As we all adjust to a new way of working,including staff of course, it’s crucial to remember to look after ourselves. NGHS alumna, Sophia Collins, has been working from home for many years and has some sound advice.
I’ve been working from home for about 18 of the last 20 years. And managing remote teams for most of that time. In case it’s useful, here are a few working from home tips from me.
Actually get up, get dressed, and go for a walk (if you can, bearing in mind current restrictions) before you start work. By careful experimentation, I have found that if I just get up and stagger to my desk in my PJs, then I faff about all day and don’t get much done. Whereas if I get dressed, get out and get exercise and natural light, then I’m ten times as productive and focused.
Even if you’ve got up late and feel like you don’t have time for a walk, it’s worth doing. The productivity gains outweigh any time saving from missing out the walk.Sunlight is good for you. And getting some natural light early in the morning is crucial for keeping your circadian rhythms on track. Step out into the garden if you’re not able to go for a walk.
Stay healthy, keep busy
Have a glass of water on your desk. You are 1 million times more likely to drink enough water if it’s right there.
I also advise healthy snacks – apples, other fruit, carrot sticks – on your desk. If it’s there, you will eat it. If it’s not there, you will start fancying a biscuit, wander through to the kitchen, and end up eating 4 biscuits and some cheese on toast. Or maybe that’s just me.
It’s fine to put on the washing machine, or do other chores in between work tasks. You’re saving loads of time not commuting, passing on messages to colleagues, listening to the latest on Sadie’s wedding plans . . .
Use chores to break up the day. It’s a good idea to move from your seat every 20 mins or so anyway. Also, to rest your eyes from the screen by looking at something further away. “When I’ve written these emails, I’ll put the kettle on and fill the washing machine.”
I know that doesn’t seem like much of a treat, but you take your fun where you can get it in the WFH game.
Stay connected, keep in touch
The biggest difference you will notice from working in an office is the lack of other people. At first you will appreciate the lack of distractions (I get so much more done when working from home).
But then something vaguely interesting will happen, and you’ll want to tell someone. If you’re not careful at this point, you’ll just blurt out “I spilled coffee on my trousers!”, to the postman.
The more emotionally affecting the thing, the bigger the blurting pressure. And no-one wants to be telling a cold caller from Oxfam about the nightmare you’ve had with the boiler this morning. Ask me how I know.
This is what Slack/Whatsapp/Jabber etc is for. Tell your colleagues. The team that moans together stays together. If your boss – or a prissy co-worker – complains, tell them that it’s important for team cohesion.
But have a separate channel for random chat, so that all the important stuff doesn’t get lost.
That’s pretty much all I’ve learned from 18 years. I’ll leave the last word to the very wise