How to Work From Home Effectively
As the number of Covid-19 cases in the UK increase, the government have released advice on how to prevent catching the virus and what to do if you have been infected. As well as washing your hands for 20 seconds with hand soap or sanitiser, coughing into your elbow and thoroughly cleaning, officials have also recommended that those considered high risk self-isolate for 12 weeks, and everybody else practices social distancing. For many, this means working from home.
Data from the ONS Labour Force Survey states that over 1.5 million people in the UK work from home as part of their main job, but for many in the optical field, this will be a new experience.
If you or team members are working from home and are not used to it, it can be a big adjustment. At SightCare, I have worked from home as the social media and content creator for a number of years and have a number of tips to help you to adjust to your new routine:
Have a routine
As you would at work, it is important to have a routine.
It’s very important to create a routine and adhere to it. While many think working from just means laying around in pyjamas watching box sets – I can assure you this is a very far removed idea of what long-term working at home involves. If anything – you should steer clear of staying in your pyjamas and continue to get up and dressed like a normal working day. After work, change into clothes you’d normally change into to keep the normality.
Here are some tips below to help:
- To-do lists and task lists – Keep on top of your to-do list and prioritise tasks. Being on a computer so much can mean you end up flip flopping between tasks so it’s useful to have something to check your progress off against. This method will also help make things less stressful by decluttering your brain. Apps you can use if you don’t want to use pen and paper include Microsoft planner on Teams (so the rest of your department can view what you’re working on) or TodoList.
- Keep to a schedule – Designate certain times for tea breaks – have them the same every day if possible! Split out your morning and afternoons into what you want to achieve, and use this combined with your to do list, you can also allot time to certain tasks to make sure you aren’t spending too much time on one task.
- Use apps to help you focus – Apps are our friends again – apps such as toggl will allow you to set a stopwatch for each task you work on – this will make sure you aren’t going overboard on one area and neglecting another. Other apps such as forest will stop you from getting distracted by your mobile phone or social media but rewarding you for not unlocking your mobile – I’m sure many of us will find this one useful!
- Limit distractions – Yes that does include pets, TV, phones…we know it’s tricky! If you can create a dedicated work space area, do. This should preferably not be in your bedroom as this can interfere with sleep – although we know with children off from school this is somewhat harder. If you can rearrange your furniture for the next few weeks – do.
- Listen to music – Many studies have shown that by listening to the right kind of music you can boost productivity and focus – especially classical music! However, this of course isn’t everybody’s cup of tea – so opt for chilled music that won’t take you out of your zone. Why not create a playlist on Spotify or YouTube?
- Food and water – Remember the classic 20-20-20 rule that we talk about so often for yourself too! Set a reminder on your laptop or phone as time easily elapses. Keep hydrated by having a large bottle of water with you as this will help your concentration. Set aside tea breaks and food breaks – don’t keep a whole packet of snacks on your desk because you will absentmindedly eat them! I plan mine like this:
- 8am breakfast, 10.30am tea break, 1pm lunch break, 2.30pm tea break, 5pm dinner.
- Go on a media diet – Too much information can just be that – too much information! Keep your mental wellbeing on a safe curve by limiting how much media you consume.
- Take a break occasionally – Keep away from others but do go outside for a walk every day!
Self-isolation sounds…well, isolating! However, you do not have to ban all forms of communication. If anything – this is a time to ramp it up!
Check in with your team with phone calls, video calls, Microsoft teams, Slack, Whatsapp…just make sure you don’t let it enter procrastination!
Stability and Security
Despite working from home, it is vital to maintain security and stability within your work. This includes having a good internet connection and making sure your broadband allows for VPN is helpful.
VPN’s or remote desktop software ensures that no sensitive information can be intercepted by hackers and that users can access the network and any shared information easily. If you internet isn’t very reliable, try investing in a new router or use a mobile hotspot.
Another easy way to communicate, share and collaborate on information within your organisation is to use Microsoft teams (which is currently offering a 6 month free trial ) or Trello or Slack, which allows you to assign tasks, share documents, chat and keep track of progress and workflow on all projects. You can also set up web meetings, share your desktop and this tool can also be used by managers and administrators to share messages across the whole business.
If you are using an app such as Microsoft Teams whilst self-isolating just be sure to keep your status updated for your availability, just to ensure your colleagues know when you are available and when you are busy or on lunch/a break.
Do you have any other useful tips? Let us know!