Anna Bibby, 22 January 2021
Working from home has become more prevalent in the last 12 months and it looks like it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future.
While it does feel great to do away with the morning commute, working from the place where you usually like to unwind can put a strain on your productivity and mental state - especially if you live in a small space. We have put together a few handy tips to make sure that you can make the most of your time working from home.
Set up a comfortable work space
In ideal circumstances, you would have a spare room or at least space for a desk where you can set up your new home office. However, if you have no such space then it’s time to get creative! Whether it is working from your kitchen table, dressing table or even your balcony, you need to make sure that you’re in a spot that is comfortable and in a quiet corner of your home. Ensure that you have a seat that properly supports your back and that your computer screen is roughly at eye level. Try to pick a spot that is well-lit and devoid from distractions. If possible, avoid working from your bed, sofa or any other spot where you like to relax, as it can compromise productivity while you’re working and your ability to switch off when it’s time to relax. It can also be bad for your posture. If these are your only options, make sure you’re sitting upright and maybe invest in a laptop desk, so your laptop is more at eye-level.
Working from home, you have more distractions than when you’re in the office; you may have children and pets running round, more clutter and the temptation of checking your phone while you’re unsupervised. Before you start work, take some time to clear your space of distractions - tidy up before you start and get rid of any clutter surrounding your work area. If you have pets, take them out, so they don’t distract you as much while you’re working. If you have children and you’re struggling to find childcare, maybe set up an activity to keep them occupied throughout the day. If possible, put any gadgets like phones and tablets away while you’re working and avoid having the TV on. Music may be a better option if you need some background noise.
Indulge in a fake commute
Although the daily commute can often be regarded as a nuisance, it is also essential for many people to help them switch in and out of work mode. More people were recognising this as they started working more from home last year, so they started embracing a phenomenon called the ‘fake commute’ - this is where people replicate their daily commute at the start and end of their day to help them split up work and home time. Obviously, this doesn’t mean you literally have to replicate your commute to work - it can be anything from going for a run to taking a leisurely stroll after you turn your computer off. You don’t even have to leave your home - doing something like a home workout or running yourself a bath after you have finished work will help that transition from work to relaxation mode.
Set boundaries with the people you live with
Things can get quite tricky if you have housemates or a partner that is also working from home when you’re sharing limited space - you may have them talking loudly on a conference call when you need to focus or you’re distracting them by doing chores when they have to work after-hours. The most important thing to do is to set clear boundaries with them - if you can, share each other’s schedule for the week and make each other aware of any important meetings or deadlines coming up, so you’ll know when you need to make yourself scarse or be mindful of any noise distractions that you might make. The most important thing, however, is to keep your spirits up - this is already a difficult time, and this will only be made worse by tension or arguments. Small gestures like offering to make hot drinks or simply lending an ear when they are stressed out can ease any tension and keep the mood up.
Working from home can be challenging, but if you utilise the space you have properly, take steps to help you switch off when you need to and communicate properly with you the people you live with, it can work extremely well for you and you may never want to return to the office again!
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Anna Bibby, 22 January 2021