Unfortunately, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic means that there is no opting-out from telecommuting, and offices around the world are having to quickly adjust to working from home indefinitely.
It is difficult for everyone. For many, this is more than just adjusting to working from home for the first time: it’s doing so while dealing with the stress of a global pandemic.
There are plenty of books and articles out there on how to stay productive working from home, but we found that many of the classic telecommuting tips don’t really apply to this specific situation. So, we moved the conversation to our company chat and asked our RealVNC colleagues (some of whom aren’t the biggest fans of full-time remote working), what they are doing to help ease the WFH load.
This is what they came up with:
1. Regular breaks
Set an alarm a couple of times a day (the pomodoro technique is useful here) to make you get up and make a drink or get a snack. Think about how many times you go to the kitchen for another cuppa when you’re in the office – not only does it make you get up and stretch your legs , but it also fosters social interaction with coworkers other than those in your immediate desk area. Try coordinating your breaks with others and have a quick call or set up a video conference room for people to drop in and out of when they take a break.
2. Outdoor time
It’s no secret that the sun and fresh air can play a big part in lifting your mood, so if you’ve got access to an outside space, make sure to utilize it and soak up those rays. Of course, if you’re in the UK like us, the weather might scupper those plans entirely…
When you’re not at the office, you’re missing out on more exercise than you realize. Getting to and from the bus stop twice a day, walking to the shops to grab a meal deal, or going for a stroll during the lunch break – it all counts, and it’s a lot easier to move around less at home. There are many fitness apps available and no shortage of home workout videos out there, and a lot of them are currently free to help people exercise while stuck indoors. It can be difficult to get the motivation to work out alone, so try to get others involved (family at home, your housemate, or even a friend over a video call) – this helps to keep you accountable.
4. Remember you’re not alone
The majority of us are silently (or not-so-silently) struggling, and finding it difficult to be our usual productive selves while everybody else seems to be on top of their work tasks while also finding time to bake delicious banana breads in the evening with time to spare. Well, that’s not really the case: what we found by talking to colleagues and friends, is that everybody else is feeling the same, whether they show it or not. You’re not working from home, you’re at home trying to work during a crisis. It’s not normal, your home life and work life are blending together like never before, it’s stressful, and productivity isn’t always high. Do your best, and that IS enough right now.
5. Be more asynchronous
Don’t expect people to respond right away to a message. Don’t worry if you miss an impromptu call. There’s a lot going on, people are working different hours than normal to fit other things in, and many people have kids at home to take care of. Flexibility is paramount at the moment – give people the benefit of the doubt, they’ll respond or call back. With very few exceptions, those extra 15 minutes before getting an answer to your burning question isn’t going to end the world.
6. Differentiate your workspace
Not all of us have the luxury of a home office, so working from the sofa, dining table, or any other flat surface is a reality. This can make it more difficult to step away from work at the end of the day, as the spaces collide and merge. To combat this, it can be useful to have something that specifically indicates work. This could be as simple as a tablecloth to cover the surface you’re using, or even something that you wear (we’ve heard that some of our Engineers have been wearing a lab coat or a Darth Vader helmet, but if you’re not into that you could try just wearing shoes). As soon as work is over, put work things away somewhere out of sight if possible, and try to disconnect.
7. Get comfortable
Again, not everyone has space for a proper office setup in their home, so many must improvise. This article has some great tips on working ergonomically from home, including switching up your position regularly to prevent aches and strains.
8. Co-ordinate with your household members
Noise is expected in this unplanned WFH scenario, and can sometimes be unavoidable. However, if you have a very important meeting, liaise with those you live with to avoid your quarterly budget review being interrupted by sounds of a blender or shredding a sick guitar riff.
We hope some of these tips help make your life a little easier right now. Stay safe!