Workers across the world are being forced out of the office to limit the spread of coronavirus. If you need to take your work home, it can be difficult to keep work and downtime separate. But with a little bit of planning, you can maintain your work/life balance even when you have to work outside the office.
Treat every day like a normal work day
You’re not at work, but you’re still working, so make sure that you stick to your routine. If possible, try to stick to the hours you’d work in the office – start at 8.30 and finish at 5, for example. Take a shower, and put on clothes you’d normally wear to the office. This will help you get into work mode, and will also make sure you’re ready for ad hoc video meetings and calls to keep in touch with your team.
Take regular breaks
Without your colleagues around, it’s easy to get so focused on work that you forget to take any time out. Make sure that you take a quick break every hour or so to stretch and have a walk around. Take tea and coffee breaks just like you would in the office. Importantly, don’t forget meals. Have breakfast before you start work in the morning, and take a decent lunch break. Breaks help you avoid burnout and stay productive: it’s important to take them.
If you’ve been asked to work from home due to coronavirus, there’s a good chance others in your household will be around too. Let the people you live with know what times you’ll be working, and ask them not to disturb you if possible. If there’s space, go into another room and shut the door so your workspace can be private and quiet, and to avoid the risk of someone wandering into view if you join a video meeting. And if you think you’ll be tempted by personal messages or social media without the pressure of others working around you, consider blocking notifications during work hours.
Communicate your availability
Make sure your colleagues know when you’ll be available. You could share your calendar with your team so they know when you’re free, and you might like to consider marking in when you’ll be taking your lunch break, and when you’ll log off for the day. Let your colleagues know in advance about other disruptions which might pop up. For example, if schools are closed as well as workplaces, let them know if you might need the occasional break to take care of a child. And consider investing in collaboration software which includes status and presence indicators – you’ll be able to see if your colleagues are around as easily as you would if you were in the office.
Don’t get lonely
The office is a social space as well as a professional space, so be aware that you might miss having plenty of company. Suggest a daily video catch up for your team so everyone knows they’re still working together. Consider making a video call the default communication method for ad hoc quick questions so, instead of an email exchange, you can have a conversation. If you prefer a little noise in your work environment, and you won’t be too distracted, consider playing some music or having the radio on in the background.
StarLeaf are offering free video meetings for everyone during the coronavirus crisis. If you have to work from home, you’ll have access to the collaboration tools you need. Visit our remote working hub to find out more