White-collar workers have been working from home for decades. Tech giants IBM were installing remote work terminals in employees' homes way back in 1979, long before anyone had ever heard of Zoom calls.
Still, prior to the coronavirus pandemic, it was quite rare to see a business actively encouraging its staff to work from home. That changed this year - in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, businesses all over the UK have now made the switch to remote working.
And for some workers, this has been a very welcome change indeed. Working from home eliminates the need for a daily commute, giving employees more free time in the mornings and evenings; furthermore, a lot of first-time remote workers have found to their surprise that they're more productive when working from home, perhaps because they're no longer distracted by the conversations of their colleagues.
How to Stay Focused Working from Home
However, working from home has its drawbacks as well its advantages. If you're not careful, you may find that your work and your personal life are beginning to bleed into one another - with troublesome ramifications for both sides.
With that in mind, here are some tips to help you maintain a healthy work-life balance while working from home.
Set up a dedicated work space.
Tempting as it may be to stay in bed all day, your work-life balance will suffer if you're spending your work hours and your downtime in the same place.
Try to find a spot where you can sit comfortably, maintain good posture, and work with as few distractions as possible.
Once you've set up your designated work area, try not to use it for anything else. Aim to confine your work to a specific part of your home.
Be honest with your colleagues, your clients, and your employer.
If you suspect that working from home will slow you down - either because there are additional distractions at home, or because you're missing a key piece of software or equipment that makes your job easier to do - then don't keep that concern to yourself. It's easy to feel like you need to keep working during your downtime because you didn't get enough done during the day.
Instead of sliding into that harmful mindset, be upfront with everyone you deal with. Make your colleagues and clients aware that you're working from home, and if necessary, explain that you may not be able to complete tasks quite as quickly as you can in the office.
You should also have a conversation with your boss. Make sure their expectations are reasonable, and ask them to provide any equipment you lack - it's your employer's responsibility to give you whatever you need to work effectively from home.
During office hours, act like you're at the office.
Many home workers find that, in order to get anything done, they must trick their brains into believing they're actually in the workplace.
If you're looking to replicate the office mindset while working remotely, here are a few suggestions:
- Dress professionally - don't stay in your pyjamas all day
- Stick to your usual personal hygiene routine
- Turn off the TV
- Keep your workspace clean and tidy
- Stay off social media and other websites you wouldn't want the boss to catch you browsing
READ MORE: Productivity Tips for Working from Home
Ask your family / housemates to leave you alone while you're working.
This may be a difficult conversation to have, especially if you've got children to look after. But where possible, you need to keep your home life from invading your professional life.
So speak to the people who share your home and ask them politely not to bother you over the course of the working day. If your designated work area has a door, keep it closed during office hours (perhaps with a 'Do Not Disturb' notice to deter interruptions).
Exercise at the end of each day, immediately after work.
When you clock off for the evening, it's important to draw a line under the working day.
Don't stay at your computer all evening, idly browsing the web while work emails continue to pop up in the corner of your screen; instead, leave your desk and do some exercise to let your body know that work is over and your leisure hours are underway.
Ricky Martin's Tips for Working from Home
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