Working well from home

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Remote working can be a challenge for some, particularly when you are not used to it over a sustained period of time. We have put together some tips on how to structure your day and separate your work-from-life from your home life.

Recognise the positives:
We’re living through a pandemic. No doubt, it can be difficult (almost impossible) to see any positives, given the uncertainty. Increases in Covid-19 case numbers and stringent regulations which have been introduced can cause stress and worry to take over. However, we believe that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and positives to be seen in every scenario. So we thought it was important to preface this article with a Cup of PositiviTea:

There’s great drying weather
If nothing else, the weather has been beautiful. Working from home means you have the chance to make the most of the “great drying weather” throughout the day! You can be productive in your work life and your home life all at once – ideal.

Noticing the things you take for granted
Being stuck in the normal day-to-day work routine can make us numb to some of the great things we have access to usually: coffee shops, seeing loved ones, gym classes, not having dry, chapped hands from constant washing and sanitising.

Good news stories / people coming together
For every sad or worrying news story, actively search for a good news story – they are plentiful. From online concerts in aid of charities, to Cadbury’s cancelling their annual Easter Egg hunt and donating €40,000 to Barnardos, to stories of people collecting groceries for elderly and vulnerable neighbours and leaving them on their doorstep, to businesses offering free meals to frontline healthcare workers – the people of the world are coming together to help and support each other through the unknown. A current favourite is the "Surprise Drive-By Birthday Party" for 12 year old Katie in Sligo.

Arguably the best side effect of the situation. When is the last time you were able to attend a meeting in your slippers?

You aren't stuck in traffic
Working from home means no commute. Great for your mental health – why not use this time to go for a walk nearby, adhering to social distancing guidelines? Also, less emissions from cars, buses and planes means less pollution, so it's great for the planet too.

Hot food for breakfast/lunch
Is your office kitchen limited to a toaster and a kettle? Take this time working from home to make some delicious, more adventurous meals during the working day. Try making pancakes (healthy during the week, not so healthy at the weekend) for breakfast and have a go at the soup recipe that has been bookmarked for the past 6 months.

Time to take up a new skill or hobby
Try your hand at learning an instrument or a few phrases of a different language. Perfect your knitting – think of all the homemade Christmas presents you could have sorted! For households with children, baking is not only a great life skill but also a great way to keep little ones entertained for a little while.

Time to complete the project you have been putting off
Remember that conversation you had about starting your own podcast, or clearing out the attic? No better time for it.

Of course there can be negatives to being stuck indoors and working from home too. Some people may experience feelings of isolation or simply miss the connection to their team. The home can be full of distractions, from housework that needs to be done to children running around your feet. Striking a balance between your duties as a parent and as an employee can be one of the most challenging factors at this time.

It’s important to accept that with these changes and this upheaval of life that we’re currently experiencing, anxiety and perhaps even a lack of motivation are natural side-effects. Much like each day at work can be different, each day at home will be different too. Try not to be too hard on yourself - we’re all doing our best. We’ve put together some tips for you below, to help instil some routine and some personal touch-points back into your life.

  • Start your day the way you normally would – e.g. a shower, a cup of coffee, breakfast.
  • Use your “commute” time to go for a (social distancing-friendly) walk or try some other form of exercise, preferably outside.
  • Have a designated area to do your work, outside of your bedroom – it is important to keep these zones separate so work thoughts and stresses do not seep into your sleep and relaxation time.
  • If you have shared accommodation, suggest using a communal area like the kitchen or living room as a temporary co-working space and introduce rules like set coffee breaks, muting alerts, etc. That way you can ensure structure while also having social interaction with the people you live with.
  • If you have children, check out the multitude of free resources available to entertain, educate and keep children active during this confusing time.
  • Try having virtual team lunches and coffee breaks: use Skype, FaceTime, Teams Meeting and eat with your colleagues as you normally would at set times. This is especially helpful in combatting loneliness and isolation, which may strike during this pandemic.
  • Stick to your set working hours as best as possible. If working remotely from a laptop, the temptation may be to continuously check emails to “stay on top of things”. Try to limit this – use your non-working hours to do non-work activities like baking, reading, exercise, housework. Work-life balance is just as important now as it always is. That said, some of us will be working unusual hours (e.g. if caring for children); if that’s you, try and agree a suitable schedule with your work and with your partner if you are sharing the responsibility. Once this is agreed, try to stick to it.
  • Avoid being sucked in by the 24hour news cycle. Continuously scrolling through news sites and social media platforms with statistics and scare mongering ‘what-if’ scenarios will increase stress and anxiety and make an already frightening situation worse. Remember, over thinking and worrying about something before it happens means that you live through it twice.
  • View the situation as fixed term. Nothing has ever lasted for ever and this won’t either. Tell yourself this will last for 2 weeks and set this as your goal – take each day as it comes and try to limit catastrophising thoughts and conversations.
Timetable and segment your working day into blocks, allowing for breaks, lunch and catch ups with team members. We've attached our KeepWell Daily Tracker which you can download and use to plan your day!

Keep safe and keep well,

Blánaid and Sophie

The KeepWell Mark™