Self-isolating from a virus, going freelance, fed up with hotdesking – there are many reasons to be working from home. Here are our simple rules to follow.
“Last time I worked from home, it was mid-afternoon and I was at the kitchen table online shopping, in my PJs, grabbing handfuls of dry cheerios straight from the box… .”
Tom, 38, Marketing Manager
Simple rule #1: Stick to a routine.
Even though you’re in a familiar/family non-work space, you need to try and mentally create a workspace. Helps to get up as you would normally, get showered, and dressed (no need to go the whole suit & tie, Tom, but maybe not the animal onesie either, yeah?). Try and be at your computer working the hours you normally would in the office. It may also help with that, erm, whole self-respect thing, Tom?
“I just get distracted – like a cat pulling at wool – I clear the kitchen table so I can work, and there’s a book, and I go to put it back on the shelf…and then I move it…then I move one or two other books on the shelf…and I start rearranging the books, and then it’s 1pm and I’m surrounded by piles of books, thinking ‘how did I get here’…?”
Sam, 29, Administrator
Simple rule #2: Don’t do anything you wouldn’t do in the office.
Unless you spend days re-arranging the stationary cupboards at work, then we wouldn’t recommend doing it at home. Listen to music, sure, but no TV, no baking, no cleaning, no DIY, no pedicure, manicure, or most other home spa treatments in fact. If you do find yourself distractedly doing something non-work, conjure up a mental picture of all your office colleagues looking at you and shaking their heads in resigned disappointment – that should cure you.
“It’d be fine if it were just me – but it’s not. My chatty partner also works at home, there’s the cat, there’s the opera singer in the flat above, the school kids on the corner…. . It’s just WAY more stressful than the office.”
Piotr, 42, Graphic Designer
Simple rule #3: Find your own space.
Ideally you have a spare room you can use, but if not, don’t despair. The hell that are open-plan offices have taught us well and you can apply the same lessons at home. Find a nook, create physical barriers around you, stick on your headphones, and ignore the world.
If you do find yourself distractedly doing something non-work, conjure up a mental picture of all your office colleagues looking at you and shaking their heads in resigned disappointment - that should cure you.
“By the afternoon, I feel so sluggish, my eyes are heavy and my flatmate comes back to find me, on the sofa, snoring & drooling… .”
Tam, 23, Programmer
Simple rule #4: Give yourself a break.
You’re not partaking in a lab experiment, you are allowed to take a bit of time off. And staying in all day is not going to make you feel particularly energetic. If you can, go for a walk – get some fresh air and burn off 5% of the caffeine you’ve no doubt overdosed on. Helps to clear the head, and prevent the worst of the cabin fever (“Oh, there is a world out here”). If you’re self-isolating then it’s yoga in the front room for you.
“I have to do all these video calls and I can just tell people are looking beyond me at the mess in my kitchen and judging me… .”
Ling, 32, Publishing Manager
Simple rule #5: Find a blank wall.
You may need to re-arrange a bit of furniture but just have a blank wall as your call background – people are nosey and yes, Ling, they are judging you. No-no’s: beds (creepy), bathrooms (just plain wrong on so many levels), windows (distracting), by the pool (infuriating), on your lap (unless under your chin is your best angle).
“I get kinda lonely – I mean, I don’t speak to anyone all day. And no, the mailman doesn’t count.”
Jim, 35, Editor
Simple rule #6: It’s good to talk.
It’s not a hostage situation, you are allowed to communicate with the outside world. Call up a colleague, get on Slack, text people. People need social contact to validate their existence, or conversely, they just really, really like to gossip about co-workers: “OMG, did you see Ling’s kitchen? Seriously, who has laundry hanging over their oven like that?”
“Time gets away from me, and I’m still working late into the night, dinner forgotten.”
Rishi, 27, Designer
Simple rule #7: See simple rule #1.
Without the rhythms of the office, it is hard to know where the beginning or end is. But as we said at the start, keep a work routine going. Try stopping at exactly the same point you would usually leave the office. Close any work tabs on your computer, and actually say to yourself: “And I’m done” (expletive optional depending on your day). Then do something to treat yourself – a bar of chocolate, a bath – and delight in the fact you’re not on that crappy commute home.
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