Working from home and keeping your morale up during this challenging time #COVID-19
Over the years we have been seeing a growth in homeworking but clearly, with these unprecedented times with COVID-19 companies have had to find solutions to protect their staff, customers and partners and with the Government advice to keep their people safe and to reduce the spread of the virus.
Many organisations are able to move to home working fairly quickly, it is likely to be in their disaster planning but many might not have the infrastructure or, like our wonderful NHS, Police, Fire Service, Retailers and so many other critical services they need to be on the frontline.
For many, like our team we can work from home with our laptops, VOIP phones and cloud-based software. But actually, there is a lot more to it than that, keeping peoples’ morale up in a dreadfully stressful and difficult time, many people need that interaction with others and being at home, particularly if you live alone can be really detrimental to your mental health.
So, what can we do to keep our teams connected, feeling valued, reduce the feeling of isolation and find the approach that works for both the individual and organisation?
Here are our 5 tips:
1.Create a great workspace and environment
Think about what you need to create a space that works for you and your family – what equipment, light and chair. Some people like a standing desk, it helps them feel less closed in and find that it simply makes you move more like a walk to the kitchen for a glass of water than if you were sitting comfortably. It can be great to change things up a bit and every couple of days move for example from a workspace over to the kitchen table. The change of scenery can stimulate you and keeps your environment from feeling stale.
Atmosphere can be really important; some people thrive in the quiet, but others do better with background music or even TV on in the background creating more of a buzz!
2.Getting the day off to a good start
The prospect of staying in pyjamas all day may be the most tantalising aspect of working from home. But washing and getting dressed will not only improve your state of mind, it will psychologically prepare you to start work and in case you forget you booked that video call!
Starting the day with a to-do-list, what needs to be done by when with specific tasks and deadlines. It can help to share your plan and deadlines with colleagues booking in regular virtual meetings and a call schedule, so you have a degree of a structure and keep focused.
3.Regular catch-ups and communication with your team is vital
Going from a buzzy workplace to working from home can be a shock and quite lonely so keep in regular contact with colleagues and clients for updates and for support.
Having a quick video stand-up each morning where everyone gives an update on work they will be doing that day and what they worked on day before brings a positive start to the day, gives purpose and really helps make things feel more normal and that you are all still connected.
When you're at work, you're more likely to engage with colleagues but when you're working from home, you could spend the whole day without speaking to anyone which can be isolating. Build in calls and have conversations rather than relying on email – a real conversation can be much more stimulating and indeed more productive than a chain of emails and helps replace those update chats on the stairs!
4.Boundaries and trying to make this work with family pressures
This may be a new territory so give yourself time to find what works in these unusual circumstances. It maybe that you are balancing working from home with childcare specifically at the moment with schools closing or open part time. Try to work out a schedule between work and child time so you don’t feel guilty about compromising both.
Normally if you're employed by a company, you'll probably have set hours of work, and it's normally important to stick to these when you're working from home. But you may have to agree with your organisation to move your scheduled work times around the day or into the evening when children are occupied or asleep! When working collaboratively it is vital to discuss and share this with colleagues for all to understand and respect each other’s needs and stresses and find a solution that works for the whole team.
And remember to be kind and understanding – I think we have all seen the clip of the BBC interview when the professor’s children unexpectedly join him!
5.Breaks, fresh air and exercise
Research has also found that short breaks throughout the day are more beneficial than less frequent than longer breaks. Many home workers recommend the Pomodoro Technique, a method of time management which breaks your working day into 25 minute chunks. Each chunk is followed by a five minute break which helps increase productivity.
The simplest, easiest thing to do while working from home is stretching. Every hour or so, step back from your desk and spend five minutes doing stretches – it gets the blood flowing and allows you to refocus. It’s also probably something that many people at offices feel less than comfortable doing so make the most of it.
And finally keep everything in perspective
And finally, our key tip based on personal experience is to be kind to yourself, it may take some time to get comfortable with the quirks of virtual teamwork. Write down reasons to feel grateful and what constitutes a good day - not having to commute might save up to 3 hours a day so make the most of it.
And remember do not, under any circumstances have either biscuits, chocolate or ice cream in the house – you may regret it!!!