28 March, 2020

Coronavirus: Working From Home Tips

The current COVID-19 crisis has seen many more of us working from home, possibly for the first time.  If this is you, you may find the following guide helpful.  Just remember working from home requires discipline and a different approach so don’t be too hard on yourself if it doesn’t come naturally.  For the sake of your future employment, though, it IS important that you get to grips with new ways of working and communicating.  Never before will work / life balance be so important, nor setting boundaries with those you love.

Table of Contents

Connection is Important: Stay Connected When Working from Home

One of the pitfalls of working from home is how isolating it can be. When you’re used to working in an office setting surrounded by other workers, it can suddenly feel quite lonely when you’re working by yourself. That’s why it is important to keep yourself connected to the outside world.

So, how can you stay connected when working from home? Here, you’ll discover some great tips to follow to ensure you don’t feel too isolated.

Host regular group chats with colleagues

As you won’t be seeing your colleagues face to face, it’s important to keep in touch digitally. Hosting regular group chats with colleagues can really help to keep you connected.

Ideally, you’ll want to set aside specific times to do this. Having a group chat first thing in the morning before you start work is a good idea. That way, you’ll be able to get clarification on any projects you’re working on together too.

Take advantage of social media

While you’ll want to limit social media while you’re working, it can still prove useful for staying in touch.
To ensure you don’t waste time on it, a good idea is to set aside specific social media times. This gives you the opportunity to keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues without it negatively impacting your productivity.

Utilize video calls

Technology has come a long way over the past decade. You don’t need to be in the same room as colleagues and clients to keep in touch. Instead, you can utilize video call software.

Whether you use something like Apple’s Facetime, Zoom or Skype, you can feel much more connected to people. Not only do you hear them, but you see them too which can make a big difference in limiting how isolated you feel.

Set reminders for birthdays and events

You can still celebrate special occasions and events such as birthdays, by setting yourself calendar reminders. This will ensure that even when you’re out of the office, you still stay connected with colleagues during these special times.

Respond to communication quickly

If you receive emails from colleagues and clients, make sure you respond quickly. When you’re working in isolation, waiting hours, or even days, just to get a reply can be tough. So, ensure your colleagues and clients don’t feel ignored by responding as quickly as you can to communication.

These are some of the best ways to stay connected when you’re working from home. It isn’t always easy, but if you make the effort, you’ll feel much less isolated. It can be a real shock to the system moving from office to home working. So, allow yourself a period of adjustment to deal with the changes and adopt a more flexible working approach.

How to Be Productive Working at Home

As convenient and beneficial as working from home can be, it can also prove to be damaging to productivity.

The trouble is, up until now, you’ve associated your home as a space for relaxing. So, it can be difficult switching to a more productive mindset when you’re in the comfort of your home.

The good news is, there are ways to boost your productivity when remote working. Here, you’ll discover some of the best ways to stay productive when working at home.

De-clutter your workspace

You’re going to find it hard to stay productive if your workspace is cluttered. So, before you start, take time to clean up the area you’re planning on working in.

Get rid of any clutter and organize the space. The cleaner and tidier the space is, the easier you’ll find it to focus on your work.

Take breaks to get out in the yard or garden

Suddenly being cooped up in the house all day can be detrimental to productivity. It can cause issues with low mood and leave you feeling less motivated to get through your workload.

By taking regular breaks and making time to get out into the yard, it can really boost those productivity levels. Spend just 10-15 minutes gardening or reading a book outdoors to help refresh productivity levels.

Always prepare for the day ahead

When you go out to work, you know there are things you need to do to get ready for the day. You have a routine which prepares you for work. However, when you start working from home you don’t really have that.

Rather than thinking you can now work in your pyjamas all day, make the effort to get dressed. Create a morning routine which sets you up for work. That way, you’ll find it much easier to stay productive if your mindset is geared towards work.

Utilize the power of nature

Did you know that plants and flowers can help you to feel more motivated? Adding them into your workspace can help to brighten up the working environment. Numerous studies have shown how effective greenery can be within an office environment. So, if you want an easy way to stay productive, add a few houseplants and flowers to your home office.

You can also utilize the power of scent too. In some countries, workplaces spray citrus scents to boost employee productivity. Try experimenting with different scents to see which ones make you work more efficiently.

Staying productive when working at home isn’t easy but it is doable. The above are some of the best methods you can try to increase those productivity levels. Taking regular breaks away from your computer is important, not just for productivity but for your health too.

