Wherever you sit on the remote working debate – love it, hate it, or simply don’t care – certain global circumstances you may or may not have heard of mean that much of the world’s population has very quickly had to adjust to working from home. With 1000 benefits (no commute, home cooked lunches, saving money) there are nevertheless niggles that come with remote working – but with the right preparation these can be easily avoided to make WFH the greatest thing to happen in the 21st Century.
We don’t mean a suit and tie, but rolling straight out of bed and to your desk without having showered and/or last night’s dribble down your front sets the tone for the rest of the day. Feeling a little sharper than we do in bed isn’t the highest bar in the world to set yourself, but it also doesn’t mean you have to be uncomfortable – we are at home after all. Daytime lounge wear is in, and leggings, cosy jumpers, and oversize sweatshirts still count as clothes, so knock yourself out and take joy in wearing the chunkiest, weirdest, socks in the 9-5 with no judgement from others.
Have a Routine
Whilst flexi-hours are fantastic in theory, when working remotely it can feel like a bit of a roller-coaster if you don’t have a routine. Starting work at different times every day doesn’t allow our mind to adjust to when to switch on and off from the professional you, so try to keep it within a half hour window every morning. Once you’ve established your regular working hours, it’s worth having a few rituals both before and after work to look forward to – whether it’s a coffee in the garden, a book on the sofa, or a yoga class from your living room – following through with similar actions every day can bring a lot of comfort and prepare your mind for the day ahead, or the day you’ve just left behind.
Whether it’s a room or a desk, make sure there is a dedicated space within your home that’s for working and only for working. So not your bed. Or the sofa. When we begin to mingle workspace and personal space it’s a dangerously slippery slope into never quite being able to switch off. Our minds are powerful machines, and particularly fantastic at associating behaviours and energy to place and time, which is a GREAT shortcut if we have a good routine, but terrible if we jump around from place to place leaving our minds are on overdrive all the time. It’s our duty to tell our brains to relax – they deserve it.
It’s a big old world out there and being cooped up indoors without fresh air or contact with any other human can begin to feel claustrophobic very fast. If the weather’s nice, set aside at least 15 minutes before and after work to stretch your legs, and if it’s miserable then make sure to open a window. Set yourself a weekly routine to visit the shops, and once in a while you could even treat yourself to working from a coffee shop.
It can be much easier to take breaks in a physical office – bizarrely being seen to be on a break feels a lot more acceptable than taking a break whilst no one knows. Coming back to your laptop after even the shortest toilet break and seeing a missed call or message can send anxiety spiralling out of control as we worry people will think we’re not working solidly for 8+ hours a day. Remind yourself:
- You don’t care if a message isn’t answered immediately, and actively want your colleagues and managers to take breaks, so why would the rules be any different for you?
- Nobody on earth can do even the most enjoyable task for 8 straight hours – so it makes no sense that we suddenly find the stamina to do this at work.
Reward yourself with some time outs, and your work will be rewarded too, as productivity soars after a bit of R&R.
Connect with your Colleagues
It can be very easy to feel distant from your colleague when working remotely, so make a habit of asking people how they are, calling them for a catch up, finding out what they’re doing over the weekend. Checking in with each other virtually is a good way to see if anyone is struggling, because it’s so much harder to sense these things with so much distance between us.
Switching off is tough – we can barely switch off in our personal lives, and with constant connection to our colleagues and managers it can be very hard to draw those boundaries too. Even so, logging out is not just a nice to have, but a MUST for looking after your wellbeing when working from home. Drawing a clear line between the end of the work day and the beginning of your free time will not only enrich your down time, but cause you to have a much more positive relationship with your job if you feel it isn’t eating away at your work/life balance.