Working from home during quarantine

Working from home isn’t something everyone has experienced before or even know HOW to do. There is a LOT of psychology behind working to peak performance from a home environment.

In these unprecedented times, the world has a large majority of people needing to work from home or remotely. I’ve had the privilege of holding positions where I have had the opportunity to work remotely over the course of the last 10 years and I am actually MORE productive, so have a few tips on how to optimise your situation.

Set your alarm:

Maintain a schedule for work even though your office environment has changed. You still have a workday, albeit a different looking one. Go to bed at reasonable time, get a good night’s sleep and set your alarm to get up at a reasonable time. Sure you don’t have to factor in “getting ready” or travel time so you do gain additional time in your day…some people choose that ‘extra’ time to get a few more minutes sleep and some use it to throw on a load of washing or fit in a quick run around the block or an online yoga session. Fitness and maintaining a regular sleep routine is also important to generate energy and release the necessary brain chemicals to get the job done.

Make bed and clean your teeth:

Prepare for your day as you normally would when you’re leaving the house to work. Set your brain to prepare for a normal workday. Making your bed and maintaining personal hygiene (which sounds silly but actually is an important factor) keeps your brain fresh and still lets your home act as your sanctuary at the end of your workday. Don’t let anything get stale.

Dress as though you’re going to see other humans:

Don’t get into the habit of dressing like you’re going to lay on the couch all day. By dressing as though you will see other people, you’re preparing your brain to move to work-mode instead of lounge-mode. You will be more productive if you are mentally prepared to be in work-mode as opposed to home-mode. There is an important distinction to recognise when your home and your “office” become one-in-the-same.

Make coffee:

Most of us buy/prepare a coffee each morning to take to our desk to settle in for the working day. Maintain that and take your home-made coffee to your home office/desk. Maintain that routine.

Open all the blinds/curtains and windows:

If it’s a nice day (and let’s face it, most days are near perfect here in Qld), open all the blinds or curtains and windows for some sunshine and fresh air. Take advantage of not working in artificial air and light and blow some of those cobwebs out.

Set up desk to reflect office as best you can (desk, monitor, mouse, keyboard):

Generally, you will be working from a laptop when you’re not in an office but try to set up your home office to sit your laptop at a proper desk or table, use a screen/monitor, a mouse and keyboard, printer/scanner if possible. Functionality is paramount and we don’t want to send the message to our brains that we can’t fully perform or are not as efficient/effective because we are not in the office.

In a room that doesn’t have a tv:

Assign a work area with minimal distractions. It’s best to set up your workstation in a room that doesn’t have a tv but if you work better with some low volume music playing then a bluetooth speaker might be good for your desk.

Take breaks but don’t go out:

It’s important to make sure you’re still taking a break here and there and not get chained to your desk for massive periods without a moment to stretch and breathe. You can even step outside into the sunshine and get some vitamin D but avoid leaving your house to run personal errands and save these for after work hours as they just act as a distraction and can easily blow out and consume a large part of your work time.

Stop at lunch but even if just to make a coffee & stay hydrated:

Make sure you eat and keep hydrated to ensure your body is working at peak performance. Don’t make the mistake of “working through” because this will inevitably lead to you feeling a bit crappy at the end of the day.

Make and work through lists:

Ensure you have a list of tasks or outcomes that you want/need to achieve, both daily and weekly. When we don’t leave the home to ‘go to work’, sometimes it can all feel like it’s blended in together and that we haven’t achieved as much as we had hoped for that day. I bet you have though! Make lists of outcomes and cross them off as you achieve them (even if you’re not normally a lists person). Again, it helps your brain make the distinction between being at home but performing your work function.

Stay connected (chat, video, email, phone) & do weekly meetings with work colleagues:

Now this one is vital! Do not isolate yourself from your team and colleagues. We all need to remain connected whether that be for guidance or instruction on work or for emotional support. Regularly checking in with your team will ensure everyone is on the same page workwise and keep projects and tasks progressing and not stalling.

In todays’ age of technology, there is little excuse for someone not being connected to the team in some capacity. In my personal experience, video is best because not only do you get the human interaction, but when you can visually see someone’s face, speaking over each other is much more limited and you can anticipate the conversation with much more ease. Things are less ‘lost in translation’ when we are talking face-to-face.

Even if you are self-sufficient and autonomous in terms of your own work function and don’t feel you need daily check-ins, make sure you have a check-in at least once a week. A quick update on who’s where and what everyone has on, is essential for so many reasons (including trust and confidence) but also for next steps and some human interaction. Some people live alone and having some human interaction during these times make us feel less isolated and alone. We’re still a team even if we aren’t in the same office.

We spend so much time with our work colleagues and many become friends and important parts of our personal lives. Why not start the week with a video conference for Monday morning coffee chats together or finish the week with Friday afternoon virtual glass of wine?

Don’t forget we haven’t gone anywhere, not really:

At BLR, we consider you part of our team and we are always here ready for a catch up…to chat about what’s happening in the world right now, prepare for the return to normal business WHEN it happens, or just to say hi and chat about things NOT related to what’s happening in the world right now. Grab your coffee and link up for a connection. We promise we won’t judge the way you look out of a corporate environment because we will look the same!!

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