So, the world has suddenly turned upside down and everything has changed including the fact that, abruptly, you’re working remotely. For many people, this is a very new experience. In recent years, flexible working conditions has become an increasingly hot topic but, for a lot of companies, it’s still a concept that they’ve shied away from. However, with the Coronavirus hitting us all hard, times have changed, and a lot of people are being thrust into the unknown situation of working from home.
Doubtlessly, for the first few days – maybe even a week – you’ll have rapidly descended into wearing pyjamas exclusively (perhaps only partially when in video meetings), snacking incessantly, and generally allowing yourself to believe that you might actually be on annual leave. However, the number one thing that people miss when they stop going into the office every day is the routine: getting up, washed, and dressed; eating breakfast; driving to, or getting the bus or train to work; making that first cup of tea or coffee… and so on. Now that you work from home, it is vital that you establish a positive and normalising routine to get you setup and ready to do your job. Try this:
- Set your alarm and wake up at your usual time (also try to go to bed like normal too)
- Eat a healthy breakfast, or whatever you normally eat that’s designed to get you through the morning without multiple trips to a kitchen
- Wash, dress as usual (it doesn’t need to be formal, just not pyjamas!)
- Go for a quick, government-approved walk which is designed to simulate your commute to the office
- ‘Arrive’ at ‘the office’ (read: your spare room, the kitchen table, the sofa – wherever has been designated as your home working space)
- Begin your working day
In following a proper routine which has the same effort and thinking behind it as your usual morning routine, you are simulating yourself into treating it as a normal day wherein the excuse to slack off on your phone or taking a three-hour lunch isn’t condoned. It is human nature to slip into these habits so don’t beat yourself up but it is vital to manage this before it becomes a problem. Working from home enables you to have a huge amount of flexibility but complacency is your enemy here.
Equally, at the other end of your day, it is important to switch off from work and be able to detach and rest. Suddenly having your office at home can mean it’s difficult to ignore after-hours emails or phone calls. For your own sanity, it is important that you draw up your own lines in the sand with regards to what you will and won’t do in your own time and recognise that, although the distinction of leaving the office and coming home no longer exists, the working day does end and so your carefully-distributed work/life balance can continue to exist. If your morning wander helps to recreate that distinction, maybe nip out for a quick (socially responsible) wander round the block to help you establish the difference.
Remote working takes time to adjust to and you will need to make conscious choices to ensure that your usual working day doesn’t feel like a million miles away. Trying to keep a routine and a sense of normality is important during these crazy times, and your working day is the ideal place to begin.