And with the announcement that lockdown will continue for another three weeks here are my…
10 Tips for Working From Home During Covid-19
1. Get dressed
It would be so easy to fall out of bed and into your home office right? A cup of coffee whilst sat at your laptop, wearing your pj’s sounds good to me. Actually I don’t think it does. I personally recommend getting up and dressed – start your day as you would if you were heading to the office. Of course, wear more casual clothes, those that are appropriate for video meetings or more importantly your mind set. Get up, dressed, take the dog for a walk and then home to your office – all will help to keep you in the right frame of mind.
2. Have a dedicated work space
This was incredibly important to me after listening to the instruction from Boris Johnson to stay home. I enjoy leaving the house to go to my office so finding a space at home that was bright and gave me the privacy to take phone calls and video meetings was a priority. As a family there are now 3 of us at home together 24/7. So that it works for us, and we don’t feel that we are on top of each other we are all dotted around the house. George has his playroom. Mr H chose the bedroom as it’s a large space, bright and free from distraction. As well as being furthest away from the snack cupboard! And I am set up in our morning room, on the dining table where it is bright – although sadly it is closest to the snack cupboard and George with his 100 questions about School work!
3. Establish a routine
We are a family that craves routine. And so right at the start when we began working from home and home schooling we established some form of ground rules. Talked about the importance of sticking to our schedule but also being aware that if George was struggling he must talk to us. We have penciled in a School day of 9 am until 3 pm, he takes a longer morning break and lunch break. And as a morning energiser George and I (if possible) take part in P.E with Joe Wicks – so far that schedule is working really well for us all.
It’s important to remember that you may not be able to stick to a 9 – 5 kind of day. We’re navigating so much right now that where possible we will need to be flexible with our hours and if necessary catch up in the evenings. Which during the Easter break I needed to. It worked well as a lot of my clients were breaking with their families.
4. Exercise daily
Whether it’s P.E with Joe Wicks, your daily exercise, walking your dog or doing laps in your garden I would highly recommend factoring in some form of daily exercise. For me exercise isn’t always about losing weight, it’s about the positive vibes I get from all the endorphins running around my body. In part it’s for my mental health.
5. Take a break
Whether it’s a coffee break, talking to my family or a colleague it’s good to take a break. It would be so easy to sit at your desk for hours on end when the reality is that you would take a break if you were at the office. So, why should working from home be any different. I’m guilty of switching my laptop on as soon as I wake and generally not switching off in the evenings, since lockdown I have tried hard to stick to my working day. If you have a garden be sure to enjoy an alfresco lunch break. I regularly sit in the garden with a coffee, listening to the birds tweeting really helps to clear the mind.
6. Adhere to a normal eating schedule
In truth, I am struggling with this part. It’s so easy to dip into the treat jar. Even though I wouldn’t do this if I was based at the office the reality is that I know it’s there. And we’ve been baking. It’s comfort food. I can feel the cookie jar calling my name and on top of that I have an 8 year old who cannot stop eating. In an attempt to keep on track I have gone to the lengths of making my overnight oats up for breakfast the night before and preparing my lunch in a morning. It’s helping.
7. Tidy away your work station at the end of the day
This is a good one for distinguishing between your working hours and non working hours. We have to put things into perspective. If you leave the office you walk away from your desk and for the most part your tasks. Try to keep that mentality when working from home. I am guilty of not packing away at the end of a day however I always ensure I do so on a Friday ready for the weekend. The distinction between your working day and family time is incredibly important right now.
8. Write a daily to do list
A simple one but when everything changes it’s important to keep certain behaviours the same. This simple task has really helped. It’s how I’ve always worked. As a business we use a tool called Trello, it is an online task manager. We find it really helps to stay on track and focused on the daily, weekly and monthly tasks. I also recommend regular virtual meetings with colleagues (we use Zoom).
9. Keep in touch with colleagues
Most businesses have gone from seeing each other every day to not knowing when they will next meet. It’s important to stay in touch. Whether in a whats-app group chat, daily focus meetings via Zoom or daily catch up calls. It helps keep us all connected. For some, home working is new, alien like and very difficult. Staying motivated can be tough if you’re not used to the isolation. Interaction is good. And whilst we don’t know how long this will last I’ve seen some really interesting concepts for larger teams; keep fit sessions, lunch time quizzes and beer Friday’s.
Perhaps something you haven’t really needed to do before. It has become important for us to discuss our workloads with one another so that we can establish how our working days are going to run alongside taking care of George. I am self-employed and Simon is employed. We are both working full time with George at home for the foreseeable future. It’s daunting and very much unknown. We have to find a way.
Both Mr H and I have roles that require us to be on lengthy conversations without distraction. And so, at the beginning of each week or day we are talking to each other about what time we have free for home schooling or if we need to mark out times in the diary so that we aren’t disturbed. I would also encourage you to talk to your employer and your customers to make them aware that you do have a family at home and that if there is a disruption to understand. Flexibility is key at this moment in time. Every situation is different.
And that’s my 10 Tips for Working From Home During Covid-19. I hope my tips have helped or perhaps given you a different way of approaching your work from home. And please do share any of your tips in the comments. I would love to add more to this list.