Working from home can bring with it a number of challenges, whether they be in-home distractions or general technology frustrations. However, it can also be an isolating and even lonely experience, especially if you are new to it.
So, what can you do to look after your wellbeing when working from home? How can you create healthy boundaries between your work and personal lives, stay mentally and physically healthy whilst still being a productive and effective worker?
1. Maintain regular hours and routine: Humans are creatures of habit, so a regular schedule is important – set one, and stick to it. If you are new to home working, try to adhere to your normal office routine as much as possible. Get up, get dressed and ‘arrive’ at your desk 5 to 10 minutes early to go through emails and create your daily task list. Then, when the working day is done, log off and focus instead on your personal activities to avoid burnout.
2. Create a comfortable and clutter-free workspace: Even if you aren’t lucky enough to have a study space or spare bedroom with a door, you can still create a work ‘zone’. Keep it free from clutter and away from household paraphernalia – this will help ensure you are not distracted by children or chores when you are working. Try to only work when you are in this space, creating a physical and mental boundary between your work and your personal life.
3. Be a home worker, not a lone worker: Communication really is the key to not feeling isolated or alone. Work out how you would like to communicate with colleagues, try not to have too many lines of communication open, as this can prove distracting, and keep in touch at regular intervals throughout the day. Whilst most communications should of course be about work, try to begin and end the day with more personal conversations.
4. Face-to-face is still best: Wherever possible, communicate with your colleagues via video chats. Face-to-face conversations help you feel more connected and are typically more engaging than conference calls. There are a wealth of technologies available to help facilitate this. Just remember to check you’re dressed appropriately and your backdrop to ensure you’re comfortable with what your co-workers will see on their screens.
5. Take a break: Like any working environment, it is important to take the occasional break to let your brain and body relax. Take a 10-minute walk, make some lunch or catch up with a friend over the phone. Short breaks will help give you the ability to refocus on your work tasks – ultimately supporting both your productivity and mental health.
6. Maintain your physical health: Eat well, sleep well and exercise well – these are the three cornerstones of good physical health, and they should not be ignored just because you are working at home. There are plenty of at home exercise tutorials online which cover the full range of ability levels – from the fittest amongst us to the athletically challenged – and serve as a great way to break up the day. Furthermore, don’t skip lunch and don’t compromise your sleep.
7. Remember to reflect: Here at Hays, we like to end each day of remote working with a team call during which we each run through a ‘win, learn and change’: something we have succeeded at, something we have learned and something we are excited to change tomorrow. Even if it’s not to other people, it’s important you take a step back and really reflect on the day. Recalling your successes and highlights whilst looking forward to the next day with optimism will help ensure a positive outlook.
It can be difficult to adjust to working from home. However, if you set healthy boundaries and prioritise your mental and physical wellbeing, you can keep your morale high and continue to be a productive employee.
About this author
Thea is responsible for the UK & I marketing team as well as driving the strategic direction of the marketing function, looking closely at opportunities for growth, positioning in the marketplace and sales support. She was appointed to the Hays UK & I Board in July 2017, following joining the UK business in the summer of 2016.
Prior to her current role she was the Vice President of Marketing for the Hays Americas business, joining the business in 2012. Under her management she built the marketing function from general support to a strategic driver of sales, establishing a central marketing unit supporting Canada, US and four Latin American countries.