Tips for effective home-working

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As of today, lockdown rules have been relaxed, meaning we can now look forward to going to pubs, restaurants, hotels, campsites and even cinemas. However, with most children still off school and employees encouraged to continue working from home where possible, it’s still a bit of a squash inside for many!

It’s looking like a long, hot summer of working and educating from home for much of the population. What can you do to make it easier? Here are our tips for getting the most out of home-working…

1. Give yourself time to switch on and off

Although few would claim to love their daily commute, travelling to the workplace each day helps you switch on and get into work-mode. Conversely, at the end of the day, you need some time to wind-down and switch off. Why not get some exercise by ‘walking to work’ – leaving the house, walking for a mile or so, then going into the ‘office’ to start the day. When it’s ‘home time’, take a wander round your garden as your commute home, and allow your brain and body to relax back into your free time.

2. Keep your work space separate

Ideally, you’ll have a separate room to work from, which is free from interruptions from family members. If this isn’t possible, make work space in the corner of the room or even section off part of the kitchen table. Make it clear to everyone else in the home the during work hours, this is your ‘office’ and must only be entered with permission. If you and your spouse are both working from home with school age children, it’s a good idea to each have a dedicated block of time to concentrate on work, rather than trying to multitask.

If you can afford extra space, consider extending. In a previous blog post, we’ve compared the merits of extending your loft with a cellar conversion. We’re experts at basement waterproofing and can help you turn a damp, underused room into a stylish home office or a space for the kids to hang out.

A stylish office in a basement conversion (image from decoist.com)

3. Dress like you mean business

Although it’s tempting to stay in pajamas all day and not shower until bedtime, experts recommend dressing like you mean business. This doesn’t mean you can’t relax your usual dress code – no one’s expecting you to don a suit and tie/tunic and name badge – but step away from the tracksuit and slippers and wear something the makes you feel good (even if it does have an elasticated waist). Stick to your normal makeup regime (assuming you have one) and show your creative flair with earrings, fancy tops and hair accessories, even if your lower half is more understated.

4. Schedule regular breaks

It’s easy for the boundaries between home and work to blur, and many will put in more hours when working from home. Stopping to put a load of washing in, or grabbing food from the fridge and eating at your desk doesn’t count as a break. Be sure to take regular breaks and if you find it hard, set an alarm clock to go off every 2 or 3 hours and force yourself to step away from your screen and get some headspace. Equally, at the end of the day, pack up and stop working. Don’t be tempted to go back and do a bit more later, just because your work is there.

5. Be realistic about what you can achieve

Pressure from social media makes us feel that as well as keeping on top of our work, we should also be finding time for regular yoga sessions, clearing out cupboards and baking with the kids. Some people may have managed to carve out extra time for self-improvement, but for most of us, managing our workload is keeping us busy enough.

Technological challenges, interruptions from family members and increased anxiety may mean we’re less productive that we are in an office or clinic environment, so set reasonable targets and avoid judging yourself and others on what you can get done each day. Everyone is adjusting to the new normal, including your patients and your boss, so go easy on yourself.