Steve Murray, LTC’s Head of Qualifications, has worked from home for 20 years. He shares his tips on working from home with us.
Colleagues have already asked me, “how many hours should I sit at my PC waiting for emails?” This is a real concern for people who undertake a daily routine of responding to the inquiry and first client contact. The truth of the matter is that we cannot physically sit, staring at the screen, waiting for emails. For one thing, it is not a positive environment for good mental health.
Accept and settle into your new working methods: remember that working from home requires a different set of disciplines. We need to be focussed when required, be able to keep a steady diary of ‘paced’ tasks and undertakings and to think of solutions first and foremost. Procrastination is the enemy! If we are not careful, we can waste a lot of time when our ‘working day’ is not regulated with a start time, breaks and a definite time when we cease work.
Put repeat appointments into outlook or an electronic calendar. Reminders can subtly prompt us to work in the way that we have anticipated. This ‘model schedule’ is important as it’s so easy to keep tapping away at your keyboard and lose track of the time. I would suggest that we don’t place reminders into a mobile telephone – it can be a distractor and a temptation to catch up with your social media posts etc.
Set regular breaks, time for lunch and these are just as important as a time when you want to finish. With a routine, we can take breaks and recharge our minds and bodies. With a set routine, working from home does not need to upset whatever work life balance you have.
Where we have projects to undertake then we can make times throughout the day where we will undertake that work. Being at home it is easy to forget breaks. A coffee or lunch break at work is not simply an opportunity to grab a sandwich but a time when we can have a break to sit quietly or a chance to meet colleagues and discuss the day. When working at home, it is important to remember to make regular and daily breaks when you can. It is very easy to sit for hours and gradually succumb to ‘burn out.’ It is very important to think about our mental wellbeing during these stressful times. Lastly, taking full concordance of the Government guidelines, we must try to exercise and get some fresh air wherever possible.
Dedicate a workspace
Where possible, set up a dedicated workspace. If that space needs to be ‘collapsed’ at the end of the day, let’s not forget the need to sit properly and to have enough light and air to make that workspace a healthy one as best as we can.
Avoid setting up in a social space
Try not to set up in a ‘home social space’ if you can help it. I appreciate that is not always possible but if you can, undertake work from a room that you can mentally identify with your ‘working day’ and this leaves the other spaces for ‘downtime.’ It is important that we do not feel ‘tied’ to the keyboard or PC when working from home.
Communicate with your family
Where a home is shared with family or partners, remind them that you are not on holiday. There will be increased demands on us at this time around concerns for friends and family, the need to shop and also to exercise where and when we can, but we should gently remind others that a workspace is exactly that, a working space.
Look after your physical well-being
We have reminded ourselves of the need to keep good mental health. We must also remember our physical well-being and, whilst we repeat the need for exercise where possible, we remember the need to hydrate with water and to eat as healthily as we possibly can. ‘No Snacking’ is a challenge and it is very easy to have that additional biscuit or packet of crisps and a soft drink as we work, but if we can keep hydrated with water and stick to regular breaks I am sure that our bodies will thank us for it.