How to Deal with Distractions

One thing you’re going to have to master when you work from home is minimizing distractions.

There are a lot of distractions you need to contend with such as household chores, the TV, social media and kids. So, how exactly should you deal with these distractions to ensure you can work more efficiently?

Below, you’ll discover some great tips to help you deal with distractions when working from home.

Use the distractions as a reward

Distractions don’t have to be a bad thing. They can be used to reward yourself after completing work tasks.

For example, if you love nothing more than to curl up in front of the TV watching your favourite shows, allow yourself the opportunity to watch something after completing a project.

Similarly, you could use social media in the same way. Once you’ve completed a task off your to-do list, reward yourself with a short period of time on your social media channels.

Using distractions as a reward can help to keep you focused and boost your motivation to get your work done.

Consider working in various parts of the home

It’s common to set aside just one place to work from. However, did you know you may find it more productive to work in various areas of the home?

It’s all about adding variety into your new working environment. Some days, the spare room may be the best place to get work done. Other times, you may find it more beneficial to work on the dining room table or in the back yard. Don’t limit yourself to where you can work, mix it up and watch your productivity levels increase.

Add a little background music

This tip might not be useful to everyone, but many professionals claim that working with background music on can limit their distractions. You’ll want to focus on calming music, rather than something that makes you want to sing along.

Alternatively, listening to podcasts and audiobooks in the background can also work well. So, if you struggle with productivity, try adding a little background noise and see if that helps.

Resolve to check emails sparingly

Checking emails is important when you work from home. However, it can also take up a lot of time. So, you’ll want to limit how many times you check them during the day.

Ideally, you’ll want to check them first thing in the morning, then after you’ve completed each task you’re working on.

Turn off notifications

Finally, a great tip is to turn off those notifications. Social media, news and app notifications can all prove really distracting when you’re working from home. So, turn them off until after work to boost productivity.

It’s not always easy limiting distractions when you work from home. However, the above are some of the most effective tips you can follow to deal with the distractions that may crop up.

Parenting, Working and Teaching: Steps to Help You Do All Three

The recent coronavirus outbreak has meant that millions of parents across the globe are now facing the impossible task of being a parent, worker and teacher.

Getting through your day is difficult enough when you’re trying to work from home with the kids. However, when you also have to home school them at the same time, it can prove to be a real nightmare.

If you’re trying to find the right balance in this unprecedented situation, there are some tips you can follow. Here, we’ll look at some of the steps you can take to accomplish your new role without losing your mind.

Create and work from a schedule

The one thing that’s going to prove invaluable during this time, is creating and maintaining a schedule. The kids need a schedule and you need one to help you keep up with your increased duties.

Start with making a schedule for the kids. You can include educational activities, playtime and mealtimes. When they know what they are working on and have a schedule to follow, it makes it so much easier for both them and you. Kids need a routine and they’ll be a lot happier when they’re following one.

Make time for physical activity

It can be tough trying to work when the kids have bundles of energy. So, why not help them burn off that energy so you can work in peace?

Getting them to partake in physical activity helps to wear them out as well as keep them healthy. So, encourage time running around in the back yard. You could create a mini assault course or look online for physical games you could play.

Once they’ve finished their physical activity, they will be more likely to play quietly for a period of time.

Don’t try and become a teacher

Now that the kids are off school, you may feel like you have to become a teacher. You really don’t. It’s not your job to research and familiarize yourself with the topics they cover at school.

Instead, focus on educational activities they can do such as reading. You can also set up things such as sensory buckets and let them use educational apps.

If the school provided digital work they can follow, don’t forget to utilize that too. If you look online, you might also find free workbooks they can use.

Talk through any issues with your employer

If you are having issues juggling everything, don’t be afraid to talk to your employer. They may give you additional days off so you can get used to the new arrangement.

Remember, there are a lot of people going through the same situation as you right now. It’s not easy but remind yourself that it is only temporary. The above tips will help you to better juggle your new responsibilities in the time being.

Setting Up a Work at Home Office

If you want to boost your productivity levels when working from home, it helps to set up an office. Having an area purely dedicated to working will help you to separate work from leisure.

The question is, how can you set up an effective home office environment? Here, you’ll discover some of the best ways to set up a work at home office and the key things to consider.

Consider how long you’ll be working from home

The first thing you need to think about is how long you’ll be working from home. If it’s only a very short period of time, it would be pointless investing in an entire home office set up. In this situation, it would be better to invest in just the essentials.

