How to survive lone working
Over the last two months, there has been a lot of adjusting to do... staying at home, not seeing friends and family, not going to classes and social groups, not meeting up at bars, restaurants and coffee shops, not going out shopping or on day trips and holidays and of course the move to working from home.
Many of us have had to move rapidly from the office desk where you are surrounded by colleagues (and the office banter that goes with it), to the isolation of the bedroom office. Of course there are some benefits - no commuting, the ability to put the washing on or be in for the home delivery; but these can easily be outweighed by the negatives - the lack of human contact, the blurring of home/work life and the intensity of being in one room for long periods of time. Some of you will also be home schooling and having to juggle childcare with work.
Work is suddenly done alone, over the phone, via Skype, Zoom or Google Meet. It's all become much more impersonal, the conversations are more stilted as we wait for one person to speak before unmuting and making your contribution. And it's now much harder to separate work and home life.
So, as a sudden home worker, how do you cope with the change and lack of contact with colleagues? Here are some tips on making the best of home working:
Plan your day/ week ahead as you would at work, including breaks for coffee and lunch. You would do this in the office so why not at home as well?
Take regular breaks from your desk, walk about, get some fresh air. It will help you work more effectively and won't feel so intense.
Get into a routine so that you, your colleagues and your family know when you are working/taking a break. Set your working hours and keep to them, making sure that you cut off properly from work at the end of the day.
Have a dedicated work space and make sure you are comfortable. It will help you work more effectively.
When work is finished for the day get out for some fresh air and exercise - it helps to split work and home.
Make sure you have all the technology needed and that it is working properly. There is nothing more frustrating than a dodgy system that interrupts what you are trying to do.
Encourage each other, keep in touch with the rest of the team and offer support. It will help you all to feel more connected. And take virtual coffee breaks as well as office meetings.
What will our working life be like in the future? Is home working here to stay, at least for the next few months?