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Ultimate Guide to Working From Home


The essential tips, tricks, and life hacks

By the end of this article you should be able to say, “Got 99 problems, but working from home ain’t one”.

A few short weeks ago, it’s safe to say that you’d never heard the terms ‘physical distancing’ or ‘social distancing’. But it’s now used on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis, as we continue working together to contain the global pandemic, known as COVID-19. The rhythm of our ‘usual’ routine and lifestyle has flipped on its head, in order to sync with government changes and ensure we live a safe and a virus-free life.

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, an increasing number of organizations are taking the advice of government health bodies and sending their employees home to work remotely. In a bid to #flattenthecurve, this reduces daily interactions and face-to-face contact with others. The risk of exposure and threat of the infection made sense to switch the daily commute and 9-5 shifts from the office and into the comfort of your very own home. As your new place of work, shared home space, and personal space, it’s not necessarily a straightforward plan to plant a desk in a room and hope for the best.

As the switch unfolds, the challenges creep in – the unlimited freedom with no or few immediate consequences surrounding the tantalizing distractions without management over your shoulder. It can be all too easy to glance up at the television and an hour passes, a lack of motivation and a wave of bad habits can set in place — like concrete.

Ok, so here’s the good news; there are some simple hacks you can add to your work-from-home schedule to ensure you remain in tip-top professional condition, but still, have fun.

Try these tips and tricks to create the best remote-working environment.

Create a dedicated office space…

In order to create that separation between home and work, you need a space. If you have a dedicated office space, you’re one of the lucky ones. As this is now a full-time decision until further notice, you may also find yourself running into a few challenges.

The majority will be taking over an already functioning room when selecting (if there are options) which room it should be. Pick an area that is clean, has good natural light, and one you enjoy being in.

TIP: Don’t underestimate the influence of your remote working space: somewhere messy, dark, and generally un-office-like will make your days a drag.

… and no, your bed, sofa or milk crate doesn’t count

We all need rules. The 1st rule for remote working is: get up and do work. It seems simple, right?

What you may think is ideal vegging out all day under your blankets, the reality is that the work will continue to pile up.
Bed + Work = Unproductive.

Your sleep, posture, and general productivity will become impacted by this decision – to benefit and maintain a healthy night’s sleep and your working day, it’s better to face the day (clothed) from a vertical position.

Find a comfortable chair

The definition of comfortable

adjective: comfortable

  • (especially of clothes or furnishings) providing physical ease and relaxation.
  • free from stress or tension.

The kitchen stool/dining table chair might be ‘comfortable’ now but assess whether that’s going to be the same answer in 3+ months’ time.

Okay, so you have options here. Go hard and purchase some serious office furniture, grab the chair from your office – if safe and easy to do so, hire a chair from an office store or look for a decent second-hand chair.

It’s not just an immediate comfort high you are looking for. Spending countless hours in a chair that does not provide the support for your back and pelvis can lead to musculoskeletal pain. It’s time to find the right throne for your remote office space and do some research. Ask a co-worker or office manager for suggestions on the best chair and places to get one.

Make sure those in your household respect your working zone

It might seem like a good idea to have your loved ones and mates hanging around your ‘new’ office but the reality is, these distractions will get in the way of your focus. You’ve got to get in the zone.

Finding a dedicated space, now that most folks are at home can be a little tricky. It’s important to understand and set some clear boundaries around your working hours, and when you need to stay focused and dedicated to a task. Head down mode.

Find your groove and set a daily routine…

No coats or shoes needed to work your way into the office these days. The chances are your commute has been reduced from a handful of kilometers to a couple of steps, however, set your alarm clock for the usual time all the same.

Morning routine: Get out of bed, get showered and dressed for your day – casual Friday is fine, but your pajamas, not so much.

What is your usual mode of transport to work? Do you cycle in? Go for a cycle. Do you normally walk to work? Then go for a walk and grab coffee, juice, groceries. Do you read on the train? Take time to read. If you play games or listen to a podcast, then continue to do so.

Just think, how do I usually set myself up for the day as you head into the office? Preserve it as best as you can and follow suit. This shift is visibly physical but also a mental shift; stick to the ritual.

…including when you leave work

It’s weird but create an EOD routine, 🔔 home-time 🔔

Balance is one of the hardest things to get right in life, but it’s key. Now that your job has never been so close to home, it doesn’t mean it has to take over. Set yourself a strict cut off time when your day is done – clock off and log off. Shut down your computer/laptop and tidy up your desk.

Wash up your coffee mug and water glass for the day, pop away your stationery, and enjoy some relaxation time.

Switching off when you are so close to work, is the one thing we can all agree is tough.

It’s crucial to respect your free time or you could discover resentment towards your job.

Connection; both professional and personal

We are social beings – we rely on our colleagues for professional reasons, but they’re also the people we spend the most amount of time with during the working week.

If you don’t know this already, it’s time to realize the importance of your work fam; check-in regarding general wellbeing, open channels of communication for both work correspondence and water cooler banter.

At Donesafe we’ve created dedicated channels in Slack for ‘rando’ things, ‘announcements’, ‘dogs’, and ‘banter’ in order to continue sharing as you would face-to-face in the office.

We’ve also been given the luxury of taking time out of our busy schedules to attend virtual team pub lunches, virtual happy hours with games, and virtual home workouts with the team.

A working time management structure…that works

Easier said than done, but organize your time management and be the master of your tasks. There are many guidelines to follow, but you will have your down days. To navigate these ups and downs, we recommend having rigid time management rules in place to follow, which can help you get back on track to productivity central. A popular technique – Pomodoro technique says to break down your working day into 30-minute chunks: 25 minutes of work followed by 5 minutes of break. There’s a range of methods out there; have a look around and see what works best for you.

Resist the urge to splurge and stream

What’s that sound? That’s the sound of temptation calling to watch all your favorite shows or hit-up online shopping. With your living room just steps away from your desk – actually, you may be working from your living room. The temptation to stream an episode here or there will be strong. But resist the urge. That ‘one’ episode of Tiger King on Netflix could snowball into the whole 7 hours as you walk into the world of big cats. Sorry, not here to add more temptation.

The rule of thumb should be, if it doesn’t fly in the office, then it shouldn’t fly at home. Your Netflix shows and online purchases will be ready and waiting once you log off for the day.

Go Outside

Reduce the number of times you are leaving the house and ensure it’s for essential reasons inline with recommendations from the government.

There’s been some confusion around the terms ‘social distancing’ and ‘self-isolation.’ The two have been used interchangeably in recent reports.

They are not the same.

Sitting on your balcony, yard or garden will not immediately expose you to the risks of COVID-19, as long as you maintain 1.5 meters away from others, it’s fine to get out of the house/apartment.

Leaving your house to explore the great outdoors, isn’t quite a thing right now but leaving for groceries or exercise can help stimulate your mind which is important for your wellbeing.

The mental health and wellbeing of yourself and others are likely to suffer the impact of this pandemic as it continues to unfold over the coming weeks/months. A simple act like taking a walk in the sun can truly help you more than you think. Schedule a daily morning coffee walk, pick walking over driving, and grab some groceries, or count your steps towards exercise for the day.

These 9 tips, tricks, and essential life hacks will help you stay focused, safe, and in full control of your COVID working from home life. If you have a to-do list, add these on to your list now, find a time to work on your dedicated workspace and the changes you are facing. Remember to tick them off sooner rather than later otherwise that lower back pain and volume of workload might surprise you.

To find out more about Donesafe and how we can help, check us out here.

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