According to the Office of National Statistics, less than 30% of the UK’s workforce have experienced working from home for themselves (data before the COVID-19 pandemic). However, as the threat of coronavirus has forced the government to implement a UK-wide lockdown, these figures have soared as millions of workers have been told they must work from home for the foreseeable future.
Working from home has its advantages – you can wave goodbye to that stressful commute, enjoy a little longer in bed and have control over what music is playing in your makeshift office. However, working from home can also be isolating and finding that much-needed motivation to do the tasks at hand can be an issue.
Create a comfortable workstation
Just like your professional environment in your office, you must create a neat, tidy and efficient workspace at home. Make sure you have a supportive chair, your computer/laptop set-up is comfortable, and the lighting is just right. These tips will help you make it through the day without any aches and pains – a good posture at your desk is imperative.
One additional tip that we’ve always found very useful – make sure the top of your screen is level with your eye line. Doing so will help protect your neck from any potential discomfort in the long run.
Get into a sustainable routine
Getting out of bed at 08:59 for a 09:00 start may sound tempting but don’t get into this routine. To stay motivated and to work with a professional mindset, get up at a sensible time, have a shower, grab yourself a healthy breakfast and drink and get to your desk 15 minutes before work starts. This way, you’ll be switched on and ready to be productive the second work officially starts. Oh, and make sure you get dressed too!
Keeping busy from the beginning to the end of your working day is important as well. Make sure you have enough work for each day and if you don’t, contact your Manager and ask for more. Nothing makes time go quicker than a busy day with plenty of tasks to do. Set yourself deadlines and the working days will fly by!
Keep in touch with the team and your clients
Speak with your team
It is a great idea to schedule frequent meetings with your team so that everybody can catch up over video call and discuss the day ahead. Have a video call first thing in the morning and then another one towards the end of the day. By doing this, you can discuss the day ahead and then see how everyone has got on.
Having a group chat over WhatsApp or a tool like Skype is a useful way to keep in touch and to raise any questions you may have with your department. However, make sure you keep these conversations work-orientated and don’t get distracted. If you are using a personal computer or laptop – sign out of Social Media – if you haven’t already. We all know how easy it is to get a notification and then go off on a tangent for 15 minutes.
We must add – make sure you are protected from hackers and viruses when working from home. A majority of businesses will require their staff to work remotely using a virtual private network (VPN). If you are unsure about your computer-based security when working from home, contact your IT Department and copy in your Manager.
Contact your clients
There is every possibility a majority of your clients are also working from home. Therefore, if you have the capacity, now is a great time to give them a call. If they are struggling with motivation themselves, a catch up could be a great opportunity for you to build an even stronger relationship with them. Here’s an idea – you can’t arrange a face-to-face meeting this moment, but you can certainly plan what your next one will involve. Try and get an idea together so that you can get a date in your diary the second the lockdown is over.
Amazingly, Zoom, a leading video communications software, has added more users this year than it did in the entirety of 2019. The company has experienced its most significant growth to date, and as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, share value has risen by 40%. Competing software have also experienced similar success.
Take regular breaks from your desk
Stepping away from the screen in front of you is important and we recommend you do it at least every hour. This isn’t an excuse to go and watch television for half an hour or to clean the house. However, having a minute or two away from the workstation is a great way to clear your head, stretch your legs and grab a refreshment.
Through experience, it can be far too tempting to wander towards the fridge and see what tasty treats await. Don’t fall into this trap! During the lockdown, do everything you can to maintain a healthy diet.
Make the most of the time you’re not working
When you’re not in office-hours, do what you can to distance yourself from work. If your hours are 09:00 – 17:00, do everything you can to achieve your daily objectives within this timeframe. It is vital you can separate your home life from your work life – even if they are both temporarily sharing the same building!
During the lockdown, you may struggle to find things that keep you occupied. This is certainly not unusual, but if you find yourself being drawn back to your desk – fight the urge to check your emails and finish that report – unless going the extra mile is expected of you as part of your role.
There are plenty of things you can do when not at your desk. Most importantly, make the most of your daily one-hour outdoor exercise and go for a walk or jog. Then, you could:
- Watch a film
- Host a virtual quiz night with your friends and family
- Play cards or a board game
- Complete a puzzle or build an adult Lego model
- Read a book
- Phone or video call a loved one
- Plan your next adventure
- Volunteer for the NHS or deliver food to local vulnerable people
- Set a new budget for the next 12 months
- Make some house improvements
- Write your CV for the future
- Learn a language or a new skill related to your line of work
- Listen to your favourite music and discover new artists
- Look for ways to save money moving forward, including a review of your energy providers etc.
- Try out some new recipes
We would love to hear some of your suggestions on how to fill your time during the coronavirus lockdown. Please comment below and we’ll publish the best ones!
Some tips from the Churchill Knight team
Just like a majority of office workers, the Churchill Knight team is currently working from home as part of the government lockdown. Here are some thoughts from Churchill Knight employees:
Alex Cadman – Sales
“You need to have a morning routine. Don’t go into working from home assuming you can have a lie-in and get up last minute – you have to get up as if you were going into an office. Do some stretching/exercise, have proper breakfast, don’t rush around, be organised etc. Also, do something productive with your lunch break – for example I go for a walk every single lunch almost and it’s helped me come back with a fresh mind.”
Andrew Trodden – Marketing
“Working from home has its advantages and disadvantages. To overcome the sensation of being isolated, my team are regularly in communication – be it over a video call or Skype chat. It’s proven to be an excellent way of making sure we’re all working, and reminding everyone that we’re here for each other. I also pop out every lunchtime for a 45-minute walk – to take my mind off work and to try and keep active. It’s something that has helped me massively. My main recommendation – don’t stay at your desk for too long before you take a short break (be it only a minute or two).”
Ciaran Woodcock – Marketing and Field Sales
“I’ve kept my morning routine the same as if I was going into the office – including my alarm. By keeping everything the same, it still feels like I am going to work. It would be easy to roll out of bed and put the laptop on, but I’m not sure I would be very productive.”
Clare Denison – Marketing
“I keep a similar structure to my day as if I was going to work. I get up at the same time and have lunch at the same time. I also have a separate working space, away from my family to ensure I have no distractions. Regular conversations with my team and a to-do checklist keep me on track and motivated.”
Mollie Foster – Business Development
“Working from home has been a whole new experience for me, but here are a few valuable things I have learnt.
It is important to wake up early enough to have breakfast and coffee and get ready for the day (even if that means having a shower and changing out of your pyjamas!)
I really think it is essential to ensure you have a proper lunch break, away from your laptop. I find this breaks up the day and ensures you stay motivated for the afternoon.
My final key thing would be, if you can, set up a ‘desk’ area; somewhere away from your bed/sofa so that you have a separate space for relaxing and working. I find this helps with being in a working mindset, but it also helps me to switch off once the working day is done.”