It can be hard adjusting to the ‘new normal’ but here are my working from home tips in the time of COVID-19: how you can manage a work/life balance and still be creative during coronavirus lockdown? Here are a few of the things that have proved useful for me.
Working from home tips
As creative director of Dialogue, it’s been a while since I ventured into my place of work – and I know it’s the same for you in our creative industries. Working from home has become the new normal as has seeing our colleagues via a video call.
But how do we prevent our work from home life from crossing over into our living at home life?
1. Create a workspace
Set up your home office in a spare room or in the corner of a room that you might not use often. This is a great way to try and maintain some difference from where you work and where you live. If you do end up with your home office in the lounge or dining room, then make sure you put your office away and out of sight come the hometime bell on a Friday.
2. Commute to work
Rolling out of bed in your PJs and stumbling across the landing into your workspace isn’t necessarily the best thing to be doing – even if it is rather amusing. Instead, stick to your usual work routine. Get up at the same time, embark upon your usual pre-work routines, but instead of jumping into the car, why not head for your daily walk in the morning? The ritual of travelling to work can be all you need to give you that oomph to get you ready mentally for work.
3. Stand up
Whether you’re using a full monitor-desk-chair set up, or perched at the dining table with a laptop, working from home in a less formal setting can lead to bad posture. Sitting for long periods of time in chairs not designed for working at a computer can lead to back and neck pain. Simply by standing for a few minutes each hour you can keep yourself loose and hopefully prevent any nasty back pain from creeping in. Those with Apple watches can switch on the stand reminder that will give off a little nudge to stand when it detects that you have been sitting in the same position for too long.
4. Manage performance pressure
My wife commented that I seem a lot less stressed when working from home – and while this may be true for many, we might be pouring on pressure in a different way. Being productive when you are with your team in the office can be a lot easier to measure and while some of us thrive working in isolation, to others it can often feel like we aren’t being as productive as we could be. These are difficult (and scary) times, so don’t put extra pressure on yourselves – accept that you will have good and bad days. To help manage this, make a plan of what you hope to achieve in each week – don’t go too gung-ho – lay out three things you would like to get done in the week.
5. Take a break
Breaking for lunch may seem a little odd nowadays with no shops to browse or coffee shops to frequent, but don’t discredit that midday break. One of the best tips for working efficiently from home during coronavirus lockdown is to take regular breaks from your screen. Spend your lunch making a hearty meal, read a book or catch up with the kids on how their morning has been while they are home schooling (if you’re struggling with this element check out our blog on home schooling ideas). Otherwise use the time to take a stroll for your daily exercise or sit out in the garden to get a change of scenery and a breath of fresh air. Taking a break can be key to keeping refreshed and productive.
6. Don’t sit in silence
If you are missing the hustle and bustle of the office, there are plenty of websites offering that background noise you might be ‘missing’ – imisstheoffice.eu. Alternatively fire up Spotify and crank out your favourite tunes – now is the time to be playing the music that your colleagues would otherwise be complaining about! There are also plenty of amusing playlists to discover that make light of our current situation – Now That’s What I Call COVID-19 anyone?
7. Have some virtual fun
If you miss the company of colleagues there are plenty of virtual hangouts that can be used for an after work beer on a Friday. A group of us at Dialogue love to play games during lunchtime on a Friday and we haven’t let working from home stop that. https://boardgamearena.com/ is a website that has virtual versions of some of the best board games – Colt Express and Saboteur being our firm favourites. Give it a go, while it’s not the same as playing games over the tabletop it’s still a lot of fun!
8. Stay healthy at home
Keeping active can be the biggest challenge for many of us but like the virtual board games, you can engage in many online workouts. Instead of working out your muscles, work on your own mindfulness – being stuck in isolation can be quite the mental strain so try out online pilates or yoga – just search YouTube – to keep your mind in the moment rather than thinking too deeply about work stresses or worrying about the future.
Sleep is essential to keep ourselves healthy and there are many apps to help you drift away to the calming sounds of nature – Calm and Headspace are super apps – I find that the Relax Melodies app works wonders at providing a block in preventing my subconscious from drifting into thinking about work.