Create a work space
You won’t see people in your office working from the kitchen for very good reason. Sectioning off work from break spaces signals to our brain that THIS area is where we block out distractions.
Try and replicate this at home by picking a dedicated area or room. It doesn’t matter if you’re working from an old, fold-up table so long as you’re sitting down in the same space at the same time every day. Keep your laptop, notepads, pens and any other work paraphernalia all in one place.
Get out of your pyjamas
Tempting though it may be to start and end your day in PJs, doing so sets a very bad precedent. As does starting to work from bed before you’ve even got up. This sends very mixed signals to your subconscious mind, and may make sleeping harder as your brain begins to associate bed with work and all the related stress that brings. When getting dressed, think ‘casual Friday’ for the whole of the week.
Make good use of your commute time
Everyone may gain an extra hour or two a day so use this wisely. Don’t be tempted to stay in bed or to start work earlier. Have a relaxing breakfast, and do some exercise or yoga to set yourself up for a productive day.
One of the biggest benefits of a physical office is the day-to-day interaction you have with employees. Create virtual water cooler moments by scheduling video conferences with your team — these can be meetings, but it’s also important to arrange regular calls with no agenda. It’s extra important managers check in on their team’s wellbeing and mental health when working remotely. Everyone likes to knock social media but when you are isolating it becomes a lifeline.
Get some fresh air
Remote work can be isolating at the best of times, but during a pandemic you could go stir crazy. Many of the world’s greatest thinkers believe walking clears the mind and makes space for fresh ideas. If you can’t get out, introduce meditation into your day to feel grounded — there are plenty of apps to download.
In the office, take a break when you need it. It may feel like slacking off, but taking regular breaks allow you to work with your natural energy highs and lows and leads to enhanced productivity. Working from home also gives you valuable daydreaming time — a pursuit the University of British Columbia has linked to improved ideas and problem-solving skills.
It’s not easy getting creative when surrounded by silence and facing a blank wall. To boost creativity, listen to classical music, take breaks outside or even read a book. Adding new stimulus to your day will likely spark new ideas and increase feelings of fulfilment and job satisfaction.
Manage your time
For those new to remote working there is an added pressure to prove to bosses that work is still getting done. It is essential that remote workers resist the temptation to skip lunch or work longer hours in order to keep up appearances. Doing so is a one-way ticket to burnout and compromised wellbeing.
When 6pm arrives, where is that end-of-the-day feeling? Bookend your day by scheduling in something fun or social directly after you’ve finished work. Whether it’s a call to your mum, tuning into your favourite radio show or simply taking the dog for a walk, it will create a clearer distinction between work and play, and help you maintain a healthy work-life balance.
■ Chris Griffiths is the author of The Creative Thinking Handbook, and developer of the remote working app ayoa.com