Home Working: Adjusting and accommodating a new way of working
For many of us, working at home might be commonplace and for some a totally new experience. Coupled with the extra challenges with children requiring support as they are now out of school for this extended period of time, home working may not be as straight forward as it sounds.
Don’t forget to ensure you have carried out a risk assessment at home; if your employer hasn’t asked you to do one yet, gently remind them this is for everyone’s peace of mind. Some employers have allowed employees to take home suitable chairs or equipment to ensure working at home is viable, especially if you have never worked at home before.
Find your space
Make sure you have a space to work in – sounds like a simple piece of advice but sitting on the sofa with your laptop with the telly on is probably not quite what is needed (and won’t do your back any good either!). Working from the best place for you doesn’t always mean sitting; you may have an area at home which means you can stand and work for short periods. If you also now have a partner working at home as many do, work out the best arrangements for noise levels, looking after children or quiet spaces if you need to take a call or attend an on line meeting.
Eat and drink well
Making sure you’ve eaten before you start work and taking time to eat will be really important for your energy levels, overall health and wellbeing. Tempting as it may be to grab a bit of toast and make the odd trip to the biscuit tin, you might quickly find your blood sugar levels dropping, making it harder to concentrate. You may not feel as hungry as your routine has changed but your brain still needs fuel! Stay hydrated too – aim to drink at least 2 litres of water a day if you can as this will help you feel energised and alert.
Move around and take a break
For us workaholics out there, it may be tempting to sit for hours and catch up on all that filing or emails you need to manage if you have downtime; make sure you take regular breaks away from the screen. Walk around, stretch, anything that gives you a break. Don’t forget to take the normal sort of breaks in your day you would at work and if you’re not sure, take a break at least every 45 minutes and build in time for lunch away from the area you are working in.
Working around the children
If you have children at home that need support, structure their day with yours as far as you can. Speak to your employer so they know what you need to consider in your new working day structure; a more flexible approach to getting work done around a different routine is likely to be needed. Schools have been giving great advice on how best to structure a ‘school’ day for children and with this period, everyone will need to adapt and be more flexible.
Keeping a routine
If homeworking is new to you, it’s highly recommended to stick to a routine to put some shape around the days you are expected to work. Make a plan with your employer and your teams to regularly check in, hold on line meetings using platforms like Teams from Microsoft, Zoom or GoToMeeting where you can see and talk to each other. Keep reviewing the plans you are making; do they work for you? What adjustments are needed to keep you feeling productive and happy?
Let’s keep talking to each other
Keeping a positive mindset is easy to say and often harder to achieve. As we start to adapt to this period of time which may last for some time, keeping in touch and talking to each other about work, family, life will go a long way to how we step forward in the future.
Where to go if you need support
The BPMA support MIND mental health charity who have published some great guidance on how to deal with isolation and working at home, plus other useful support which you can access here