We’ve all heard the story about working from home a thousand times. It’s the new normal, Covid19 has affected the way we function, businesses have moved out of traditional offices- you name it, we’ve read it (and sometimes written it).
To many, the concept of “new normal” isn’t even new anymore – it’s pretty much standard practice. Many of us have adapted, some have changed, others still learning. Yet, strangely, we occasionally find ourselves sprawled on the couch from time to time, frantically scrambling up three flights of stairs while wiping Dorito residue from our mouths as we hear that “ping” on Teams.
Working from home has its benefits, but also presents its fair share of challenges.
Which is why we’re putting together this handy guide to ensure you still have work and a home come the end of the year.
Step One: Shower. Always shower.
Aside from good form, domestic bliss and the obvious need for hygiene in the middle of a pandemic, nothing gets you out of ‘bed mode’ quite like a good morning scrub. While it’s tempting to lay in until the last possible second (we’d use our laptop as a pillow if we could), the fact is you don’t really snap out of the snooze until the water hits your face.
Getting into a full morning routine despite not having an office to go to can genuinely alter the way your workday goes. Brush your teeth, shower, have a schedule and stick to it. Or, if none of those work for you, just make sure you shower. Pants and socks, however, well they’re completely optional.
Step Two: Remember to Eat.
It’s so easy to get sucked in a vortex of work that sometimes you lose track of time. More so when there’s no co-workers coughing next to you or throwing a paper plane at your head. While in the office we’d often find ourselves clock watching, sometimes at home we look up and it’s four hours later (relativity and all that).
The key to getting the most done during your day is taking the time to eat, drink and keep your body fuelled so that your mind can do its thing. Remember, this isn’t college anymore and, tempting as a two-minute noodle and Red Bull diet may seem, we don’t think they’re meant for anyone whose knees crack when they stand up.
Step Three: Communicate.
They say no man (or woman, it’s 2021) is an island, and for the most part this is true. While many confuse making meowing noises at their cat or using a baby voice on their Rottweiler a surrogate for human interaction, studies show that it’s really, really not.
Unless you’re Marc Zuckerberg, you need to be compatible with other humans to some extent. Working from home can be the most liberating, distraction free feeling in the world- like Ritalin for adults. However, after a while it does feel like solitary, and you can easily find yourself isolated from your team without even realising it.
Take the time to touch base with the people around you. Emails are great, but those passive aggressive “as per my last request’s” tend to add up. Engage in team building, meet up for drinks or even just chat now and again- we’re social creatures, and we need to get along (at least until Skynet takes over).
Step Four: Pace yourself.
Remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint. An 8-hour marathon that continues every day, but a marathon nonetheless.
Go at your own pace so as not to burn out by the time you reach 3pm. Get up, stretch, take walks, spy on whether your domestic worker is actually busy or go to the gym if you have time. Take a moment to live, take a moment to fly, take a moment to love (and don’t ask why).
What’s the point of working from home if you’re glued to a desk for hours on end anyway? We do recommend checking your calendar before taking a breather, however, because nothing is worse than getting an ‘incoming video call’ while you’re on the can.
Step Five: It’s in the Setup.
A terrible chair and washing machine for a desk can quickly make your day go pear shaped. It may be an investment, but we advise using the money you’d otherwise have spent on petrol on the correct setup. Your desk is where you’ll spend the better part of your day- it needs to look good, feel good and maintain the weight of you smashing it every time the signal drops.
Step Six: Track your time.
The easiest way to get stuck mucking around is to eliminate the concept of accountability. This may not be primary school, but nothing kills a sense of urgency like knowing there’s no deadline. Some bosses are chilled, others related to Satan, but all companies have things that need to be completed- and with WFH, it’s often your job to self-govern.
If you’re fortunate enough to not work on a timesheet or per project structure, implement a system that involves measuring how you spend your workday. Set deadlines for yourself, find new ways to keep mentally stimulated or feel the wrath of falling in a rut- which is a very, very bad place to be. Just ask any political party ever.
Ultimately, it’s an interesting time to be alive. We have oranges as former politicians and telling people to back off is a social norm. We live in a society where “no touchey” is now a compliment, and we can skip as many weddings as we like without feeling like a tool.
Work, however, continues, which makes many of us more fortunate than others. The trick is finding the discipline and motivation required to keep going when unsupervised while avoiding “1984” references on a Teams call with your boss.