As the Coronavirus outbreak puts the UK into lockdown, businesses all over the country are asking their teams to work from home. The PR industry is no different and, equipped with our laptops, phones and thankfully cloud-based systems, we have all ventured into the new normal that is remote working. As we near the end of our first week, and several Covid-19 statements later, we reflect on what we have learned about our new working lives - here, we bring you our top ten tips for working from home (WFH) well:
1. Get in the zone
Working from home 101: behave like you would in the workplace. Wearing your regular office attire will help maintain an ‘at work’ mindset, so best to avoid the onesies during working hours – not to mention, it’ll save you a lot of embarrassment on accidental video calls. It’s also important to establish a comfortable but appropriate space to work in (sitting at a table or desk is usually best). Although the laptop and sofa combo may seem like a good idea, it’s both bad for your posture and professional frame of mind.
2. Structure, structure, structure
Maintain your normal office routine as much as possible – this means clocking in and out at your usual times. It’s tempting to leave documents open for the next day or to do overtime as the lines between home and work become blurred, but it’s not recommended. Planning your tasks in advance will help ensure they are completed in normal working hours, providing you with a better work life balance.
3. Devil in the distraction
For many of us, a home office is somewhat of a pipedream and the reality is that most work is completed in dining rooms, kitchens or living spaces. This brings with it a whole host of distractions, with TV and streaming channels being WFH enemy number one. If you can limit yourself to only watching Netflix after 5.30pm, then do it – your work will thank you in the long run.
4. Take breaks
Taking regular breaks away from your homemade office space will give you a much-needed change of scenery and is a great way to stimulate the mind, particularly for creative writing. Building them into your day as a reward for completing a challenging task will motivate you, as well as providing a good sense of achievement. We've found a decent coffee break will often do the trick!
Whether you’re an early bird or someone who likes to break up the day, use the government’s daily allowance of exercise wisely – this is especially relevant if you have kids at home that you may need to tire out before the working day ahead. A run in the morning can set you off to a great start, whilst an evening stroll is a good way to forget the stressors of work.
6. Keep connected
Working from home can feel lonely, so making the effort to keep in contact with your work colleagues is key. Regular phone calls and video conferences are great tools to keep the whole team up to date with what’s going on in the business, as well providing the human interaction we all need to stay sane – trust us, they brighten up our day!
7. Ambience is everything
For the people out there who favour absolute silence, working from home may be your dream come true. For the rest of us, it’s important to try and alleviate potential feelings of isolation when completing independent tasks at home. The radio or music streaming channels offer a good solution to this and we’ve found concentration and relaxation sounds are particularly handy for those of you who are easily distracted.
8. Set boundaries
Although already alluded to, we cannot stress the importance of work life balance enough. If you must work in a place you usually associate with your free time, make sure to tidy up your things at the end of the day to avoid any overlap between your personal and professional lives. Time away from your laptop and email is essential to your wellbeing and you’ll find you’re much more productive when it counts.
9. Practice social distancing
Unless you live alone, the nature of our current situation means that we’re suddenly sharing our daily working lives with those we cohabit with. Be it your family, friends or significant other, it’s important to communicate and establish individual workspaces so households can work in harmony. Having someone to share your lunch breaks with is just the cherry on top!
10. Be patient
Working from home takes a bit of time to master, so don’t feel guilty if it takes you a day or two to settle in. Those initial feelings of isolation and being unproductive will fade away as quick as they came and you’ll soon begin to feel like you’ve been doing this your whole working life. So, hold on in there during the transition period – the best is yet to come.
In reality, we will all have different experiences and expectations of working from home – some will love it, whilst others will be counting down the days until the office reopens. Whichever camp you fall in to, we hope our top ten tips make the days to come that bit easier or at the very least, act as a reminder that we are all in this together!