However, if you have the budget it could be worth setting up a permanent home office. That way, you’ll always have somewhere set up to work at home if needed.

Making sure you have the right equipment

You’re going to need some level of equipment to work from home. At the very least, you’re going to need a laptop or desktop computer and a desk.

If you aren’t setting up a permanent home office, you can use things such as the dining room table or a makeshift bedroom office. Some people are even getting creative and using an ironing board as a stand-up desk option.

Other things you’re going to need include a good internet connection and online security.

Ensure the space has plenty of natural sunlight

When you’re stuck indoors, you won’t be getting as much natural sunlight as you usually would. This can have an impact on how productive and motivated you are. Numerous studies have revealed the damaging impact limited natural daylight can have on worker’s in an office setting and the same applies at home.

So, make sure you’re going to be working in a part of the home which benefits from a lot of daylight. If there isn’t a space available, you might want to consider investing in a daylight bulb. These are designed to replicate natural daylight.

Focus on comfort

Your home office should be a comfortable place you can work too. This means, providing plenty of support for your back if you’re working at a desk for example.

If you aren’t comfortable, you’re not going to get much work completed. You’ll also find it beneficial to surround yourself with things that make you happiest, such as photos of the family and plants or flowers.

These are some of the basics you should consider when setting up a home office. Whether you’re setting up a permanent or temporary office space, you need to ensure it has everything you need and it’s quiet and comfortable to work in.

Tech That Can Help When You’re Working from Home

When you’re working from home, there are a lot of challenges you need to contend with. Reduced productivity, time management and motivation can all be problematic when you’re trying to get work done. However, the good news is there are things available out there which can help.

You can invest in a lot of different technology these days. When implemented correctly, the right tech can make working from home a breeze. Here, we’ll look at some of the top tech you’ll want to invest in when working from home.

A decent router

As you’ll be relying upon the internet to work from home, it’s important to make sure you have a good router. If you’ve had your existing router for a while now, you might want to consider upgrading.

The more reliable and modern your router is, the less likely it’s going to cause issues when you’re working from home. So, if your router is pretty old, consider asking your provider to send a newer one. Or, you can invest in one yourself if need be.

Network security

Another thing you’re going to need is network security. This is especially true if you work within a data-sensitive industry. At the very least, you’ll want to get a VPN set up so you can work privately away from the prying eyes of hackers.

You’ll also want to make sure you’ve got good virus protection in place. The latest internet security will help to keep you safer while working from home.

Noise-cancelling headphones

Noise can be a real problem when you’re trying to work at home. So, to block it out you might want to consider investing in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. This will help you to better focus on your workload and drown out any distractions such as the TV.

Obviously, it’s going to be hard to use noise-cancelling headphones if you have kids to look after. However, you could always use them while the kids are busy watching a film or having a nap.

Online tools

Did you know there are some great online tools you can use when you’re working from home? Task management software is especially useful, and you can use a lot of it absolutely free.

You have a number of options when it comes to task management software such as Asana, Basecamp and Trello. Make sure you compare the different tools available before choosing the best one for your needs.

These are some of the top pieces of tech you’ll need to work from home more effectively. You don’t need a huge budget, although it’s best not to opt for the cheapest security software for example. Know where to spend and where you can cut back, such as with free online tools.

Time Management Hacks When You Work at Home

Out of all of the issues that home working presents, time management is one of the most problematic. How can you get everything you need to get done completed when there are increased distractions to contend with?

Below, you’ll discover some great time management hacks you can implement when you work at home.

Avoid trying to multi-task

It’s common to try and multitask when you’re working at home. Whether it’s trying to work on two different projects at the same time or trying to work and take care of the kids, multi-tasking can prove detrimental to your productivity.

Instead, you’ll need to focus on just one task at a time. When you focus on just one thing, it makes you far more productive. Similarly, grouping similar tasks together can help you to complete them much quicker.

Set yourself realistic deadlines

A good time management tip when you’re working from home is to set realistic deadlines. You’ll want to compile a list of the most important tasks you need to complete that day. Then, work on them in order.

Set yourself a specific amount of time for each task. You’ll find this really helps to keep you focused on the job at hand. When you work to deadlines, it helps you to get more work done in a shorter timescale.

This is because you’re much less likely to check things such as social media when you know you only have a set amount of time to complete what you’re working on.

