The current COVID-19 restrictions have altered the way we all live in a drastic way, including the world of work. For companies who can accommodate remote working, many employees have been working from home for over 2 months.
Whilst flexible and remote working opportunities were available to our staff before the lockdown period, having the whole business working from home full-time is a new experience for all of us.
In this blog, our Social Work Recruitment Consultant, Lauren Bailey, shares an insight into how she has adapted to working from home and her tips on how to maintain productivity and wellbeing during this uncertain time.
Workstation set up
Since working from home I’ve found it’s important to find a designated workspace that works for you. The first few weeks of working from home I was working mostly from the sofa but each day was ending in a stiff back and neck that no amount of yoga was easing.
I’ve since created a designated work area at the kitchen table following the useful tips in the ‘How to Create the Ideal Working from Home Set Up’ blog on our website.
As my partner has currently been furloughed, I’ve also found it useful to have a workstation away from the main living area, especially for times where I need some privacy for Zoom meetings and from the DIY projects going on at home. I’ve had to get a little creative using a camping table for my second desk, but these designated workstations have really helped improve my productivity and comfort whilst working from home.
If you’re struggling to set up a suitable workstation, speak to your manager. Many organisations, including Opus, are offering to support employees with getting equipment to make working from home easier.
Remember your working style
Even though my working environment has changed, I’ve found it important to remember how I work best and how I achieve productivity.
I usually work from a ‘to do list’ which I cross off and have dedicated times or days for completing certain tasks, so I have made sure that this hasn’t changed since working remotely. Friday can be a good day to plan and set tasks to complete for the next week.
Adjusting from working in a bustling office with lots of noise has been a challenge, but I’ve found that having some background sound has helped with concentration rather than silence.
As I would at work, I still take regular short breaks from my laptop and make sure I have a lunch break away from my workstation. I’ve made sure that my coffee breaks with colleagues haven’t been forgotten, they’ve just changed to a virtual one this time.
Logging off skype and going for a daily walk to switch off at the end of the day really helps to mentally ‘leave the office’. I also make sure I have any notifications turned off for any work-related apps on my phone, so I keep a boundary between my personal and work-life.
For a longer break, I’ve used my annual leave for some time off to enjoy the sunny weather and to take a break when I felt that it would benefit my wellbeing.
Even though I’m not sitting with my team in the office, I stay connected through Microsoft Team meetings and regular communication with my manager, ensuring that I share if I need any help with certain tasks. I make sure that I keep my status on skype up to date, so colleagues know when I’m away from my computer and when I’m in a meeting or call.
Sharing pictures and details of what other have been doing on Teams, the weekly newsletter and the weekly Zoom meetings have really helped me feel connected with the business.
Don’t forget you can also stay connected after work through the events being organised and you can suggest something new if there is something else you’d like to try.
Look after your mental health
It’s completely normal to have good and bad days, I’ve certainly had some days where I’ve felt more anxious, stressed and had lower mood than others. Where possible I’ve stopped reading the news and turned off the radio as I was finding it was quite triggering for me. I know where the mental health resources are such as the Employee Assistance Programme if I need it and who the mental health first aider is.
Exercise has always been important to maintain a positive well-being for me and now working from home means I have the flexibility to exercise before I start working, during a break in the day or after work to maintain my usual routine.
Most importantly you need to recognise what works for you. If the current restrictions are stopping you from being able to do something that usually helps with your mental wellbeing, you could try and take up a new activity such as yoga, meditation, painting or learning a new language.
Find the positives
I’ve found it important to think of the benefits of remote working. The time I’ve spent usually stuck in traffic commuting to work, I’ve been able to use to stay on top of housework or do some morning yoga and make a nice breakfast. Freshly home cooked lunches are a blessing compared to a squashed sandwich or soggy salad and although I’m missing the fancy coffee’s my bank balance is seeing the benefits of my lack of spending.
Why not try and make your own list of positives of working from home? It can really help shift your perspective and help create a positive mindset.