For some people working from home is literally a dream come true. No long or cramped commute into the office, no office politics, taking an afternoon break for an online yoga class, working in comfy clothes, or perhaps even working while abroad (somewhere warmer than Ireland!). Sounds perfect, am I right?
Well, the truth is that remote working is pretty perfect! But, it’s not without its challenges as well – which I’m sure most of you are now aware of since we have all been working from home for nearly a year! The lines between “home” and “office” can get pretty blurred, meaning remote working can actually be more challenging to get right than a typical desk job.
There can be major learning curves when it comes to taking meetings remotely and communicating with colleagues virtually. It can be a major adjustment for a lot of people, but it’s important to look after yourself as well as your productivity levels.
Here at Mason Alexander, we have put together a few tips about what it takes to successfully work remotely. Don’t worry, it’s not over-complicated or anything. But it does take some planning ahead and a little tweaking until you figure out how it works best for you.
These tips will help you make sure that you’re successful, both at getting your work done, but also at maintaining your mental well-being during Ireland’s third nationwide lockdown.
Invest in a dedicated workspace or home office
One of the biggest challenges we are hearing when it comes to working remotely is keeping your work and home lives separate. For some people, the lines between “home” and “office” become very blurry. But if you never fully disconnect from work, your work productivity levels will suffer as a result plus your home life can also take a hit.
If you usually go into an office each day, the separation between work and home is physical. Therefore, you want to try to recreate that as much as possible with a designated physical workspace at home. Your workspace doesn’t have to be its own room, but it should feel as separate from the rest of your home as possible.
Entering your own separate workspace will help you turn “on” at the beginning of the day and get down to work. On the flip side, leaving your workspace will also help you switch “off” at the end of the day and fully disconnect.
The key here is to do whatever you need to do to “leave” your workspace and switch off properly.
Don’t work in your pyjamas
I’m sure there are days where it's super tempting to stay in your PJs all day (I know we have certainly considered it!). But resist the temptation! Getting up in the morning and starting your workday the way you would usually if you were commuting to an office will boost your productivity levels. This helps signal your brain that it’s time to work, not rest and relax.
This doesn’t mean you need to get up and put on an outfit you’d wear to the office. Yoga pants, jeans, t-shirts, hoodies, are all fine options. The point is to just have something you wear for work that isn’t the same thing you wear to bed. It helps draw the line between being at work and being at home.
Besides, just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean that no one from work will see you. It’s 2021 and we’re all used to having a lot of video meetings by now! Thank you 2020…
Take regular breaks
When you’re in the office you have colleagues coming up to you asking questions and you take regular tea breaks where you end up chatting to others. However, while working from home it can be very easy to just stay at your desk way longer than is healthy. To avoid this, make sure you schedule some time for regular breaks where you get up from your desk and move around. Grab a takeaway coffee in your local café or take a short walk. Getting up and out and about will do you a world of good and make you more productive afterward.
If you have issues with remembering to take breaks, set a timer for yourself!
Purposely engage with your colleagues
If you work with a team, try to make sure that you’re purposely engaging with that team every day. At Mason Alexander, we have daily “stand-up” meetings (done in Microsoft Teams) so we can communicate what we have planned for the day. Then we do team catch-up calls in the afternoon – which is more of a social chat!
We also have whole company chatrooms where we can all socialise and post things that aren’t work-related – this could be Netflix recommendations, games to do during lockdown, recipes – basically anything that the team will appreciate. Plus a lot of animated GIFs to keep us all entertained!
The key takeaway here is that communication with your team and the wider company is key!
Find your WFH “productivity playlist”
Our office in Mason Alexander is usually buzzing! So when we turned to working remotely it was a little strange at first for some employees. Working in a completely silent space when you’re not usually used to it, can make you feel super isolated sometimes.
We suggested to staff playing some music, white noise, nature sounds, movie soundtracks without lyrics anything really that helps! We even created our own Spotify Playlist!
Make sure you plan social interaction into your days
When you’re working remotely you’re cutting off a lot of the casual social interactions with colleagues that you’re used to having throughout the day. We forget that people need and enjoy being around others because it’s the small talk that keep your days feeling fun and unique, while also helping to prevent that hamster-wheel feeling. But when you work from home, you don’t have that.
Tackle this issue by chatting to your colleagues throughout the day through calls, text, Zoom, or whichever way your company communicates. Don’t forget to ask your colleagues about their weekend, or whatever you usually chat to them about in the office. Keep that up. These little interactions go a long way.
And don’t just check in with colleagues about this project or that TV show – make sure you really check in with them now and again. Lots of us are feeling anxious and uncertain right now during yet again another lockdown. Then suddenly, being isolated at home can amplify these feelings. Don’t hesitate to reach out to colleagues to ask how they’re doing.
When the world is freaking out, it’s more important than ever that we reach out to each other, connect, and take care of one another.
If you enjoyed this blog we also have a great guide, made by some of the team here at Mason Alexander – providing some tips and tricks on what has worked for them during previous lockdowns. The guide is ‘How to stay Happy & Productive’ when working remotely and you can read it here!
Take care and stay safe everyone!