Remote Working Tips
There are several advantages to remote working, including an improved work life balance, saving time from not commuting and saving money. However, there are also a few challenges including finding it harder to switch off properly at the end of the day, facing more distractions and potentially communicating less frequently with colleagues. Hopefully these tips will help to improve your remote working experience:
Create a Routine
Whilst it can be very tempting to open your eyes, get your laptop or phone and start working from the comfort of your bed, in the long run this can ruin your relationship with sleep and stop your bedroom from feeling like a relaxing environment.
- Treat your day like any other workday. Take a shower, get dressed and have breakfast – this helps you get in the right frame of mind to work.
- Once you’re ready, create a list of everything you need to do for the day, divide your day into equal blocks of time.
- Plot your jobs onto your day. Place the jobs that need the most focus at the times of the day you know you work best.
- Schedule in when you will take short breaks and a longer break for lunch.
- If you have a table or desk, try to work from there and save the sofa for relaxing. When you’re in one space it is important that you feel rested rather than associating your whole living environment with work.
- Think about how you can spend the time you would typically use to commute. If you regularly wake up feeling tired, catch up on some extra sleep, but equally don’t just sleep in because you can. This is also a great time to get working or exercising for example.
Maintain Regular Communication
During periods of isolation and remote working, maintaining regular communication with colleagues can be the difference between remote working being filled with unknowns and it being a huge success. To do this:
- Clarify expectations. Perhaps have a conversation with your manager about how much communication they want from you and what details they’d like you to share.
- Embrace technology. Instant messaging is good, but some messages are best delivered face to face, so consider using video calls.
- Schedule in time during your workday for a call with colleagues for an update and a chat or hold regular virtual team meetings.
- Consider optional Q&A sessions for your team to dial in and chat through any concerns or queries they have about working remotely.
- If you typically schedule time in the workday for an activity or exercising with your colleagues, continue to make time for this over Skype or phone. For example:
- Turning your morning or afternoon coffee break into a virtual coffee break;
- Sharing photo updates of your lunchtime exercise session;
- Video calling for an afternoon creative session;
- Organising a daily online quiz session.
- Use instant messenger to communicate with your colleagues if you are feeling lonely, out of the loop or need to talk to someone.
- If you’re going online more than usual or seeking peer support on the internet, it’s important to look after your online wellbeing. Take a look at these pages about online mental health for more information.
Create an end of day routine
It can be hard to switch off properly at the end of the day when your workspace is also your home, so an end of day routine can help.
- Review everything you have achieved throughout your day. Create a ‘have done’ list of achievements and completed tasks as well as a ‘to do’ list for the following day.
- Put a plan in place for how you’ll get any outstanding jobs finished. Make sure they are in tomorrow’s to do list if needed.
- Check your calendar to make sure you don’t get surprised by any upcoming events.
- End your day by turning off your laptop and your work phone. Leave these in a separate room so you’re not tempted to check your emails outside of working hours.
- Consider how you can spend the time you would typically spend commuting home, again this is a great time for extra movement, calling friends and family or preparing dinner.
Working from home can mean distractions are more difficult to resist. It can be helpful to:
- Have a designated workspace within your home. This is an area of your house you set apart for productivity and work.
- If you’re working within a small space, you could try setting up temporary ‘zones’ by hanging blankets or screens to visually separate your work area from your bed or living area.
- Keep your workspace free of clutter. This will help you to focus.
- Set expectations with the people you live with. Let them know when you can and cannot be distracted.
- Schedule in regular breaks. This will help you to maintain focus. The Pomodoro technique can help with this.
- Consider downloading a distraction blocker if you often find yourself browsing unrelated websites.
- If music helps you focus, play it in the background. Whereas if quiet helps you focus, find somewhere to work that’s low on noise.
- Consider blocking in some offline time to help remove distractions when you need to focus.
Consider your physical health
- Consider using the time you would typically use to commute to exercise: exercising before work can help you feel like you have mentally ‘arrived’ at work. Doing the same when you’ve finished can help you to leave your work mindset behind and switch off.
- Remember to schedule in a lunch break and consider using this time to get outdoors or do some form of exercise.
- To avoid physical strain, do a self-check using this guidance from the NHS. If you don’t have a chair with back support, you could add a firm pillow.
- If you notice that you’ve been sitting down for an hour, just getting up or changing position can help.
- Drink water regularly, this is important for your physical and mental health. It might be helpful to set an alarm to remind you to drink. The NHS website has more information on water, drinks and your health here.