In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, working from home quickly became the new normal for many professionals. Although many will have worked from home from time to time before the lockdown, for the vast majority, operating in this way for a sustained period is a new experience, one which is bringing fresh challenges the longer it goes on. Whether it is maintaining motivation or juggling childcare with work tasks, some tactics which proved successful previously may no longer be working – and it could be well worth a bit of a shake-up.
For some fresh perspectives and ideas, we have been speaking to recruitment consultants from across our business for their top tips on how they have been approaching working from home since social distancing measures were brought into place. Here’s what they had to say:
Setting yourself up for success and planning your day
As social distancing measures could be extended for more weeks yet, it is important to ensure you are setting yourself up for success while working from home. Your approach to the working day will likely be very different than what it was when you were going into an office.
- Create a workspace free from distractions.
- Write a to-do list each night and set yourself targets for the following day.
- Get up and start your day early – give yourself some headspace before you need to log in.
"I’ve found different rooms have different effects on my concentration – so testing which room allows you to engage the best is important. Sometimes simply changing the room you base yourself in can ‘freshen’ the environment for a day.”
Matt Scarfe, Michael Page
Working from home with other people
Many families or housemates have had to carefully navigate how to work from home at the same time, often in close proximity. This can be particularly tricky when important virtual meetings are taking place or key tasks need to be completed. Here’s what we have found can help:
- Have a house schedule highlighting key calls and meetings to ensure distractions are kept to a minimum during those times.
- Plan a combined lunchtime each day and ensure each other is keeping their full hour work free.
- Keep on top of household chores, keep clutter to a minimum, and limit the amount of work equipment in shared spaces, where possible.
“We all separate into different rooms to do our work. This has helped massively with concentration and privacy when making phone calls. Despite usually working in a busy and loud open-plan office, I have found separating myself from the people I live with much easier in the day."
Lauren Messias, Michael Page
Managing your physical and mental wellbeing
For those who have never worked from home before or for extended periods of time, it can be easy to fall into poor habits and feelings of loneliness may be overwhelming.
- Get outside; get out into the garden or go for your daily walk, whilst staying within the social distancing rules.
- Keep in constant contact with friends, colleagues, and family.
- Spend time doing an activity away from a screen: read a book, play a board game, or get creative in the kitchen.
- Create a workout schedule and stick to it.
- Move around when taking calls instead of staying seated.
- Go for a run/walk on your breaks or do some gardening.
"I make sure I keep up with my exercise routine and try to go for a walk around the block at lunchtime or sit out in the garden.”
Emma Gregson, Page Personnel
Optimising your work breaks
For many, this period of transition has been one of increased stress and higher workloads. When managing a crisis, it is common for professionals to throw themselves into work, putting in longer hours and failing to take a break. However, this is sure to lead to burnout.
- Block out a lunch hour in your work diary.
- Take regular short breaks, take an extra five minutes for yourself when making a coffee or have a chat to your housemates.
- Call your friends and family throughout the day. Have a non-work-related chat to someone you are close to.
“My partner, my housemate, and I make sure we take the same lunch break so we can catch up on the day - we make sure this is a full hour. As I work next to the kitchen, I also make coffees for the house.”
Oliver Burr, Page Personnel
Switching off at the end of your working day
The lines between your working hours and personal time are likely to have blurred in the move to remote working. If you are finding it difficult to disconnect from work at the end of the day, here are our top tips to help ensure you are completely switching off:
- Turn off your work phone and shut down your computer.
- Do not check work emails in the evening: create clear mental barriers between work and social time.
- Make after-work plans, no matter how small: a Zoom call with friends, a daily run, time to watch your favourite TV series or read a book.
“After my end of the day meeting with the team. I put my desk away, switch off my phone, and ensure nothing from work is visible. That way my living room feels like a living room again and not an office.”
Eamonn Richardson, Page Personnel
If you would like to speak to one of our specialist consultants for information on how we can support you, your team, or your business at this time, please get in touch with your local specialist consultant for a confidential discussion.