Unsurprisingly, Google Trends data shows that searches for the phrase “working from home” have skyrocketed in the last month.
Due to the current you-know-what crisis, many workers across the UK are having to work from home – potentially for the first time. According to research, only 30% of UK employees had experienced working from home before now. That means that potentially 70% of you are finding yourself in an unfamiliar situation.
Inflowing are seasoned work-from-homers – we’re a distributed team who do the majority of our work remotely. Over our 3 year journey as an agency, we’ve learned to adapt – but it is a bit of a learning curve, especially if you’ve been going into an office for 20 odd years.
With all that in mind, I thought I would put a quick guide together for customers, friends and whoever else needs some support in this strange time, with some of our top tips for working from home, staying sane and making the most of it.
For me, there’s really two parts to remote working – having the right physical space, and having the right mental space. In this part, I’ll cover creating a physical space that means you feel comfortable and productive. In part 2, I’ll look at focusing on your mental health and wellbeing when working from home.
Creating your home office
I’m not talking here about spending the better part of your bank balance at IKEA (not that you can at the moment anyway) to create a workspace that looks like an interior design editorial. It’s about creating a space that works for you and your needs, and is somewhere you’re not going to hate sitting everyday. Ideally you need to find somewhere in your house or flat that is quiet, comfortable and bright. I’d like to stress here that you don’t want to be too comfortable – as tempting as it may be, I really don’t think working from the sofa is sustainable. The sofa is where you go to slump – slumping is not conducive with productivity. And for god’s sake, don’t try to work from bed. Get yourself a table or a desk with a comfortable but sturdy, upright chair, make sure you’re not hunched over, and that you can adequately see your screen.
Dedicate your space
Personally, I find that having a dedicated room really helps – I have an “office” in my spare room. This means that at the end of the day, I can shut my laptop, shut the door to the room, and leave Work Charli for the night while I focus on being Home Charli (I’ll get to that in a moment). You might not have a spare room or the space for a dedicated area, but if you can possibly pick a place where you don’t already spend a lot of your free time, that’s ideal.
Make it your own
Surround yourself with what makes sense for you – some people aren’t naturally tidy, so don’t sweat it if your desk or work area isn’t pristine. If neatness is your thing, you could create a minimal workspace and take the time at the end of each day to put everything away and give everything a wipe down – this might also help with your mental wellbeing, which we’ll cover in the next part. Personally, I also like to have a plant to look at, as well as trinkets and pictures, and Google Home speaker within reach to keep me motivated with music throughout the day. It’s your space, so make it your own!
Let there be light
If you can – be facing or near a window. Now more than ever, you need to be exposed to natural light and be able to see the outside world. If not possible, take regular breaks to just go and look out of the window – remind yourself that the world is still going on around you! Weather permitting, take your breaks outside. It’s amazing what a bit of Vitamin D can do for the soul. The Inflowing team also opt sometimes for taking phone calls outside – it’s a great opportunity to grab a bit of sunshine during the day, and there’s plenty of room if you’re a pacer (I’m definitely a pacer).
Working from home must-haves
I know it might be a little difficult to procure things at the moment, but if you can, the following is what I would suggest purchasing to make your working from home experience as enjoyable as possible:
- Noise cancelling headphones – an important part of working from home is accepting that not everyone is on your schedule – your family, your neighbours, the bin men – so you can’t expect silence all day while you’re working. These are great for when you need a bit of concentration time, also handy for doing video calls.
- A laptop raiser – personally I find hunching over my laptop hurts my neck and shoulders. I invested in a laptop raiser about a year ago, and I haven’t looked back since (even though I could, because my neck doesn’t hurt now). This could also be handy if you’re having to work in a space where you can’t necessarily adjust your chair to get yourself at the right height.
- A comfortable hoodie – hoodies are the ultimate working from home attire. Treat yourself to a nice one and pair with loose, comfy trousers and fluffy socks or slippers.
- A cosy blanket – if you don’t want your heating bill to shoot through the roof, get yourself a warm blanket you can drape around your shoulders for chilly mornings.
Stay tuned for part 2, where I’ll give you some of my top tips for staying mentally healthy when working from home. For me, once you’ve got your physical space sorted, that’s the real challenge.
Stay safe and healthy folks, and most importantly, STAY INSIDE.