How to work from home: Three tips to make the isolation workable

Has COVID-19 (coronavirus) got you working from home? As more companies direct their employees to work from home, home offices are suddenly getting a much-needed workout. However, not everyone is sure how to make their office work for them — do you need some upgrades? How do you stay efficient? Is it OK to wear your PJ’s all day?

Here’s what you need to do to get your work space into shape so you can work from home effortlessly, and how you can keep yourself in check to ensure that you’re still efficient and indispensible.

Out of sight, out of mind

Keep your space clean and organised: at the end of every work day, pack everything away
Keep your space clean and organised: at the end of every work day, pack everything away (photo by Nathan Riley on Unsplash)

The first rule of working at home: out of sight, out of mind. When you’re working and living in the same space, it’s harder for you to distinguish between work time and home time. In order to be effective, you need time off, and the easiest time to do that is to ensure that your work is contained to a certain area or space.

Furthermore, it might be prudent to invest in some extra draws or storage units to keep the clutter away. You’ll probably working primarily from your laptop or home computer, but you might have some notes or printed paper that you need to refer to throughout the day. If you can, throw it away. If you can’t file it away, use boxes and trays in a uniform hue to conceal other items and tie it into the look the rest of your study has. Give yourself an afternoon to get organised. Create folders on your computer desktop and file each document into the correct folder. In terms of physical supplies, be sure to have everything you need stored neatly near your workspace: pens, pencils, stamps, sticky tape, scissors.

Time frames

time blocking
Time blocking is a quick and efficient way to manage your time when you’re working at home

When you’re working from home, it’s more important than ever to have strict working hours. If you’re constantly working for little blocks of time or answering emails from 7 AM to 9 PM, you’ll feel like you cannot escape your work. You won’t be able to leave the email at work when you head home for the day if you’re already home.

To combat work fatigue, ensure you establish firm working hours. For most people, 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM is the norm, but try to stick to the routine your company usually works under. You then need to ensure the rest of your co-workers know about these hours, and the fact that you’re strictly enforcing them. It’s ok to say “no, I’ll get to this tomorrow. Right now I’m going to watch some TV and then go for a run”.

Impressions are everything

Online meeting
Make sure you match the dress code the rest of your co-workers are going by (it won’t do it be in your PJ’s when they’re in smart casual!)

It’s tempting to work from home in your PJ’s, but we’d advise against it. It’s all about maintaining the illusion you’re indispensably important. But don’t listen to those saying you should always get fully dressed before a day’s work — a nice in-between is where you should be aiming. A pair of comfy pants — jeans, pyjama pants, whatever — is fine, but try to dress up a little more up top. As everyone works from home you’re likely to be involved in video conferences quite frequently, so this way you can still show everyone that you’re working hard without being too uncomfortable.

If you’re still really struggling to work from home, then we would recommend actually getting fully dressed as though you were heading into the office. It’ll help trick you into the right mindset, and help you be more productive.

Making the move from office to home isn’t always as easy as it seems, but don’t let COVID-19 stop you from getting your work done.

Written: 11 May 2020

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