The past few months of lockdown life have created extraordinary changes to the way in which many of us go about our daily lives, and work is no different.
Millions of people have been forced to quickly adapt to a working from home environment, something that a mere 5% of people did regularly in 2019, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Although the government is easing certain aspects of the lockdown it is becoming clear that the work from home trend is here to stay, as Boris Johnson encourages as many of us as possible to continue working remotely for the foreseeable future.
But as fatigue sets in, there are some quick adjustments you can make to help the new normal become more comfortable and even a success. We’ve talked to Neil Bage co-founder of Be-IQ, who is an expert in behavioural psychology, to find out what you should keep in mind for long-term work from home success.
If you’ve got kids with you at home at the same time as trying to work, keeping them occupied can be a nightmare. There is no one easy answer to this as everyone’s work routines and home life is different.
Introducing structure to their day can be a big help though. “Bring them to work” so to speak with constructive play and learning, give them “tasks” to do, like putting together a puzzle or colouring in a certain number of pictures, in exchange for a small reward to focus them on a task.
If you’re struggling to get hold of things like jigsaws then look up free puzzles for kids on Google, the internet is a wealth of free information waiting to be used.
Giving yourself structure is also important. Like separate leisure and workspaces, clearly defining work time and leisure time is essential. Keep a consistent routine and make sure you’re dressed in more than just PJs to do your work. You’ll likely feel a lot better for it.
Socialising over apps such as Zoom has become ubiquitous in recent times. Having time set aside to catch up with friends and family is good for your spirits, but also good as an excuse to clock off when you should.
Try setting up your Zoom drinks or a catch up right after work is supposed to end. It will give you a timeline to work to instead of just languishing on your emails late into the evening.
We’re now a couple of months into one form of lockdown or another. Chances are you’ve been bored at least once. Exercise is a massive driver of positivity in this regard so it’s great the government (in England) now allows this more than once a day.
Going for a morning walk or jog, and evening exercise are all excellent ways to loosen up the spirit, get away from screens and have some thinking time to yourself. As much as we love our families, the lack of personal space and private time can affect mental health as much as anything. Try taking different routes each day to mix up the schedule.
Likewise, in-house activities such as yoga or body exercises are a great, cheap way to get your blood pumping. YouTube is your friend in this regard as there are millions of hours of free videos to help you do this.
Now more than ever, with each of us squirreled away at home it can become difficult for bosses and colleagues to pick up on issues someone might be having with their work. Increased stress, working hours and a sense of isolation are easy enough to creep up on any of us.
If things feel like too much, or you’re having to spend more time in your day to look after your kids, then just tell your boss. It’s more than likely they will understand, and will probably be under similar strains.
Don’t be afraid to tell them you need an hour extra to go to the supermarket or to get the laundry done. Or if you just need some time to read and focus on something entirely different.
Ultimately, the best way to work from home successfully is to take time to think about how best to adjust your habits and settings to make yourself as comfortable as possible, while still being able to step away and recharge when you need to. For more information on healthy working from home, the NHS has resources to help.