Take advantage of productivity tools

If you take a look online, you’ll find a lot of productivity tools available. Many of these are free to use and they help to boost productivity when working remotely.

Task management tools are especially great for productivity. They enable you to keep in touch with the team, organize tasks and see exactly what needs to be completed.

You can even find time management tools online. These enable you to better utilize your time, ensuring you get the most important tasks done first.

Eliminate distractions

One of the biggest challenges you’re going to face in terms of time management is distractions. There are a lot of distractions when you’re working from home. Whether it’s the phone ringing, the temptation to check social media, or the television; it’s easy to procrastinate with so many distractions around you.

This is why it’s really important to work in a quiet space away from distractions. Again, you could also purchase noise-cancelling headphones to ensure you don’t get distracted by surrounding noise while you’re trying to work.

Time management can be difficult when you’re working from home. However, the tips above can really help you to minimize the challenges it presents.

Transitioning to Work at Home

If you are forced to work from home due to the global coronavirus crisis, the initial joy of being able to work from home can be quickly replaced by worry, a lack of motivation and never-ending distractions.

How on earth do you get things done when there are so many distractions? While home working can deliver a lot of benefits, there are a lot of challenges it presents too.

Here, you’ll discover some useful tips you can follow when it comes to transitioning to working from home.

Set up a quiet working space

With all of the distractions at home, it can be really hard to concentrate on work. This is especially true if you have kids at home. So, if you want to ensure you can get things done in peace, it’s worth setting up a quiet working space.

Try and use a room that isn’t frequently used during the day. Place a sign on the door when you’re trying to work to let others know not to disturb you. Make sure the workspace is comfortable too as you won’t get a lot done if you aren’t comfortable.

Start as early as possible

One of the main challenges that can come from working from home is delaying the time you usually start. It’s tempting to have a lie-in and take longer to relax in the morning before starting. However, this only zaps your productivity.

If you want to ensure you stay productive, you’ll want to start as early as possible. The positive side to this is that the earlier you start, the earlier you’ll get to finish.

Set social media limits

You’ll have a lot more time to check in on social media when you haven’t got the boss breathing down your neck. However, it’s easy to waste hours using social media accounts if you aren’t careful.

Many home workers find it useful to set limits on their social media use during working hours. It could be simply committing to using it during a specific time for example. Having limits in place makes you more aware of how much you’re using it.

Maintain your usual “get ready” routine

It’s really important to try and maintain your usual routine. This means, getting ready for work in the same way you usually do. So, wake up at the same time, have your usual cup of coffee and get dressed in your work clothes. It’s amazing how much of a difference this can make to your productivity.

These are just a few tips you can follow when transitioning to working from home. It can be a big adjustment, but there are lots of tools and tips out there to help. Trying to maintain your usual routine is one of the best things you can do during these changing times.

Ways to Work with Kids in the House

If you’re stuck working from home with the kids, there’s no doubt it’s going to be challenging! Any parent knows that getting anything done with their kids around can be almost impossible sometimes.

However, there are some great tips you can follow to make working from home with the kids much easier. It’s all about finding the right balance. Here, you’ll learn some of the best ways you can effectively work from home even with kids in the house.

Plan engaging activities

When you need to get on with an important project, it can help to get the kids immersed in an engaging activity. Craft projects tend to be a popular option. They are fun for the kids, and they take a while to complete.

You’ll find hundreds of craft project ideas online. Try and find something which utilizes supplies you already have in the home. Then, they can be getting on with their crafts while you complete your important work tasks.

Create a routine early on

Working from home and having the kids home all day is a new experience for both you and them. Therefore, it’s going to help if you create a routine as early as you can.

Kids thrive with a routine so make sure you all have set wake up, meal and bedtimes. Try and schedule time you can spend together on your breaks too. That way, they are still getting one to one attention from you, reducing the likelihood they’ll pester you when you need to get on with work.

Take advantage of nap times

If your kids are still quite young, make sure you take advantage of nap times. These are the perfect opportunity for you to get a bulk of your work done without having to worry about the kids.

Ensure you have a quiet workspace

One thing you’re going to need when you’re working from home with the kids is a quiet workspace. It should be away from all distractions and ideally, you shouldn’t be disturbed while you’re there.

Of course, this can be tricky, but if you explain to the kids that you can’t be disturbed and why it’s important, you’ll find they are typically willing to listen.

