A lot of us at this stage, have become accustomed to working from home and although this January lockdown; did not surprise me; it will be another challenging couple of weeks ahead for all of us ( Do remember though- this will not last forever ! it may feel like that it will; but it won’t !). Last week; I read that Ireland has the 2nd highest rates of employees working from home in the EU- close to 50%- only Belgium is ahead of us- it did make me think about working from home; what we could do better which led me to writing this article on working from home.
Designate a Workspace or Home Office and stick to working hours
When the pandemic hit and I started to work from home from late March; I started to work from a small table from my front living room- completely inappropriate! Now- thankfully – although it did take me too long to do it – I have a clear set up – with a proper working chair – and this distinction in space and having the right equipment has really helped me. I appreciate that some of us share apartments/ houses and it isn’t easy for everyone but try if all possible- to make that separation. It is important to create or try to create boundaries- work is work and you do not need to have the laptop in the corner of your eye late in the evenings.
Just as you designate and separate your physical workspace, you should be clear about when you are working and when you’re not. Before Christmas; as I was catching up with both clients and candidates alike- some were worn out and really looking forward to the break as they were doing longer hours- ( Working from home isn’t for everyone and also what can be done in a 10 minute meeting is now taking a lot longer with scheduled Zoom/ Teams calls ) – something I think a lot of us can relate too.
If you feel yourself extending your work hours because you aren’t doing anything in the evening…tell yourself it’s time to put work away, recharge, and start tomorrow with a fresh mind. The work will be there in the morning. I will be the first one to admit that I really struggle with this and still do on occasions ( ask my poor wife !). The temptation is there to check emails/ respond to emails and also with some employers; an expectation to respond but avoid that temptation “ don’t think – sure I will send a couple of emails whilst the oven is on !” working from home can be stressful ! so make sure to be kind to yourself and not to be too hard on yourself.
Build Transitions Into (and Out of) Work
Working hours does not just mean when you start and when you finish. Before working from home; I was very fortunate to work in a lovely part of town on Fitzwilliam Square. One thing I loved to do when working in town- was going for a walk at lunch time and that 20- 25 minute walk really helped me to clear my head and when I returned to the office; I felt re-energised and ready for the afternoon. So just because you’re not traveling doesn’t mean you shouldn’t carve out equivalent routines to help you ease into your workday. ( I did not do this last year and I suffered; became even more grumpy ! I appreciate it’s a lot harder during these winter months- but do try at all costs to get some fresh air and remember exercise is a great release.) I never heard anyone say that they didn’t feel better after a short walk and some fresh air- great both for the mind and body.
Don’t get sucked in by negativity and how to de-stress
Distraction is one of the big challenges facing people who work from home—some may say that working in the office can be more distracting ! but working from home can be difficult and it’s normal to feel anxious- even cut off. If you did not usually work from home, chances are there will be some bumps in the road if you have to suddenly go fully remote. The key to steering through these bumps is communication—especially with your manager and direct reports- and also think back to last March; on what worked for you and what didn’t.
Also – and I admit that I have fallen for it-is too get sucked by negativity. Last March and partly in November; I listened to the News in the morning; at 6pm and again at 9pm- please don’t do the same- and it’s not just Covid related news; events in America and recently with Brexit does not help one’s mood- and mute the notifications both on your own what’s app groups and news alerts- a lot of news is negative and does not help.
As for unwinding it has been proven that music is a great way of de-stressing. So turn off the phone; listen to music – trust me; give it a go ! ( was mentioned on a recent podcast and it does work ) watch what you eat and your sleep ; remember to exercise.. and just look after yourself – and as I said; this won’t last forever.