Six simple steps to work from home successfully during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic

This is a strange and scary time for all of us. Many of us will be working from home for the first time. Others are having to practice the new art of social distancing for the first time.  Whether you are part of a family or live alone, the strains are going to be enormous on us all.

Here are some basic guidelines to help you to structure your working day

One: Keep your morning routine

Get ready for work at your usual time. Your morning routine plays a large role in determining your mind-set for the day. Swap your commute time for a brisk walk before you start work, it is important to keep your health and wellbeing up whilst you are at home. It’s tempting, but don’t make a habit of joining conference calls in bed in your pyjamas. You’ll find you’re more productive when you dress for the day as if you were going out to work.

Two: Maintain some normality

Do whatever you can to keep things as normal as possible. Tell your team how they can contact you. Don’t cancel your one-to-ones just because they can’t be held in person. Your manager will clarify expectations around communication, work priorities, projects etc. Make sure your manager knows what hours you are working. Send a daily or weekly update on what you’ve been working on. If you manage a team, be clear with them about any new or different communication and productivity expectations you have now that your team is working remotely and diarise regular conference call meetings. If you have any issues, pick up the phone to chat.

Three: Keep moving

Get up and stretch every hour or so. Walk around your home while chatting on the phone with a work colleague. Move to a separate area – away from your email to eat lunch for 30 minutes. Breaking up the day and moving your body enables you to refresh and can increase your productivity when you return to your work. Equally, try something completely new such as a quiet 15 minutes of meditation (Headspace are offering 2 weeks subscription for free) or bake nutritious snacks to help you through the day. It is ok to take regular breaks, it will help to keep you motivated and focused.

Or look for other ways to exercise around the home. There are millions of beginner yoga, home workout and other home-based exercise classes on youtube.

Four: Communicate

Working from home can be a big transition. You might feel any combination of lonely, isolated, stressed, frustrated, anxious, unmotivated, or — on the other hand — relieved, relaxed, energized, or productive. It’s all OK and normal. Any transition takes time to get used to, so don’t stress. Remember, you can still talk to your colleagues and your manager, it’s important you share your thoughts and feelings and get support when you need it.

Make time every day to text/email with work colleagues, check-in to ask how they are doing! Even though working remotely does drastically change interactions since you’re no longer together in person, you can still make sure that the little things you did in the office continue. This might include sending funny, work-appropriate GIFs over text, or email; chatting about your family or anything else you would normally do. These little things help reduce feelings of isolation and anxiety.

All Cogent Skills employees and learners have access to Health Assured. Login details have been provided via email. If this email has been lost or for further details speak to your Cogent Skills representative.

Five: Don’t work if you’re poorly

Just because you are working from home doesn’t mean you can’t be off work if you’re not well. It is more important than ever that if you are sick you get the proper rest you need. Remember, if you are poorly and unable to work, you must ring your manager first thing.

Six: Maintain work-life balance

The concern many managers have about their employees working from home is that remote workers are really just doing laundry and bingeing Netflix. The opposite is usually true -people tend to work more from home because it’s harder to “leave” work.  Set “in work” hours and communicate these with both work colleagues and family. If you are concerned about this, speak with your manager who will be supportive.

Talk to family members about the hours you are working from home and the ground ‘rules’ during those hours. If you are on a conference call put a “Do Not Disturb!” sign taped onto your door. Don’t tell children off for being noisy, they will sense these are strange times and will need to feel secure too.

We hope these steps help you to settle into your new working from home lifestyle.  Remember this is a short-term measure and normality will be resumed at some point and until then we want you to remain healthy and feel supported!