Working from home - making the best of this

Not everyone will welcome this opportunity to work from home. The restrictions in place, and severely disrupted routines may add a new level of stress and anxiety to an already hefty caseload.

We have been thinking about working from home and making the coming weeks as positive and productive as possible:

Structure

No doubt there are some aspects of ‘normal’ working life that we will miss more than others. Running for the bus or fighting for a seat on the train might be something we can live without. However, with no commute to contend with, it’s important to make sure other factors give you the structure you need to start your day. Set your alarm as normal, get dressed and be at your desk in good time. It might be tempting to skip the shower, and to stay in your pyjamas, but getting dressed will help you get ‘in the zone’. It will also work well at the end of the day when you’re winding down for the evening.

#pickupthephone

We absolutely have the technology we need to make this work. Think about how you use it. There will be times when email is the best way to communicate but do take the opportunity to speak to people on a regular basis. If you are feeling unsettled by this ‘new normal’, the chances are that others are too. Connecting with your established peer group will give you the chance to check in, ensure you’re on task, and working towards shared objectives. It would also be a shame to miss out on all that good stuff that comes about because of a chance comment when you started a conversation about something else.

Think about your surroundings

Wherever you set up your laptop, having a designated space will help keep everything in its place – and, more importantly, keep your head in the game. Some people, used to large open-plan offices might find peace and quiet disconcerting – background music might help, or even an app playing coffee shop chatter or street sounds. If there are other people around you, try to establish acceptable ‘access’ arrangements. There will be times when you need to be focused, and it will reduce stress if everyone understands that.

Plan your day

Spend a little time thinking about how your day might unfold. Make a list of the important things you want to get done. Include your personal objectives too, whether it’s phoning a friend or checking in with a relative. List the tasks for the day, put them in order of priority and tick them off as you go.

At the end of the day, go back to your list. Think of three things that went well during the day and write them down. Don’t forget that anything positive is worthy of note. Reflecting on day-to-day triumphs, no matter how small, will give a sense of achievement and boost your positive feelings.

Don’t forget to move!

Give your back a stretch from time to time – just as you would in the office. It’s not good to be stuck to the screen all day. Try a one-minute workout – of the body, or the mind. These are quick and effective ways to press the pause button and come back re-energised.

Don’t forget to breathe

The situation we’re facing at the moment can seem overwhelming. Calm yourself with breathing exercises to avoid being overtaken by anxiety:

  • Breathe deeply through your mouth, make sure the breath reaches into your diaphragm
  • Hold for four seconds
  • Breathe out, count to six seconds as you do
  • Hold for two or three seconds and then repeat

These exercises help because they are about taking positive action. If you find yourself feeling anxious, they can help you take stock, focus your mind and re-balance towards the positive.

Make the most of it

It goes without saying that this is far from ideal. We really are facing an unprecedented challenge. However, working from home may provide new opportunities to focus and think creatively about our work, the people who depend on us, and the problems they face. We all need to commit to making this period of social distancing the best and most productive it can be.