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Coronavirus: How To Survive Working From Home


If you’ve found yourself working from home for the first time this week, you might be a bit in shock, especially if you haven't done it before.

I've been working from home for just under 5 years. My head office is in London and I work from Edinburgh. I count myself lucky to have home-working flexibility and work for an excellent employer who trusts and supports me. I never thought that the events that are currently happening would close down offices and make office-based employees have to work from home though.

So, I'm putting my experience out there, in the hope that it helps people who haven't worked from home before.

This week you've probably been a bit bewildered (excited, maybe?) … you didn’t have that hellish commute (Yay) and you've gone from working in a busy office environment… to working from home, and maybe being alone. No colleagues, no friendly faces, no work gossip, no face to face human contact.

You might be looking around your home… Where do I work? How do I concentrate? Did you even know there were so many distractions in your home… radio, phone, TV, unlimited NetFlix… the list is endless. Family (which may include kids, ARGGHHH) and flatmates can also be a distraction.

Then there’s outstanding housework. This becomes so attractive to the procrastinator… clothes washing, vacuuming, toilets and floors needing cleaned. Be Warned.

Setting yourself up to work

If you’re lucky, you might have a desk in a room; or you might need to set up on your dining room table or it may be your sofa.

Be mentally work ready! Wait, what? I can’t sit in my PJs? I recommend you go through your normal morning ‘getting ready’ process. But dress for home. Wear comfy clothes, brush your hair and teeth. In all probability, you'll be doing meetings by video link. Embrace it.

Make yourself comfortable – this is vital; you don’t have the fancy computer chairs that you're used to in the office. Be mindful of your posture, especially if you don’t have a desk to work at. And if you’re prone to aches, keep stretching and moving around.

Music or no music?

I have an Amazon Dot. Granted she goes off and on a lot during the day depending on calls etc, but it takes away the silence, which will probably help you if you’re used to a bustling office.

Plan your day. Okay, sometimes we need to be reactive, but I find a plan is helpful for focusing your mind (particularly if my mind wanders to that washing pile).

Take regular breaks

Another vital one. Think about when you would’ve had a cuppa in the office. Do this at home too. Keep a note of the time – and remember your lunch break!

If that washing is piling up, pop in a load at your next coffee break.

Drink loads of water. Yes, I forget. But it’s more important than ever to keep drinking.

Be warned - the biscuit bin, bread bin, crisps bag, child’s treats etc... They are NOT your friend! I honestly don't know if I will emerge from this 2 stone lighter or 2 stone heavier.

This is the most important … For the time being anyway. GET OUT THE HOUSE AT LUNCHTIME!! Fresh air is awesome - but make sure to follow government advice and stay away from others.

Keep in touch

Being out of the office and your normal work setting can be tough, no time more so than now.

Make a conscious effort to speak to your teams (Heads of) and colleagues (maybe when you are making those coffees, arrange a virtual chat with them?), daily.

Use the tech that is available to you; Microsoft teams, WhatsApp, Zoom, WebEx and use the video. Seeing who we’re talking to helps us feel less isolated (and make you so glad you sorted your hair!).

Those of us with kids may already have them around, and so you may find there is an extra participant on your call. Please be patient with us as we juggle work and family life. Team pets joining video calls seem to be doing their bit for morale too!

Ask your employer what they have to support you. Wellness programmes should be kicking in right about now. Use resources available internally and externally. Think about your mental health, even if you haven't had any problems before. Even the most confident of us have had a few wobbles due to the amount of news we are consuming via news channels and all the 'experts' on social media. I have stopped notifications for now. Access help/mediate phone your mad friend for perspective. Access and start that online course you have been meaning to do for AGES!! Following other countries, we're going to be in this for longer than we hoped.

It is a bit cold just now, but try to keep windows open too wherever possible! o2 is really important.

Good luck... and don't forget to keep in touch!

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