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How to work effectively at home

By Lynn Waggott, HR Manager

With COVID-19 forcing many large and small businesses across the UK to switch to home working at short notice, it can be difficult for both organisations and employees to adapt to their new working environment.

With the new way of working set to continue for a while yet, we have pulled together some top tips to help you maintain good physical and mental health and maximise productivity when working from home.

By following these steps, you can help regain control over your working routine and regain a level of normality during this temporary new way of life.

Get into the right mindset early

  • Try to keep to your normal morning or pre-work routine (apart from the commute!) so that you feel ready to start work at the beginning of your shift.
  • Dedicate a specific area to act as your workstation to help you to distinguish between work and home mode.

Create a good working environment

  • Review how best to set up at home. Try and set up your workstation in a separate area and arrange everything so that the things you need are immediately to hand. You won’t have to tidy away every time you want to do something else, and all of the items you regularly use will be easily available.
  • Take some time to review the Health and Safety Executive best practice when working with DSE (digital screen equipment).

Remember to take breaks

  • Don’t remain sitting still for long periods. It isn’t good for your body and can have some serious effects over time. Do take regular breaks to spend time away from your desk. It can also be difficult to tear yourself away from your laptop if you’re worried people might think you’re not working, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take adequate breaks.
  • Leave your desk for lunch and take advantage of being at home to walk the dog and get some fresh air. In the office, your day is normally broken up by everything from meetings to water-cooler chats but when you are at home on your own with no face-to-face interactions planned, it can be easy to just work for long, unbroken periods.
  • Take the time to make proper meals, have snacks and drink regularly.

Manage distractions

  • Be aware of what can distract you. Being in an office provides a limited number of ways to get distracted but when you start working in a new environment (especially a very familiar one) it can be easy to let yourself get distracted i.e. by television or social media.
  • Educate the people close to you and set firm boundaries on when you can be interrupted and when you can’t – a dedicated workspace will help if this is possible within your home environment.
  • It may beneficial to work in 45 to 60-minute chunks of focused work followed by a short break to break the day up and maintain your concentration levels.

Be sociable

  • Ensure you keep up social interactions and stay motivated. Unless you’re in quarantine or self-isolating, working from home shouldn’t mean that you don’t leave the house at all or don’t see anyone.
  • Don’t miss out on socialising with colleagues by calling them rather than using email or messaging and turn on your video/webcam so you can interact properly.

Stay in touch with your team

  • Frequent team meetings or daily “scrum calls” will enable you to share information and assess workloads.
  • Have regular one-to-ones with your line manager.

Moving forward

In these challenging times, remembering these tips and putting them into practice may be of help if you are feeling increased strain. Hopefully they will also help you to keep things running smoothly so you can carry on working productively at home throughout this period. These Guidance Notes from the NHS offer additional advice.

For more information on advice on how best to support sustained remote working download our short guide here


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