Author : Harrison Lemon
How to succeed at working from home during the Coronavirus outbreak
With the Corona Virus scare currently amongst us, it’s spread has forced a lot of people out of work. For many of us, working from home is a modern luxury. Not everyone can physically do it but for those that can, it’s now suddenly a must that we work from home to help prevent the spread throughout the workplace.
When it comes to working from home, it may at first seem like clean sailing but can quickly turn sour if you don’t do it right. Working at your home office, you can become your own worst enemy. After the novelty of working in your own environment wears off, suddenly you can start to feel a lot less productive and a lot more lonely if you don’t do it right. There seems to be no real end to your workday.
Don’t get me wrong, working from home can be massively rewarding. That’s only if you manage to keep your productivity levels up and stay level headed, but how do you do that with this Corona Virus scare?
Take care of your mental health
Here at Unit36, we are a strong believer in that your mental health should be one of the most important factors for your working life. If your mental health is tarnished in any way it can seriously affect the way you work. Needless to say, happiness should come before a work-life at all costs regardless.
Work is great for mental health, don’t get me wrong, the feeling of being productive is unrivalled but a negative working environment can lead to some serious mental implications. One reason for this could be the “out of sight, out of mind mentality”. This mentality is brought upon being lonely, it’s the feeling of being left out.
It’s common for people with mental health problems to feel inadvertently negative towards any situation, which is why it can be so difficult working from home with no reassurance from co-workers. It’s the idea of a lack of trust or the feelings of being an outsider. How do we prevent this from happening?
Studies show that loneliness is one of the largest underlying causes associated with a mental illness or mental strain. No-one likes being lonely, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy working alone. Working from home doesn’t have to mean working in solitary confinement. Working from home means you still get the same resources as you would from a normal office working day, just from a different location.
It’s important to over-communicate, you should speak to your colleagues much more than you normally would when you work from home. You don’t have the luxury of body language or the ability to speak to team members whenever you like and you don’t want to miss things. Not only this but on a day when you are primarily working from home, that social interaction can be a large part of your day!
Not only will communication benefit you in a mental sense but it is extremely important in order to keep up with tasks in general and make sure you’re on the same wavelength as everyone in (or not in) the office.
Studies show that your brain can only take so much focus until it starts to taper off. The ability to focus is of extreme importance when it comes to driving excellence, especially in your work. Studies show your attention span can last up to 40 minutes, after that you start getting a lot more easily distracted. That’s why it’s important to take regular breaks.
Spending too much time working on the same thing without a break can actually be counter-productive, meaning you’re actually wasting your time. Having 10-minute intervals between comfortable working periods can really spark the productive AND the creative side.
A common misconception is that taking a break equates to being lazy which is false on so many levels. Multidisciplinary research shows that ” strategic renewal — including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations — boosts productivity, job performance and, of course, health.”
Taking breaks between working can be getting a little bit of exercise or something as simple as stretching. Studies show that exercise can increase brain activity and productivity by up to 21%.
I don’t want to be one of those ridiculous pretentious blog writers that tell you to do yoga every 40 minutes or go on a 6-mile hike claiming it’ll help you perform better. Something as simple as stretching is great for reactivating and refocusing the mind.
Exercise is also known to boost serotonin which is an endorphin produced in the brain that causes you to be happy. These endorphins also contribute to boosting interest and focus levels.
Unfortunately with the Corona Virus outbreak, most gyms will be closed and you’re advised not to go outside, which means no running, cycling or any outdoor activities, but don’t let this discourage you! The possibilities are endless with workouts at home, you just need to get a little creative!
Here are some simple stretch exercises you can perform from the comfort of your desk:
If you’re wanting more of an active workout, here are a few simple exercises you can perform to get your heart rate going!
- Wall sit
- Running (stairs are great for this!)
Treat your day like a normal working day
Treat your day like a normal working day in the office. It’s the little things like dressing up in a shirt instead of laying on the couch in your pyjamas that can really make the difference to your productivity.
“Dress for success” isn’t just a cool catchphrase used by corporate businesses, it really does mean the most when you’re working from home. Beyond the psychological effects of dressing well, no matter the situation, you’ll always be prepared to tackle it; video chats, employee check-ins or any surprise meetings. Not only will you be mentally prepared to work but you’ll be physically prepared for the day.
Build a permanent workspace
Another productivity killer for working at home is working in ‘lounge’ space, the mental psychology applies here too. With the Corona Virus now in full force, if you’re working from home now and the foreseeable future it’s important to set yourself a permanent working station. Not only is this great for psychology but also minimises distractions like the TV.
You should try to avoid TV or any other digital distractions at all costs, but for some people that use it for background noise than its probably ok. Music that compliments your work style or a podcast related to the task you are working on has been found to work much better.
For me, it’s just a desk, a computer and a few ornaments to keep me sain. When I’m in the zone, I actually find I work much quicker from home, I have my own set up that I’m used to. For tips on how to properly personalize your workspace; visit this blog on how to improve your productivity at work.
Structure your day
When working from home, you’re your own personal manager. Structure your working day from home much like a regular working day. Start a schedule in the morning and stick to it! Let’s not forget you now have the freedom for when you start and finish work, find when you feel you are most productive and tailor your schedule for around then!
This means its important to factor in a morning routine and set yourself some ground rules! Choosing when to sit down at your desk at a particular time is one thing but it’s how you get to your chair that’s another. You need to come up with a morning routine that best gets you into the productive state. This might be with a piping hot cup of coffee, a cold shower (not for me), or a morning jog. Remember now you’re working from home, you’ve got that extra time you’d usually be using to commute to play with.
Eat healthy meals & snacks
When it comes to structuring your day, you need to find time to eat! When you’re working from home it’s very easy to slip into the unhealthy lifestyle, ordering takeaways and not looking after yourself properly.
You don’t want to slip into this routine. We have no real grasp on how long the Corona Virus Quarantine could last and you certainly don’t want to come out at the other end a few pounds heavier.
When working from home it’s difficult fitting in the time to cook a fully-fledged meal or even a ‘quick’ healthy snack tutorial from one of your favourite vegan YouTubers, that’s why I’ve stockpiled a list of all my favourite healthy snacks (that require very little effort to make) to keep my going throughout the day:
- A smoothie or a shake (get creative, you can literally blend anything!)
- Fruit and nuts mixture (or just fruit or nuts, it depends on your preference)
- Greek yoghurt and fruit (I like blueberries)
- Any form of wholegrain toast (avocados or eggs are great for this)
- A warm glass of milk (great for late-night working)
- Jacket potato
- Celery, cucumber & carrot sticks with your choice of dip (try not to spill any dip on the keyboard, it’s not a good combo)
Why not use this time to better yourself? In my eyes, your body is just essentially a carrier for your brain. If you keep it in the best shape possible, your brain will work in conjunction with it much more efficiently. You’ll find that you’re actually able to produce work and complete tasks much quicker.