Utilize technology

In usual times, you try to limit your child’s exposure to technology. However, when you’re trying to work from home, you’ll find technology can be a real help.

When you don’t want to be disturbed, let the kids watch a movie or play on a smartphone or tablet device. This will keep them occupied for a longer period of time, allowing you to take that conference call for example.

It’s not easy working from home with the kids, but it isn’t impossible either. Follow the above tips to make it that little bit easier during these difficult times.

What to Do When You Don’t Have Supportive Employers or Managers

Working from home can be a real struggle when you aren’t used to it. However, it can be made wore when you don’t have supportive employers or managers.

During difficult times, it is crucial employers are transparent and supportive with their employees. So, what can you do if yours isn’t?

Here, you’ll discover some of the key steps you can take if you feel you aren’t being fully supported.

Let them know how you feel

The first step you should take if you feel your employer or manager isn’t being supportive is to talk to them. This can be intimidating, but your employer may not even realize how you feel.

It’s a good idea to write down what you want to say. Try and think of ways you feel they could be more supportive too. They may ask you what you’d like them to do or how they could help so having a list available will be useful.

Team up with other coworkers

If you don’t get anywhere after talking to your employer, it’s worth teaming up with your coworkers. Chances are, they are being treated in the same manner.

There is a lot of power in numbers. So, if your coworkers are also experiencing the same issues, you’ll stand a better chance of changing how you are being treated if you stand together.

Again, try and talk to your employer together, or if that fails try and speak to someone higher up in the company.

Talk to HR if you need to

While your manager is usually the person you talk to when you experience problems, you can also speak to HR. If you are experiencing an issue with your employer, they are the people you should turn to first.

There will be policies which need to be followed and it’s the HR teams’ job to make sure they are implemented. So, any issues need to be reported to them as quickly as possible.

Search for a new job

If all else fails and your employer still isn’t being supportive, it could be worth seeking new employment. In the current economic situation that may sound impossible. However, if you’re at home it’s never been a better time to search for alternative employment.

The pandemic won’t last forever. When it’s over, do you really want to continue to work for a company that doesn’t support you? Consider taking online courses too if you need to top up your skills. This will make you more employable once you’re ready to make the switch.

Nobody should have to deal with an unsupportive manager or employer. Remember, the current situation is temporary and there is lots of support available online. Follow the advice above and if you feel your employer is breaking the law or putting you at risk, don’t hesitate to take your complaint further.

Working Through Stress and Uncertainty

Are you struggling to focus on work with everything going on in the world right now? If so, you’re certainly not alone.

Working through uncertain and stressful times isn’t easy. In fact, it can feel almost impossible when your mind is so taken up by fear and anxiety.

If you’re struggling right now, there are some tips you can follow which may help. Here, we’ll look at some of the most effective ways to work through stress and uncertainty.

Practice gratitude

Did you know that practising gratitude can make a big difference in how you feel? Studies have shown that writing a list of the things you are grateful for, can drastically improve your mood.

By focusing on the things you’re grateful for, it trains the brain to think more positively. You’ll switch your focus from the bad things going on right now, to the good. For example, working from home may be challenging, but at least you’re safe and have a home to work from.

Try to establish a routine

Now that you’ve found yourself working at home, it can feel really strange. You don’t know how to navigate your working day when you’re not in the office. So, by creating a routine, it’s going to help to ease some of that uncertainty.

Have a set time that you wake up and start work. Make sure you schedule in breaks throughout the day and have a set finish time too. Just implementing a routine can erase so much of the uncertainty you feel right now.

Utilize support that’s available

One of the good things about this uncertain time is that it is impacting everyone. This means there is a lot of support available out there.

It could be you need to spend more time connecting with friends and family. Or, you may find it useful to share your concerns with others in online support forums.

You can also find more practical support too. If you’re struggling with your finances or worried about how the current situation will play out, don’t hesitate to seek emotional support from a trained therapist for example.

Focus on self-care

Finally, try and focus on self-care during these uncertain and stressful times. This will really help to reduce the stress you feel.

Exercising regularly is a great way to deal with stress. You should also focus on doing things that relax you each day, such as meditation, reading or listening to music. The more you practice self-care, the less stressed you’ll be throughout this time.

Overall, it’s hard not to stress and fear what might happen during a pandemic. However, the tips above can really help you to manage those feelings. Remember to be kind to yourself and don’t expect too much from yourself, particularly when you first transition to working from home.

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