We know that things are a little strange right now. We’re mostly working from home and trying to make the best of a strange situation.
Some of us have children or other family at home. Care commitments. New relationships. Others are feeling isolated, worried about friends and family.
And then we still come to log on each day and get to work.
To make things a little easier, we at Iconic Resourcing have been toiling hard behind the scenes to bring you our safe and sane guide to working from home.
Let’s begin at the beginning:
Make Stress a Non-Starter
What do you do with you wake up in the morning? Do you make coffee, or turn on the news? Do you check your email or lie in bed with your phone?
Try starting the day with a large glass of water. Move around a little. Have something to eat. Make an achievable list of tasks for the day. Shower and get dressed.
If you start off well then – when you are ready to sit down at your screen, catch up on a scary news cycle and face the emails placing further strains on your time – you’ll be in the right headspace to face the challenges of the day.
Manage Your Routine, Don’t Let Your Routine Manage You
Routine is inexorably linked to productivity. But, perhaps, not how you think.
When we don’t have the strict confines of 9-5 office hours, this can be extremely liberating.
Some, in lockdown, are seeing productivity soar as they choose their own hours, take breaks when needed and even complete tasks late into the night (through choice rather than pressure).
Others, of course, will be finding it difficult to impose much needed rigidity to routines missing normality’s structural framework.
For some a consistent routine is good. While others feel stifled and stagnate. Be aware of what works for you, what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to switch things up.
Everyone starts to stall at different rates. What’s important is knowing yourself, knowing when routine is working, and knowing when it needs to change.
Stay Sane with Space and Breaks
This one’s important if you’re working from home for the first time. Make sure you have a dedicated space in which you can work.
It can be difficult, not everyone is lucky enough have a home office. But even if it’s just a spot on the couch, the dining room table, or a small desk in the corner of a room, it’s important that you have a space at which you can work and – this is key – leave work.
Taking a break has to feel like it, as does finishing for the day. It’s really hard to separate life from work when both involve sitting on the couch in your living room, or perching on the end of your bed.
It’s also vital that you create a space that fits your body. Hunching over a laptop screen, or twisting awkward wrists to type all day, will have painful physical consequences. Make sure that your work space can be used comfortably for long periods of time.
As significant as your work space is your ability to leave it. Set break times and stick to them. When you’re on a break, be away from your desk (even if your desk is your settee) and, ideally, away from a screen.
For some of us, without an office to leave, our work can seep into leisure time. Be strict with yourself and walk away at the end of the day.
Build in Support For Your Mind and Body
Let’s not pretend – we live in a stressful world at the moment. The news is scary, we’re juggling more than ever, separated from friends and family, confined to close quarters and supposed to make do.
It’s imperative, at this time, that we take the time and the energy to look after our mental and our physical health.
Physical exercise, outdoor activities, engaging hobbies and a good diet have all been proven to improve mental health and wellbeing.
Mindfulness, yoga, and meditation can help, but fresh air and nutritious food do too.
It can be beneficial to set goals outside of your work life, whether it be completing a hobby task, beating a personal best, or developing a new skill – though be careful not to worry if you don’t achieve them.
Which brings us effortlessly to our final point:
Adjust Your Expectations
We’re pretty sure you’ll have noticed: there’s a global pandemic going on.
This isn’t normal or, if you like, we’re approaching a ‘new normal’. It is essential that each of us be kind to ourselves and, somewhat paradoxically, expect less.
With anxiety levels spiking, loneliness and feelings of captivity, expecting normal levels of output or productivity can be downright detrimental. Employees and employers together must realise that the ‘new normal’ means less than before.
Any kind of routine becomes doubly difficult with children – famously routine-averse but most in need – involved. And with schools set to open only part-time, this additional time and energy commitment for some is going nowhere.
When it comes to work/life balance, we cannot expect work to work as before. If each of us manages to stay sane, keeping showing up (virtually, in most cases) and doing the best with what we can, then nothing more could, or should, be asked of us.
Expect to work harder, expect to achieve, and expect to thrive when things feel ordinary again. But, most of all, expect things to be a little bit different in the meantime.