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Tips for working from home

In light of Public Health England recommendations on working from home, Irish in Britain has compiled some tips to help make your experience as positive and productive as possible.

Routine

Although it can feel difficult to maintain a routine during times of upheaval, the importance of having a regular routine for our health and our productivity cannot be underestimated. The predictability of our routine can help us to better manage and cope with uncertainty. Having a routine that helps us maintain basics such as proper sleep and regular eating habits as well as a structured workday can help keep us physically and mentally healthy and fit for work.

Structuring your day

  • Get up the way you usually would for work, rather than waiting until the minute before you have to start. Waking up at your usual time will put you in the mind set for work and get you ready for the day
  • Take breaks. Although it might seem counter intuitive, taking regular breaks will help you maintain mental energy and focus throughout the day. Moving around and standing up frequently is also important for your health
  • Frame your day. If you work nine–to–five hours, keep doing it at home. It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re working from home and if you can’t stick to a typical work–life balance, you may find yourself getting burnt out. To help prevent this, set start and finish times and take breaks throughout the day as you normally would.
  • Once you’re finished working for the day, remove yourself from your workspace and relax. This way you will keep your working day and down time separate and keep your mind clear

Your Workspace

Although it might be tempting to work from the sofa or bed, these are usually spaces that we mentally associate with relaxation. To help get yourself in the right state of mind for a productive day of work, consider creating a work–station if you don’t’ have a home–office. Besides making you feel like you’re in an office, if can potentially help you maintain better posture and avoid distractions.

  • Try to make sure your home workspace is set up as similar to your office as possible. Here are some pointers:
  • Check that you have the right equipment at home required e.g. laptops, monitors, cables, headsets etc and the necessary logins and access to do work remotely
  • Share your contact details with relevant internal/external contacts
  • Ensure you’re able to access any team wide communication that has been put in place whether that be by conference call or video conferencing
  • Follow guidelines on Display Screen Equipment
  • Minimise distractions. Chances are you don’t watch TV at work either, so try not to leave it on, even if it’s just background noise.  Clear clutter from your workspace to help reduce mental distractions, excess things in your surroundings can have a reduce your ability to focus and process information

Communication

Regular communication with your colleagues can help you feel more connected and less isolated while you work from home. Set up some key times to check in with your colleagues either through conference call or video conferencing. Letting everyone know a summary of your day, or perhaps checking in in the morning will make sure everyone feels supported and ready to work.

At Irish in Britain we use Microsoft Teams and we have a team meeting every morning to share work plans, updates and to help us stay connected with each other. Microsoft Teams allows you to set up a group chat for your team, file sharing, video conferencing, meeting recordings and much more.  As well as Teams, there are apps for video conferencing such as Zoom and GoToMeeting that are free to download (up to a certain point).

Mindset

  • The prospect of working in pajamas sounds appealing, but there is a psychological benefit to dressing for your job even when you’re at home. You don’t have to wear a full suit and tie every day, but it pays to take the time to get dressed professionally. It will help get your mind into “work mode” and avoid the temptation of staying in sleepy “pajama mode”
  • Rewarding yourself appropriately throughout the day gives you positive feedback for your accomplishments and keeps things from getting stale. A reward can be something as simple as making a fresh pot of coffee when you finish an important task
  • As mentioned earlier, staying in regular contact with your team can help offset feelings of isolation
  • If you’re not self–isolating, consider getting out and about for a walk once a day to help clear your mind. All the better if you have access to a park, spending time in nature can help lower feelings of anxiety and stress

General Health and Wellbeing

Nutrition – It can be easy to fall off track with our eating routine or to overeat while working from home, particularly if your workspace is in your kitchen. Set out times for eating and try to avoid grazing throughout the day.  Ideally, eat your meals away from your workspace. If your workspace is set up where you usually eat, consider moving your work materials aside away while you’re eating. If you’d usually prepare your meals the night before an office workday, stick to the same routine so that your working hours aren’t disrupted.

Keep moving – Sitting all day isn’t healthy even if you’re at the office but working from home means you skip your commute and probably have fewer reasons to get up from your chair throughout the day. Make sure to stand up regularly to stretch or move around, even if it’s getting up to put a load of laundry on, it all counts! If you’ve gained an extra hour or two from not commuting, it’s a good opportunity to exercise. There are hundreds of free home–based exercise videos available online.

Sleep – Keeping a regular sleep routine is hugely beneficial for our physical, mental and emotional health and it directly affect s our ability to focus and concentrate. Stress and anxiety can disrupt our sleep, if you’ve been experiencing difficulty sleeping here are some tips that may help.

For more information about our workplace training, please get in touch with us at health@irishinbritain.org

Read also about the launch of our Mental Health and Wellbeing Charter here.


Go to our dedicated online section for all our resources and information on supporting our community through the coronavirus health crisis.