Working From Home: 5 Essential Tips

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Working from home is likely to become the norm for many of us in our current climate. What may be a short-term solution to the COVID-19 crisis is likely to become a long-term requirement for many employees. Even if this doesn’t happen full-time, many of us could be looking at part-time flexible and remote working arrangements. Many more will be advocating for remote working even if it’s not absolutely necessary, because you might have shown that you are even more effective working from home! Whatever the scenario, remote working is likely to be on the increase over the coming year. So how do you ensure that you are being an effective remote worker? How do you take care of your wellbeing whilst doing your job at home? And how do you maintain good working relationships with your colleagues in this situation? Here are 5 essential tips to remaining engaged, performing well and taking care of yourself whilst working from home:

  1. Set realistic goals at the start of each day

Your intentions for the day are crucial when you are working from home. Even in your regular working environment, you should be setting objectives before you dive into your working day. Whilst working remotely, these are even more important. If you have been at home for a while now, you will have an idea of the amount you can get done during the working day. Set 1-3 goals at the start of the day and be realistic about what you can achieve. You may be able to achieve more without your regular commute, although this could be offset by not being able to communicate with others in the same way in order to get work done. Try to stick to a standard set of working hours and set goals according to this time-frame. Make sure you switch off once you have achieved what you need to for the day!

  1. Set up a regular workspace

Separating the boundaries between work and personal life is increasingly important when working from home. This can become difficult to do as lines get blurred, and it’s OK if you find this challenging at first. It’s also ok if you don’t always achieve this, especially if you have kids running around and you have to keep switching between your personal and work-life duties. However, one thing you can do is keep your working space separate as much as possible. It’s ideal if you have a study as your office space. If you don’t, carve out an area in your living room or wherever works for you in your house. A lot of people say not to have this space in your bedroom, but sometimes it is the best option if you have a lot of people at home at this time. As long as you keep this space to one corner of your room, this could still work fine.

  1. Take breaks and go outside!

This is a really important point to emphasise as working remotely can often mean working longer hours and forgetting about the outside world for many people. Without the natural breaks in your day through commuting, having lunch with colleagues or even walking back and forth from your desk, you can end up working through the day with no breaks. It is really important to refresh your brain by stepping away from your workspace and ideally, going outside if you can. Doing this actually improves your performance throughout the day and helps your creative brain to flourish. If you can’t go outside, try having lunch in a different part of the house rather than in front of your computer. Take breaks to recharge either by just looking away from your screen at minimum, or doing a different activity such as calling a family member to check in on how they’re doing.

  1. Video call as much as possible

This step requires getting dressed out of your pyjamas and getting into ‘work mode’ with your presentation! It’s very tempting to jump out of bed and straight onto your laptop without preparing for the day ahead like you would normally when you have to leave the house for work. If you don’t have video calls as a natural part of your working day, you may feel you have no reason to get yourself ready. Communicating via video calls is one of the best ways to foster continuous connection with others whilst working remotely. If you usually have audio calls with colleagues, try encouraging each other to turn on your video, which will motivate you to get ready at the start of the day! If video meetings are not part of your normal routine, try doing them anyway. You can find reasons to check-in with people – see the next tip for more on this.

  1. Keep the human conversation going

We may not realise that we are missing out on human interactions that we take for granted day-to-day whilst working from home. The conversations that you have when going for lunch with others, or enquiring about each other’s personal lives when walking to a meeting, all contribute to building our human connection. Pure remote working can remove this entirely if we don’t make the effort to build this back in to our virtual relationships. Keep it going by either asking how someone is before you delve into your work meeting, or set aside specific times for more informal check-ins with team members to see how everyone is doing. Taking this step will strengthen your working relationships, which can help with collaboration and productivity. It can also improve your wellbeing as you are connecting with people on deeper levels as opposed to just a professional level.   Working from home can be a great solution to work-life balance issues or crises like pandemics, but comes with unique challenges too. By considering how you approach remote working, you can remain engaged with your job, keep strong relationships with your colleagues and look after your wellbeing. Don’t worry if you aren’t able to implement all of these things – start with whatever is easiest for you and incorporate others as you go along. Working from home could be a long-term arrangement for us all so it’s worth coming up with an approach that works best for you, your family and your workplace!

If you are ready to take your career outside the lab and want to know how to start, watch our webinar on How Science Graduates Can Get a High Paying Job Outside the Lab Even if You Have Little to No Work Experience.

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