The world as we know it recently drastically changed, in what felt like overnight! Along with massive ramifications for our safety, our daily grocery or our social life, many of us have also had to make the shift to working from home. Perhaps some of you already have some experience with this, but for many of us it might be the first time, and it can be strange and difficult. These are unprecedented times that have increased stress on many levels for some of us, and having to transition to working from home can add to this in some circumstances. Even within with most companies, we’re all trying to figure out how to adapt and predict and forecast towards what seems to be a moving target.
Whatever situation you are in, I hope the following few points give you some ideas to help work during these times in the best way possible.
- The “Where”. Where have you set up your home office? It is important to create a space where you can best focus and concentrate. Ideally and if you are lucky you have a room that can be used as a home office. But for the rest of us maybe after waking up and making the bed you change your bedroom into an office? Perhaps it is in an alcove or corner in a space. Ideally not in the kitchen, it’s a little too close to be constantly drawn into snacking, and a place where others frequently may be buzzing around. Make sure your working space is clean and uncluttered. If you already have a home office, clean and organize it. If you are just starting out on the home work journey, you’re lucky to have a clean slate, so start it off clean and organized! There are a few companies that are still delivering office furniture including www.wayfair.ca, Costco.ca, Walmart.ca and www.amazon.ca. Be sure to start out with easy access to everything you might need (phone, computer/tablet, pens, paper, water etc.) this will help with your focus.
- The “When”. What time to start work? Try not to wake up right before you start working – give yourself plenty time to set yourself up for the day. Look on the bright side… all that time you were commuting before you can now use to clear your head and get ready for the day ahead. When are your breaks?Set up some boundaries around time spent at the computer – make sure you’re getting regular breaks to walk away and move around for a bit. Also, schedule your lunch break, don’t just ‘eat when hungry’. Eat away from your desk, phone and computer. What time will you finish? When you get set up to work from home it can be easy to let your work drag on into the evening, intruding on quality family time or your rest and relaxation. Try to keep to a set finish time and if you have to check into work in the evening, again set aside a designated time to do this, before getting back to enjoying your evening. Let your family members know your schedule. When you finish work try to come up with a method that lets you leave work mentally. This could be a walk outside, shower, dancing to your favorite song, at workout or stretching, something that will help you shift your mindset from work to “at home”. This will help you to have better quality time with those members in your family or better relaxation for yourself.
- The “How”. Are you working on a laptop on the coffee table? Because this can result in back pain, and quickly!! Can you instead create a stand-up desk, using old boxes or some books for example? This is much better for your body, concentration and your digestion. You probably have heard “sitting is the new smoking” and it is true. Trust me, I saw it first hand, as in my work as a massage therapist I mostly treated injuries and pain that ultimately stemmed from sitting too much. This is no joke! Stand up desks start from around $200, and it is a worthy investment. Start slowly, 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour in the afternoon, add 30 min every week or two weeks. Sit if you need to take a break – as my husband says he finds it much better to stand a lot then sit when you’re tired, rather than sitting a lot then standing when you’re tired. The latter can quickly make you feel like your joints have aged 30 years!
Cues for stand-up work posture:
-start by a slight engagement of your core, bringing your belly button a little closer to the spine, this should be gentle, something that you can hold for hours
-lengthen through your spine, envision a string starting from your tail bone all the way through to the top of your head, envision the string being pulled up
-roll your shoulders up back and down, slight tuck of chin
Stay hydrated! Drink plenty of water. Keep a bottle on your desk and depending on the size empty and fill it a couple of time a day. A good test to see if you are hydrated is notice the colour of your urine, it should be close to clear or a light-yellow colour.
- The “What”. If you aren’t already in the habit of doing this it is great strategy to be efficient… Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule? In a nutshell it states that basically 80% of outcomes (outputs) come from 20% of causes (inputs). In the 80-20 rule, you prioritize the 20% of factors that will produce the best results. A principle of the 80-20 rule is to identify an entity's best assets and use them efficiently to create maximum value. Stick to a few priorities and keep them visible to stay on task.
- The “Who”. Are you working all day at home by yourself? If so then you might be feeling even more isolated during this time. Arrange to visit with a friend or family on a video call or call. Perhaps you are sick of being on these calls all day, in that case try to arrange a physically distant visit that is safe, a walk with a friend that is far, a outside visit that is spaced, patio/driveway, I have seen lots of creative socializing!
If you work at home with others it may be important to set boundaries with family members. Some matters to discuss could be hours of work, interruptions, noise levels, etc. If you are seeing the same people every day it might be important to visit with others by video call or physically distant visits. If you are living with your partner and or children how can you make some time together still feel special? Perhaps you could read a book together with your children, make a craft, or maybe you plan a date night even though it is at home, a candle lit floor picnic, take turns giving massages or dance the night away!
These are challenging times and therefore this can take some time to get used to. Try out a few of these suggestions and see how they work for you. It does take some time to set these things up, however, it is time well spent that will keep you sane, focused and successful. If something doesn’t work, stop and take some time to adjust it, whether it’s adjusting your mouse, the height of your chair, the hours you set out to work, etc. You now have the ability to make this work environment suit you, and take full advantage of that! Should you have any problems or questions, please feel free to reach out and ask. I have been doing this for a while! ;)
Offices will open again, some of you will go back, and some of you will stay where you have always been. I do have a strong hunch thought that as companies see the benefits to home working there will be a percentage of workers that keep working from home. If this is something that interests you, it is a great time to show how you can shine, and don’t you!! ;)