In today’s workplace, most of us are familiar with working from home to some degree. But Covid-19 presents us with a whole different set of challenges. While some of you may be adept at compartmentalising issues and welcome work as a distraction from the news, others will find it virtually impossible to ignore the constant updates, especially at this time when things are moving so fast.

 

Work plus self-care

 

Working from home once or twice a week is also very different to spending your whole time at home without the usual comfort of an office to dial into (especially if you also have children at home). Looking after yourself, and keeping positive, will be every bit as important as sorting the practicalities of your home working day.

We are facing these same issues ourselves at Totum just now. As a team we have left behind our London office for what we hope will be as short a time as possible. But we are determined to keep our lines of communication well and truly open – with each other, as well as with you, our clients, candidates and all those we work with. At times like this, we truly get the importance of sticking together.

So what are our tips for adapting to this new reality? We suggest:

  1. If you haven’t already, get your home office/desk sorted asap – working from a sofa may feel like a comfort just now but establishing a work routine in a work space will help to focus your mind on the job at hand (and enable you to walk away and relax when you’re finished). Try to position your desk away from where you sleep, so you can switch off at the end of the day.
  2. Get your technology ready – Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype… We’ve never been so digitally connected so make the most of it.
  3. You may now be enjoying a break from your daily commute. But try not to let it become an excuse for getting up later or working from bed! Try to keep your weekday routine as close to the norm as possible – get up, washed, breakfasted and dressed as if you were going to go to the office. And in the time you save not having to commute, go for a walk or catch up on some chores (putting a wash on before 9am can feel incredibly productive when you typically barely have time to stop for a sip of tea in the morning). This will help you to start the day with a positive mindset.
  4. If you are really struggling to find focus, try to organise your work into small chunks of time. Allocate yourself deadlines for completing tasks and try to make the time as strict as possible (whilst being realistic) to give yourself a target. If you really can’t get your brain in gear, try to tick off some really easy wins on your to-do list – the things that take five minutes still earn a tick and they can help get the brain engaged for bigger tasks.
  5. Use your phone. It’s so easy to communicate online these days but make an effort to pick up the phone a little more right now. Hearing a colleague’s friendly voice down the line can do wonders to lift the spirits and get you back on track. Remember also to check in on colleagues just to say ‘hello’ – don’t allow an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality to creep up on you.
  6. Be kind to yourself and give yourself regular breaks – these are stressful times. And don’t use your breaks just to catch up on news either! A few minutes to read a good book, call a friend, play the piano or get a stew in the slow cooker for dinner can be hugely restorative. Just be careful of getting distracted for too long. Set a time when you have to be back at your desk.
  7. Ensure you’re factoring time into your day to get exercise. This is extremely important for your mental wellbeing, especially if you are used to, say, running around London to various meetings. Go for a walk or run (if you can get outdoors somewhere quiet), do that workout DVD that’s been collecting dust, look out your old weights, try some yoga. If there’s one silver lining of the current situation it’s that lots of gyms and fitness trainers are offering online classes. Take advantage of them.
  8. And if you have kids at home? Yes, your life just now is doubly complicated, with many schools having distributed home-learning packs for the next few weeks (quite apart from having to factor in childcare 24/7). Fitting that around your work schedule is far from easy but try to set a timetable for the week in advance and stick to it as best you can. Remember, perfect is the enemy of good – so also forgive yourself if a few things don’t quite work out the way you hoped.

And if on days you feel anxious and overwhelmed, remember you’re not alone. No matter where our desks are currently located, we’re all in this together.

If you would like some light relief, come join us at Twitter or on LinkedIn, where we are working hard to keep up the smiles, banter and useful tips in between.

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