Just over a year into the global Covid-19 pandemic and almost one year since the first lockdown in Ireland, most people have become well accustomed to working from home. Little did we think going in to the first lockdown that we would still be in this position a year later. Although remote working has many benefits such as no commuting, no office distractions, greater flexibility, saving money, more family time etc., it also has its downside such as missing out on social interaction with work colleagues, poor internet connection, waiting for an answer, feelings of isolation, loneliness & disconnect etc.
Here I have outlined my Top 10 Tips for working remotely and how you can make the most out of your day:
1. Maintain Regular Hours
Set a schedule and try to stick to it. It is important to have clear guidelines for when to work and when to call it a day. Having these guidelines in place helps remote workers maintain proper work-life balance. It’s easy to let yourself be ‘always on’ when your home and office are the same place, however it is also important to switch off in the evenings and treat it as if you are working from the office.
Studies have shown that productivity per hour declines significantly outside of the standard working hours each week and it can often lead to burnout of employees if done over a sustained period of time.
That being said, one of the benefits of remote working is flexibility, and sometimes you will need to extend your day or start early depending on your own circumstances. It is important however not to make this a regular thing and try to stick to your core working hours as much as possible.
2. Creating a Good Routine
Stick to your normal work routine as much as possible and start your day as you normally would: shower, getting dressed, eating breakfast etc. Maybe set aside 5 minutes to enjoy a nice cup of coffee before you start looking at your to-do list for the day ahead. Also, changing into working clothes will help you to make the mental adjustment to productive work mode. You want to avoid getting into bad habits such as rolling out of bed 10 minutes before you start work and walking straight into another room or in some cases staying in the same room to commence your days work. You will find it far more beneficial & productive by following your normal work routine and that it sets you up for the day ahead.
3. Keep a Designated Office Space
With remote working here to stay for some time to come, it is important that we have a designated office space to work from. Obviously not everyone will have the luxury of having a designated office space in their home, however you should ensure where possible that your workstation is ergonomically friendly to avoid physical discomfort and the risk of injury or harm and to maximise efficiency. Employers must check that your home workspace is suitable for the work that you are employed. This includes things like safe access to the workspace, essential equipment i.e., laptop, keyboard, mouse, chair etc., there is adequate lighting, ventilation, heat, and that electrical sockets, plugs and cords are in good condition.
4. Setting Clear Ground Rules
Setting clear ground rules with other people in your home or who you share your space with when you work. If you have children who come home from school while you’re still working, they need clear rules about what they can and cannot do during that time. Your productivity may suffer as a consequence if you don’t have the right procedures in place.
5. Schedule Breaks
It is important to take scheduled breaks throughout the working day. In todays busy remote working environment where there can be back-to-back Zoom or Microsoft Teams calls, we can often forget to take a break due to our busy schedules. You should give yourself adequate time during the day to walk away from the computer screen in order to stretch and move about. It’s also good to give your eyes a break for maybe 5 minutes every hour or so and try to limit your social and news media intake. An hour lunch and two 15-minute breaks seem to be the standard for most companies however it is quite common for employees to work through these breaks each day. A good tip is to schedule these breaks in your calendar as a recurring event each day so that you are not booking meetings, calls etc. during these times.
6. Leave the Home
Getting out of the house for fresh air and natural light will do you good. The same applies to people working in traditional office settings too. Your body needs to move about and exercise and you will feel much better both mentally & physically for doing so. Also, this can contribute to greater output and performance during the working day.
7. Keep in Touch with your Work Colleagues
You should try to maintain regular contact with your work colleagues and make time for non-work related chats as you would in the workplace. Pick up the phone or video call colleagues that you would normally spend breaks or lunchtime with and chat to them for a few minutes. Working from home is proving hard for a lot of people at the moment who are missing their work colleagues and the social interaction that goes with working in an office environment.
8. Be Clear in your Communication
Speaking in person gives you visual and audio cues that help you communicate effectively. Conversing remotely removes a lot of that extra information so make your communications extra clear & concise so that your actions or words are not being misconstrued.
9. Ask for Support When Needed
You should have the same support structures in place when working remotely from home as you had previously when working from the office. It is important that you reach out to your manager or co-workers when you need assistance, further training, or support.
10. Allow Adequate Time for Family & Personal Recreation Daily
Take advantage of the perks of working from home and ensure that you make adequate time to spend with family or for personal recreation daily. Just because you are working from home does not mean that you need to be sitting in front of your computer outside of your core working hours. Of course, there are some exceptions to this, for example if you are working with clients in a different time zone you may have to go on calls in the evening time or early morning depending on the location. In this scenario, you should structure your day accordingly to allow for adequate time with family & for personal exercise. We don’t have to worry about the long commute home after work each day and being stuck in traffic for hours so make the most of this precious time with family and also ensure we are getting regular exercise for both our physical and mental wellbeing.
Barry Dolan – Recruitment Director
Tel: 086 0758252