30 – 07 – 2020
Words by Caitlyn
Of Working From Home
With the whirlwind that has been 2020 we have been reflecting on what we’ve noticed while everyone transitioned to that work from home life. It’s been a messy and fruitful ride as we’ve watched people struggle, learn and make it work for themselves. While everyone learnt how to work from home, we felt quite at ease. We started working remotely in July of 2018 and while at the beginning the transition was hard, 2 years in, we’ve got it down (most of the time).
It was interesting to watch everyone go through the mixture of emotions that we had gone through. Starting with how great it is to work from bed to how we miss sitting at our desk in the office. From feeling lonely to wishing everyone would stop messaging on the workgroup and zoom calling you while you’re in your pjs. From thinking you’ll have so much more extra time to realising your time hasn’t changed at all, it probably got even busier.
What we noticed was that we’re all pretty similar and at the end of the day we are our own worst enemy. Change takes adaptation and we can be so bad at that sometimes! We don’t want to change the system we’ve created even though our environment has been flipped upside down. Home means relaxing to most of us and adapting that mindset that it can be both a place of work and relaxation takes some time.
Some things work, some things don’t but from what we have seen and learnt there are 3 simple rules to follow that can really help you get the whole working at home thing down. While some might seem obvious and you’ve heard it a million times, trust us, in practice they work.
- Act like you’re going to work
Just because you’re not going to work does not mean you’re not going to work when you wake up on a weekday morning! Monday to Friday, 8-5 has not changed, you’re just doing the work a few meters from your bed. So do what you would usually do.
- Wake up early, get dressed, make breakfast, text your friends good morning, and then start working. It’s tempting to just roll out of bed 5 minutes before work, land at your desk, and get going but keep your routine. Just because you no longer have to get ready for your commute, doesn’t mean you sleep in and skip the important stuff. Eat breakfast before you start working or you’ll end up skipping it all together, get out of your pjs, and get your day started. Sure, wear your comfy sweatpants and a loose T but don’t stay in what you slept in.
- You know it but do you actually do it? Don’t work from your bed or on your couch. We know it’s so tempting but don’t do it, don’t get too comfy. You’re at work! So sit at your desk or designated work area and get going. We’re not saying don’t take an hour break on your couch when your back gets sore but don’t spend your day there and expect to be productive.
- Break up your day like you normally would, take your lunch breaks and tea breaks, and those minutes you spend chatting. It’s easy to overwork when you’re working from home because you don’t have the little distractions that you usually would but those distractions often make you more productive. They give your brain time to rest, reset, and split your working time up. Don’t let that ‘my boss will think I’m not working because I’m at home’ guilt stop you from taking your well-deserved breather!
- If you get easily distracted and can’t help yourself from getting consumed by social media or a deep dive into recipes for dinner, now that there’s no one watching you work, then take the precautionary steps to stop yourself. Logout of all your social media accounts so it’s harder to just switch onto the app and get lost in it. Use Chrome’s ‘people’ option and have a work toolbar and personal toolbar. This means while you’re on your work profile/ toolbar that you’ll stick to the task at hand.
- Set those boundaries
You need to set boundaries with your boss and colleagues, whoever is at home with you and most importantly with yourself. Just because you’re at home all day and don’t get to work at a certain time and leave at a certain time doesn’t mean the rules have changed!
- You more likely than not have working hours. Stick to them. It is your responsibility to ensure that not only do you stick to them but that your boss and colleagues respect them too. Would your work contact you before or after your working hours usually? No. Would you stop making dinner or doing that after-work chore and quickly finish that one thing your teammate needs? No. Just because there’s no going home time to signal the end of the workday doesn’t mean that the workday isn’t over. Don’t let anyone take advantage of you to do more work after or before working hours. When you let this happen once it will keep happening.
- The same goes for you! Don’t ‘just quickly finish the task’ after work has finished. That extra hour or 2 you spend on that takes up your actual time at home where you have other responsibilities, like chores and simply taking care of yourself. If you don’t set those boundaries for yourself, no one else will and you will burnout and end up working much slower.
- It’s easy to feel like you haven’t done enough so use a tool like Toggl to track how much time you’re spending on each task and how many hours you’ve worked that day. You’ll see if you’re spending too long on something and at the end of the day, you can see where you spent your time and that you actually did get tasks done. Plus, it’ll stop you from working that 9 or 10 hour day!
- Leave the chores until after work! Just because you’re at home all day doesn’t mean you need to get the household chores done. Household chores are for before and after work and that shouldn’t change. You’ll only distract yourself and tire yourself out by completing other tasks during work hours.
- With that being said, you need to set boundaries with those you live with too. You need to make sure their expectations are managed about how much time during the day you have for them, how much space you need, and how much they can expect from you in terms of housework. Just because you’re at home all day doesn’t mean you’re not working and have time for other things.
- Move, talk and laugh
It’s not all about work! It’s all about balance. No one can do their job properly if they’re not getting the stimulation they need. You’re no longer commuting to work, climbing the stairs to your floor, walking to lunch, or chatting with your peers but those things are important so make them happen!
- You’re already getting dressed for work, so why not meet a friend for lunch? A break can do wonders for your productivity and having a laugh will boost your mood.
- Call your friends, your mom, or your partner for a 15-minute vent or catch up. You can keep your distance and still get that human contact in.
- Don’t just end your team meeting when the important topics for the day have been discussed, stick around for a little chat afterwards. If you were at work you wouldn’t just pack up and leave to your desk, you’d walk with a peer or grab a coffee with them while chatting before getting down to business.
- Ugh, we know, someone else telling you to exercise? But for real, you’re probably getting out of bed, sitting at your desk, making dinner, relaxing on the couch, and then going to bed again. Your body and your brain needs a little bit more than that to feel happy. At least have a walk up your street and back, especially if you’re living in a flat and don’t have a garden for some fresh air.
At the end of the day, we’re all resilient, adaptable, and always far more capable than we think but only if we allow ourselves to be. Making changes is hard but everything that has been scary and different has always become our new normal quicker than we expected!
Happy home working!