Working in the comfort of your own home can afford many benefits, including increased performance, greater work-life balance, zero commuting and much more. When you're used to working in your office however, the transition to working from home can be a harder than you think.
Days can start melding into each other and it is not uncommon for feelings of isolation to creep into your mindset. Working from home also comes with its own distractions, so it's important to create boundaries between work and personal life.
Below we've compiled our top tips and best practices you can follow to combat cabin fever and make working from home work for you.
Just like any other work day, sticking to the same morning routine will help you approach work with the right mindset. You'll find you're more productive when you do all the things you do to prepare for a day in the office: Wake up early, get changed out of your pyjamas, make your bed, grab a coffee, and be set up at your desk from kick off. It's temping, but try to not make a habit of cooking a big brekky, watching morning TV and staying in pyjamas all day, as this will just prolong your morning and wear away your motivation.
It's very easy to lose sight of priorities and deadlines when working from home, so it's important to create a routine and stick to a schedule. Start your morning by writing a to-do list in order of priority. Tackle your hardest projects first and set time limits to keep track of your time management. Ensure you do the same thing at the end of the day so you can easily dive into your schedule the next morning. It is also easy to fall into the trap of overworking when working from home - when you don't need to leave to commute home, prolonging wrapping up for the day is easier. Set alarms or reminders in your phone to make sure you are designating the right amount of time to work - you don't want to burn out.
Don't make the mistake of working from your bed or couch. Create a designated "office" space for work only and try to invest in a comfortable chair with the right back support. There is nothing worse than injuring yourself because you aren't setup correctly. So consider using an extra monitor in addition to your laptop, a hands-free headset and follow the correct office ergonomics to improve your posture. Your screen or laptop should be at eye level for prolonged work, so if you're stuck you can always prop it up with a stack of books.
If you don't have a desk, get creative by moving tables and furniture together to create your own mini office. Designating a dedicated working from home office space will also help create a mental distinction between your working hours and mindset, and your personal time. For those without a set office space in their home, this will help provide boundaries for maintaining a work-life balance.
Communication is key when working remote. With so many communication tools available, collaboration has been made easy as we can reach out to our colleagues through phone, instant messenger or video chat. Scheduling daily catch-up calls through video conferencing apps, is a great way to stay in touch with the team and track progress. Without face-to-face interaction it's also important to maintain social interaction with colleagues, even erring on the side of over-communication. Hosting happy hour every Friday, can be a great opportunity for the team to catch up and share a few laughs to wrap up the week.
It's easy to lose focus and suffer cabin fever when you're stuck in the same room 24/7. Try to physically move around every hour, whether it's outside or within your home. This will help clear your head and spark creativity for your next task. It can sometimes be a challenge to know when to switch off, especially when the days start melding into each other and you lose perception of time. So set a timer to allow yourself to have a break and go outside, enjoy the fresh air and sunshine, stretch and exercise, even if it's just a few minutes a day.
Working from home comes with its own distractions, so ensure you are not side-tracked by the quick hanging of the washing, cleaning the kitchen, or planning dinner. Your house chores should not get in the way of your work schedule. If your kids are home, try setting up a signal system that tells them when it's okay to be interrupted. For example, hang green or red place cards on your office door indicating if it's okay to come in, or to not disturb. Digital distractions are the most dangerous of all - it's very easy to fall into the social media trap of "just checking" Facebook or Instagram which can quickly grow into hours of wasted time. Avoid the temptation of browsing your social feeds, reading the news or online shopping by closing all these tabs from your browser. There's also a number of apps and plug-ins that you can use that block these distractions, so even if you feel the temptation, you cannot access these sites while working from home.
Transitioning to working from home will take some time getting used to. However, if we get into the right habits and remember to maintain boundaries between our work and personal lives, and knowing when to switch off, then working from home can be just as productive as working in the office.