This week has been one of the most difficult for many a year. It been very emotional and depressing at times. I have a feeling it’s going to get worse before it gets better. However, one thing I have noticed is that lots of people are getting to grips with the challenges of working from home. I have been working from home for more than 20 years so here are my top six tips.
Tip 1 Maintain a routine
Most people think that it’s easy to get distracted at home and you won’t get your work done. However in my experience it very different, you will miss the social interaction and meeting with your colleagues. As a result, you may find that you are working harder. It’s all too easy to start early and work late without the rhythm of a normal working day. So stick to your normal pattern, start at your normal work time and stop when you normally finish time. Resist temptation, if at all possible, to work in the evening or weekend. And remember to take a break at lunchtime, even if it’s ten minutes.
Tip 2 Take Exercise
You will be missing the normal commute to the office, walking around the office to meeting and even the walk across the car park. Without exercise, you will go stir crazy after 3 -days. Try to go for a 10 to 20-minute walk before you start. Current advice from the chief medical officer is that individual exercise outside is still allowed. I always try it to take a walk before starting work, I so much more productive. If you can do a sport in the garden even better. I do archery and I have a small range in the garden where I can practice at lunchtime.
Tip 3 Sort out your space, chair, desk and screen
You will find that you spend more time at your desk and less time in meetings. Even more, if your meetings have moved on-line. If you are going to sit hunched over a laptop, on a kitchen chair for the next 3 months you will suffer. Get a proper office chair, a decent screen, even if your company won’t pay for it. You will need it for the good of your physical health. If you can set up as separate space to work from, do it.
Tip 4 Sort out your on-line conference facilities
I have had so many bad web meetings this week, but with a bit of planning, you can vastly improve your on-lien presence in web meetings. Think about three things. Sound, Camera and Lighting.
Sound: Get a decent headset I use the PC8 USB Sennheiser, which is a really good headset and only cost £29. Don’t rely on the microphone in your laptop, you will sound awful and no one will want to listen to you.
Camera: The webcam in your laptop is in the wrong position. People will be looking up your nose at the ceiling. Get a cheap webcam you can mount at eye level, normally on top of a monitor.
Lights: Backlighting or lighting from a window behind you is terrible, no one can see you. Place a table lamp to the right of your screen, you will look like a film star.
LinkedIn Learning has a great course in this area, with some good tips.
Also, find a platform you like and stick with it. We have found that Adobe Connect works well for us to deliver training with external customers although for internal meetings Microsoft Teams, which comes with our 365 package is really simple to use.
Tip 6 Stay in Touch With your Team
Lots of people I have spoken to are struggling with all the news and the new working environment. Even though we have worked at home for many years, we have been scheduling daily video calls for the whole team, just to stay in touch. The feedback from the team has been very positive, especially for those people who live alone. We just share news, discuss the overall situation, share with the team how the company is doing and we do have an action plan. The action plan has been great if give us all some sense of control. We can all do our bit, and it keeps us busy, rather than worrying.
So I hope you find these tips useful and please leave your own ideas in the comments below.