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Successfully Working from Home

As the UK locks down again in our continuing battle with Coronavirus, those of us who can are once again working from home. In this article we’re drawing on our experience over the last year, to cover some of the issues you might face while working from home, and how to combat them.

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Feeling that you’re “always on”

Many people to travel to work find the journey useful in separating work from the rest of their lives. During the commute, you can adjust from one mindset to another, mentally preparing for the day on the way to work, and winding down on your way home. Much as you might dislike your commute, it’s sudden absence can make it difficult to switch off at the end of your working day.

This effect can be exacerbated by the need to use part of your home as a workspace. If your sofa or kitchen table are pressed into service as makeshift office spaces, it can feel like you’re “living at work” rather than “working from home”.

Possible solutions

Anything you can do to replicate the feeling of arriving at and leaving work may help. If you can, have a dedicated space where you work. If you’re lucky enough to have a room you can designate as your workspace, this will allow you to “arrive” at the start of your day, and “leave” at the end, literally closing the door on your workday when it’s over. Failing that, any dedicated space you can set aside could be better than trying to relax in the same spot that you work in.

It’s also important to keep to your normal working hours wherever possible. Start on time, take your normal lunch break and finish when you usually would, and stop working when you’ve finished. If necessary, get used to setting an out of office message on your email or phone while you’re not working, so colleagues and clients know when you’re available.

There are other things you can do to cross the mental space between work and home, some of which may work for you and others that might not. For example, some find it helps to dress for work and change when they finish, or you could mark the beginning and the end of the day with an activity, like going for a walk.

Feeling isolated

Particularly during lockdown, when the number of people you regularly interact with is likely to be quite small, working from home can feel quite isolating. Add to this the fact that you have to stay in your home, and you have a recipe for a number of mental health issues. It’s important to recognise those difficulties and do what you can to mitigate them.

Possible solutions

If you’re living alone, or you fit into the other criteria, you are allowed to form a support bubble with another household. This allows you to treat the members of your support bubble as if they were in the same household as you. Remember this applies to the self-isolation rules if someone in your bubble develops symptoms or tests positive for coronavirus, as well as the social-distancing rules. 

Many businesses are using technology to enable them to switch from an office environment to working from home. Get to know the software package your employer or client is using, and reach out to colleagues whenever possible. You might also use it to speak to friends and family while you’re not working; anything you can do to connect with people outside your household.

It can also be helpful to get out of your home as often as possible. Opportunities to get out and about are limited by lockdown restrictions, but most of us should be able to get out for at least a short walk once a day.

Distractions

While some find that working from home gives them additional time and space to get more done, others find their productivity falling because of the many distractions at home. This can be especially difficult if you’re trying to manage childcare responsibilities as well as working, or you’re sharing space with others.

Possible solutions

If you’re only dealing with low-level distractions, the advice we gave earlier about separating your work and home life may be relevant. Having a dedicated workspace, keeping your normal working hours and dressing for work can go a long way to helping you focus.

If you’re sharing a space with others, communication is key. Make sure they know when you shouldn’t be disturbed and come to an agreement about the use of communal space. Again, the ideal situation would be if you could work from a separate room and close the door when you’re “at work”.

If you’re trying to juggle childcare responsibilities, perhaps due to school closures or isolation requirements, this can be much harder to resolve. Making your employer or client aware of the situation may help, and you may be able to make a childcare bubble with another household.

If you have any questions or if we can help in any way, please call our expert team on 01296 468483 or email info@orangegenie.com.

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