Work from home, don’t live at work

Just as we all started getting used to a return to the office and seeing other humans that we don’t actually live with… we get asked to work from home again, if we can.

It is fair to say that the reverse on this advice has been a little tough to take. And not just because we’d spent time and money-making offices Covid-safe. Let’s face it, another six months working from home (WFH) – this time in winter – is quite daunting. Less opportunities to go for a walk or sit in the sun, having to turn the heating on – and simply having seen enough of your four walls and their other inhabitants.

There has been much talk of the impact, both physically and mentally of working from home, so here are our top tips for making the best of it.

  1. Routine

Decide (with your employer of course) on your working hours. The removal of a commute may give you the flexibility to to start or finish a bit later to help with homelife. Then stick to them.

Build a commute-replacement activity into your day (I walk the dog instead of the interminable drive into the office). Take proper breaks. And when you finish for the day make sure you actually stop.

  1. Workspace

Tempting as it is to slouch on the sofa, a desk or table is better for both concentration and your posture. And preferably choose a location away from distractions such as the TV and the fridge. If it’s not possible to have a dedicated space that is permanently set up, then try to clear your stuff away each night to bring an end to the working day. Remember – you are WFH not living at work.

  1. Socialise

In normal times we probably see more of work colleagues than we do of our families so it is natural to miss them. And while the novelty of Zoom quizzes and catch-ups has worn a little thin for most, it is still important to maintain contact with your work pals. Weekly catch-ups – whether in work time or with a glass of wine in an evening – or fun WhatsApp groups where you can rant about the latest complicated lockdown rules can all replace the office gossip.

  1. Boundaries

Yes, WFH is more flexible so you can let the dog out, turn the dishwasher on etc, but if there are other people in the house during the day they need to understand you are working. Discuss your needs and the dos and don’ts with them and if all else fails put a ‘Keep Out’ poster on the door to your workspace.

  1. Be kind to yourself

None of us expected to spend the majority of 2020 WFH and it can be tough. But a good employer will understand if you need to take the odd break, have a rant and that on some days you might not be as productive as normal. So don’t beat yourself up

Focus on the benefits – no commuting, fewer decisions to be made on your work wardrobe and much smaller tea and coffee rounds…

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