Following the government’s call for people in the UK to work from home unless their job absolutely cannot be done from home, there are a lot more people suddenly setting up remote working desks in home offices, living rooms, spare bedrooms and kitchens across the country. As a digital agency that has supported our team working at home when they’ve needed to – due to health reasons, childcare, or even simply team members relocating to far flung regions of the country – we’ve had some experience in working together and remaining a strong team that produces excellent results wherever we are.
We’re here to help, no matter your situation, but today, we want to share these tips with you – both practical ones and ones for your personal wellbeing:
The easiest way to check in with your team is via a quick update every morning. Whether this goes via email to a manager, on a group Slack channel, on a WhatsApp group, a conference call among a small team on Whereby or Zoom, or elsewhere – choose whatever works for your team best. This only needs to take 5 minutes from someone’s day, but it ensures that everyone knows where everybody else is in their work and is motivated ready to start the day.
At this particularly difficult time in the world, we’re also taking this chance to check in on everyone’s wellbeing too – making sure that they have the chance to vent any concerns they have in a safe space and get support where needed.
When you don’t have a team nearby to motivate you, having a to do list will help you be more productive, as will setting deadlines. You need to be your own manager when you’re working at home, so treat your work as though it has a deadline, even if it doesn’t – otherwise it might never get done. This is an excellent way to start off your day, whether before or after checking in with your team.
Normally when we go out to work, entering your specific work space gives you a different state of mind. Where you work is not normally where you play. It’s important to replicate this at home where you can, finding a quiet space free from distractions where you can focus on your work is key.
Choose a space that’s comfortable and separate from the rest of the house if you can, somewhere you can close the door if you need to – this might be a spare bedroom, a dedicated home office, even a space in the garage if need be. Make sure you have a comfortable chair as well as a good desk or table that’s at the right height so you’re not straining your neck or eye muscles, and good lighting to prevent headaches.
It’s only too easy when you’re at home to notice that load of laundry you wanted to put away or that programme you wanted to watch on TV. Just like you’ve set up your dedicated workspace, set up a dedicated brain space for work too. If you know that you’re likely to get distracted by something, like that load of laundry sat in the basket in the bedroom, do that task at the start of the day before you get to work or plan a break, either at lunch time or at another time of day when you normally experience a slump in work (we often find this is in the middle of the afternoon). You’ll likely experience a new burst of motivation once this is done later on!
We need fresh air more than ever right now! Get out into your garden or outdoor space as often as you can, and if you’re limited in that respect, use your one outdoor form of exercise per day wisely. Even if you can’t get outside, stick a workout or yoga video on YouTube, clear a space in front of your TV, and get the endorphins flowing. It’s been proven that exercising helps you to be more productive and feel more motivated, and it helps your general wellbeing and emotional state to get some fresh air every now and then.
Many of us are now surrounded by our family all day every day – children on a now extended holiday, partners working from home too. For those with young children, it can be tricky for them to understand that mummy or daddy are working now so can’t play with them. One idea might be to set up a schedule where one parent spends one on one time with the kids for an hour, then you swap over. This might mean starting work earlier or later than usual, taking breaks in places that you don’t usually and making them up later.
If your partner is working at home too, you might want to have a conversation about working spaces – who needs what and when. You might find that you can both work together in the same room, but it might be that your different careers aren’t compatible with co-working, maybe one of you needs to take conference calls while the other needs to concentrate. Figure this out before it causes arguments and create your own spaces.
It’s only too easy to treat this short period of time like a holiday and to spend a little bit longer lounging in bed each day, skipping your regular shower and not brushing your hair. In order to stay better motivated to work and stay in your “working day mindset”, leave your alarm at your regular wake up time, make sure to get up and have a shower, get ready like you normally would, get dressed every morning (whether you have a conference call or not!) and have a good breakfast. This will get you off to a good start every day.
No one can work flat out all day long and not feel burnt out by the end of it. Taking breaks is key to keeping motivation up, but we often forget to do this when we’re at home and don’t have a colleague popping by our desk for a quick chat or asking us to join them in the kitchen for cuppa.
If you struggle to take breaks, set yourself an alarm. When it goes off, get up out of your chair, take 5 minutes to get a drink and a snack, stretch away from your desk, chat with your kids or partner, walk out into the garden – anything to give your mind a bit of a rest and reset.
Just like your morning check in, touching base with your colleagues throughout the day is really important. Not only will you be able to make sure that you’re all up to date with collaborative work and projects, but it will also help your sanity. Chat about normal things every so often, just like you would in the office, but also update each other on your progress, talk about any concerns or struggles you’re having, and continue to work on solutions to them together.
Just like you need to make sure not to get distracted by your usual home activities while you’re working, it’s important not to let your work life encroach on your home life. A good practice for this might be shutting your laptop at the end of the day, switching off your work email notifications on your phone, and doing an activity of your choice to separate your work day from your evening at home – do 5 minutes of meditation out in the garden; take a quick shower; change out of your day time clothes into your loungewear.