Working from home: our 7 top tips
26 March 2020
Here are our top tips for working from home, staying in touch with your team and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
The current crisis has seen us all make changes to our daily lives. Most people are now working from home indefinitely, which brings new challenges. Some people love working remotely and others hate it, but it’s something we all have to get used to for a while.
1. Get comfortable
Firstly, it’s important that your work space is as comfortable as possible. If you have an office chair then that’s a great start, but if not, try to work somewhere that has plenty of back support.
For more information, the NHS has advice about how to sit correctly.
Ideally your screen should be at eye-height when sat up straight, and your feet should touch the floor. If working on a laptop, having a separate keyboard to plug in will help, as you can keep the keyboard on the desk and raise the laptop to eye-level – either with a stand or a pile of books.
2. Establish a routine
Waking up at the same time every day will help your body clock develop a pattern and make you feel ready for work. A morning routine can also help get into the mindset of work – the My Whole Self campaign recommends getting ready, washed and dressed as if you were going to the office.
A routine for the structure of your working day will also help. Many of us working in the public sector operate on flexitime which is a great benefit.
But it’s important to set boundaries and make sure to keep that balance between work life and home life. Try to decide on working hours and stick to them each day.
3. Check in with colleagues
Keeping in touch with your colleagues is always important. When everyone is working from home it’s easy to feel a bit disconnected and miss those conversations in the office.
Whether it’s about something you’re working on together or just a chat about what you did at the weekend, conversation with colleagues is important for team spirit.
And that’s no different when everyone is working remotely. Thankfully modern technology allows many options for us to keep in touch. Using video chat tools is a good idea for checking in with colleagues or holding remote meetings.
If you don’t have many meetings scheduled, have a short video call with a member of your team just for a general chat. Or you could even get the whole team connected and do a group video call to say hello!
This is especially important for employees who live alone or are self-isolating. The BBC provides more top tips for video calls in this video. We like the idea of having virtual coffee breaks with colleagues.
4. Create separation
Trying to separate home life from work life can be difficult when we are all now spending the majority of our time at home.
But there are a couple of things you can do to create that separation. The best way is to set up a home office in a different room and keep this as your designated work space.
When you finish work for the day, leave the room and don’t go back in there until you start work the following morning. If setting up a specific home office isn’t possible, then try to work in a different room to where you spend most of your evening.
For example if you spend your evenings in the living room, then try working at the kitchen table. If you’re working with a very small space, one idea is to hang up some sheets to try and create physical separation between your work space and relaxing space.
It’s really important to get moving – for both physical and mental health. Try to go for a walk or a run each day (remembering that under current guidelines, you can only go alone or with other members of your household).
For those unable to go outside, there are plenty of options to get some exercise indoors. Try doing daily stretches and looking for home workout videos online. Our colleagues at North Yorkshire County Council recommend the following resources:
You could also use a games console (such as a Wii Fit) if you have one, to keep fit during lunchtimes and after work. (Please take extra care while keeping fit if you have an underlying condition or advice from your doctor about exercising.)
6. Take proper breaks
Make sure that you take a break for lunch and also regular screen breaks during the day. As a minimum, you should have a 20 minute break every six hours. Our communications officer Hannah says:
“I always recommend taking the time to make a good lunch. Doing a physical activity of preparing and cooking food gives you a nice break from sitting at your laptop, and of course having something nice to eat always makes the day a little better!”
7. Don’t forget data protection
Data protection and security might be the last thing on your mind but it is still crucial, and even more so when working from home. The current situation is unprecedented but normal rules about personal data still apply and are important to follow.
Our CEO Max recommends:
“You should take all reasonable precautions when working from home, especially around personal data. Don’t leave laptops or documents unattended where family members or others in your household can view them. Particularly sensitive information should be secured in a safe place. Remember to lock your laptop and other devices when not in use, and keep your passwords secure.”
Read our articles on how to keep data secure while working remotely, and what to do if you send an email to the wrong person.
The Information Commissioner’s Office has more guidance in their new data protection and coronavirus information hub.
For more support if feeling anxious or isolated, there are many organisations who can help including: