Working from Home? Self-Isolating?
If you’re one of the thousands of employees who are being advised to work from home, we may be able to help with some tips and ideas that have helped us run our business successfully for over 16 years. As a remote-working team we’ve kept afloat through the worst recession the world has known and even through the simultaneous hospitalisation of our two directors! Both Tim Woodman and I will be forever grateful to our fabulous team for keeping the plates spinning as we recovered, one from injury, the other from illness – and we tell them so frequently!
So here are our top 3 tips for successful homeworking:
Communication is key
‘The problem with my manager/colleague/spouse is that they communicate too much with me’ said no-one – EVER! Communicate – often, formally (in pre-arranged online meetings) and informally (set up Skype for Business, Zoom or similar and get ‘face to face’ for a quick question, just as you might in the office). Err on the side of over-communicating updates – it’s surprising how easy it is to miss a particular message in a thread or your email inbox. Set up Slack (with separate channels for different conversations) or similar. It’s pretty versatile for business – and free!
Take frequent breaks
Research suggests people work longer hours when working from home than they would in the office. This may be for the very reason that many people feel more guilty taking a break at home than they would walking to the coffee station in the office. Set your phone, smartwatch or alarm to remind you to get up and walk around/drink water regularly. Make sure you take a proper lunch break and utilise your allowable daily exercise in the fresh air*.
Ensure out of sight is NOT out of mind Some will find working from home easier than others, so spare a thought for the colleague who may be grateful for more frequent check-ins, even a friendly face on Skype a couple of times a day. If you live close to a work colleague and you're not required to self-isolate completely, a walk-by wave through a window on your daily dog walk could provide a welcome distraction, or how about a 'shared' tea break over Zoom?
It’s important to look after your mental and emotional health as well as your physical wellbeing during this time; your ability to focus on your work will improve and your immune system will thank you for it too!
*Post edited to reflect the government's most recent advice to stay at home and avoid mixing with others who do not live in your household.