As many of us across the UK are now a nation of homeworkers, coupled with the fact our resident lounges that were once a haven for homeworking have temporarily closed, we here at Get Living wanted to share some top tips for adjusting to work life away from the office and how not to let the job take over your home.
What makes our tips stand out from the crowd is that earlier in the year, before our lives were dictated by a virus, we did some digging to uncover what issues UK office workers had when it came to homeworking and how many of you would jump at the chance. We’ve used this insight to give you the most relevant and beneficial advice we can and it’s safe to say we’ve got plenty of time on our hands to refine the art of homeworking.
1) Utilise your commute time
Avoid the temptation to stay in bed and have a lie-in. Survey results showed 74% of office workers have a commute of more than 30 minutes so why not get up at your normal wake-up time and utilise the commuting hours to get some fresh air with a walk around the neighbourhood to set yourself up for the day. Having the same wake up time will help you retain a sense of normalcy and if you take your daily walk early on a morning you can beat the crowds which makes social distancing much easier to manage.
2) Have non-work conversations
We found out that a big homeworking-worry for 39% of office workers is the lack of interaction and feeling lonely, which in self isolation is to be entirely expected. It may sound counter-productive but having the occasional non-work video call with a colleague or friend can help reduce distractions and keep you in a more positive mindset when working. If schedules allow, put time in the diary for a team call to share a cuppa and chat about everything non-work related that you usually would talk about in the office.
Given we’re in the very rare situation where the whole of the UK can relate to each other, now is a good time to join a building or community social media group where you can all vent / laugh / cry together. But mostly laughing. Just remember to socially distance from your phone when you’re working to a deadline.
3) Create a dedicated workspace
Not having a designated workspace was another niggle that 29% of office workers have, because if you haven’t needed one before, why would you have one at the ready for a surprise pandemic. Now homes are having to be more multifunctional than ever before it’s important to set up a dedicated workstation to get you into the right frame of mind for work. Try and replicate your office desk with plants, a work mug and pens / notebooks at the ready.
Whilst we don’t recommend everyone goes out and buys an entire set of office furniture, if you can invest in an office chair, DO IT as your back will thank you for it, but you can also rent office furniture if that suits your situation better. If that’s not an option, then try to mix up your working position with a makeshift standing desk (hello ironing board!) to give your poorly supported back a break from sitting all day.
4) Give yourself a break
And it’s not just your back you need to think about. Many of us working from home will be doing so on laptops and computers which can be pretty rough on our eyes. To help you remember to take scheduled eye breaks, remember the ever so handy 20/20/20 rule. Every 20 minutes look away from your computer screen for 20 seconds at something 20 meters away, because our eyes need exercise too.
The most important break of all however would be the all mighty lunch break. Not only should you always take a lunch break, but you should relocate to do so. Firstly, to make sure you really do take a break, no just checking that email or proofing that document, but also so you don’t get crumbs in your keyboard because, well, that’s not nice.
5) Pet proof your home
For those of you in lockdown with a furry friend, homeworking can be a lot more entertaining, but it can also prove tricky to navigate. From dogs barking on conference calls to cats sitting on keyboards and sending unwanted emails, it would be wise to pet proof your workspace from the get-go. If space allows, working in a separate room can help to reduce distractions, however not everyone has this option. Planning their walk or an energetic playtime before lengthy conference calls will help to tire out energetic animals, whilst keeping their favourite toys on the other side of the room can encourage them to stay away from work laptops. Also don’t look into their eyes, we all know puppy dog eyes are hard to resist.
6) Save your energy
It was nice of the good weather to finally show up in time for us to all be in self isolation, but at least those blue skies are improving our mood through the window. With Spring having sprung this does help towards managing increased energy bills while we’re all at home because if it’s not heating its powering laptops and phones all day, not to mention the microwave and kettle having to step up to the plate. The cost of bills while homeworking has been playing on the mind of a quarter of office workers but being mindful of energy use can help mitigate this.
Take advantage of daylight and work near windows to eliminate the need for lights during the day and only boil the kettle with enough water for your brew. Wear extra layers. Don’t work from your bed to get warm though, it’s a slippery slope to an impromptu nap if you do that.
7) Schedule household chores
Unsurprisingly one of the main worries when it comes to homeworking is increased distractions with more than half of you being put off working from home completely by this, which given the situation we’re all in, means you’re going to need this tip a lot right now.
Household chores can be one of the biggest distractions because let’s face it, sometimes we look for distractions and cleaning and tidying don’t make us feel too guilty for not working, instead we feel productive and organised. To avoid having a staring match with a pile of laundry, create a house jobs schedule that works around your working hours. Put your laundry in before you start on a morning and it’ll be ready to hang out by lunch. Do your dishes the night before so your breakfast and lunch dishes fit nicely in the sink where they’ll stay out of sight until you finish work.
Establishing dedicated times and setting reminders to do housework so that it fits around your workday will stop you looking for dust particles to be distracted by.
We would love to see all of your makeshift homeworking set ups so make sure to tag us on Instagram at @SimplyGetLiving using #getlivingathome and we can share your own homeworking wisdom. The more innovative the better!