As many of us swap our office cubicle for the kitchen table, an effective work from home protocol is the difference between success and failure
If you’re like me, your first few days of working from home were more akin to banging your head against a brick wall than actual work. Endless coffee breaks and time spent on BBC News were coupled with 30 minute lunch breaks, hijacked by Netflix, because I simply had to find out who would emerge triumphant between the ‘Tiger King’ and Carol Baskin. Needless to say, something had to change. One morning I began scouring the internet with bated breath, hoping to find a remedy to my work-from-home woes. Thankfully, my experiences were not unique, and a plethora of advice on how to successfully work from home was available, with 4 strong themes running throughout:
Get out of bed and dressed!
The lure of a comfy dressing gown and luxurious goose feather duvet has gotten the better of even the most strong-willed individual - trust me! And I would be remiss if I were to advise against indulging this newfound luxury of working from the comfort of your own bed at least once. But, surprise surprise, the room you’ve been relaxing in your entire life is not optimal for productivity, and there is a plethora of anecdotal and empirical evidence to suggest otherwise.
For me, getting suited and booted for daily household life is a bit overkill (although this has worked for the likes of John Cheever). Instead, I began to implement Philip’s suggestion of an unbuttoned, relaxed shirt styled on top of a superfine, pima cotton t-shirts. It get me out of my ‘lounge’ mentality, is comfy enough to wear for 8/9 hours and means those pesky surprise zoom calls are no longer greeted with a frantic scrabble to find some trousers and a t-shirt!
Keep your routine as similar as possible
Now you’re up and dressed, the key is to keep to your typical routine as much as possible. It alerts your brain that your day will be starting soon and that it needs to be ready. No replacing your 10 minutes bowl of cereal and coffee to with a full English and the latest Sh**ged Married Annoyed episode. No late starts and early lunches, because ‘you’ve earned it’ either! If you would normally start at 9, have your lunch at 1 and finish at 5, we recommended doing the same - the less disturbance to your routine, the less disturbance to your productivity.
Have a dedicated work area
Next, it is paramount to have a dedicated workspace. If not, the lines between work and home can become blurred. Unfortunately, as much as I tried to convince myself to the contrary, sprawling yourself across the sofa as ACDC’s greatest hits blare from your laptop is conducive for aggressive air guttering and some questionable vocals, but not much else. Instead, you should replicate your office conditions and minimise distractions as much as possible. You should be comfy, but not too comfy. This’ll also make it clear to the rest of your household (children, in particular) when you’re busy and when you’re not.
Get outdoors and exercise
The final piece of the WFH jigsaw is to get out in mother nature everyday- even if its just a 20 minute walk. The outdoors is a proven mood booster and provides a rare escape from our phone or computer screens. I’ve rekindle my love of running, which I find to be a brilliant tool to help transition from work to relax mode.