As you get ready to embrace lockdown 2.0 and enter yet another cycle of work from home, we’re coming to your rescue. Here’s a refresher course on the best tips, tricks and hacks on how to work from home effectively without comprising your physical or mental health. Some points may sound obvious (we’ve been doing it for a year), but we still need the reminder.
N°1: Get up and dress up!
The morning prep is essential for your mind-set. Try to keep to the same routine as usual. Set the same alarm, take your shower, brush your teeth, exercise a bit, do some stretches (more than usual if possible), put on some light makeup and finally get dressed properly. No pajamas or jogging pants. Muriel Siebert, the first woman to hold a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, worked from home at the beginning of her career and used to put on pantyhose every day so she felt more professional. Channel that!
Rule N°2: Create your own work space
If you think you can work from your bed, think again… It’s a no go! Find a quiet little space in your home (preferably not your bedroom), set up your ‘desk’ and adjust the lighting. When your working day is over, lock the door. It will lock it away in your mind as well. If that’s not possible, try to isolate yourself as much as possible, in a corner of the living room or behind a bookshelf or a storage unit, with enough light (no direct sun preferably), or even in the kitchen. When your day is over, pack up your computer and your files into a bag. Finished for the day. “See U tomorrow!”
Rule N°3: Avoid interruptions
Establish your territory. Talk to your family members about the hours you are working and set ground rules during those hours. Assume that anything that can interrupt you will interrupt you and your concentration, such as your kids running around you during a conference call or your husband looking for his socks. The solution: put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door or pin it onto the back your Gucci sweatshirt.
Rule N°4: Adopt the correct position
Use the most comfortable chair you can, with back support. Adjust your computer screen in front of you, like you would do in your office. Try to maintain a good position to avoid back pains. Also use a hands-free headset or pop in your earbuds for long phone calls to avoid propping your cell-phone between your head and shoulders. You don’t want to look like Quasimodo later!
Rule N°5: Experiment with a new sitting-standing method
Why don’t you try a “standing desk,” by perching your laptop on top of a bookshelf? As a society, we are spending more and more time sitting than we perhaps ever have! We have to be cautious as it is dangerous for our health (muscle degeneration, diabetes, colon cancer, back pain…). That’s why regular activity throughout the day is essential for your health and well-being, whether you decide to sit or stand. Or a mix both!
Rule N°6: Be kind to yourself
Working from home can be a big transition. You might feel any combination of lonely, isolated, stressed, frustrated, anxious, unmotivated, or, on the other hand, relieved, relaxed, energized, or productive. It’s normal. You’re not Superman (or woman!) Any transition takes time to get used to.
Rule N°7: Plan your day
Try to set limits to your working hours. Decide on your start and finishing times. Don’t be too zealous. Be reachable wherever you are and whatever you’re doing in your own home (but perhaps not on your toilet break!). Draw up a realistic and practical“to do list” and stick to it.
Rule N°8: Take some breaks
Set an alarm to get up and stretch every hour. Have a proper lunch break with your family at a regular time. Take a 4 o’clock breather with your kids (and keep your hands off their biscuits or you will pay for that later as well!). Breaking up the day and moving your body enables you to refresh and will increase your productivity.
Rule N°9: Protect your (family) time
The concern many managers have about their employees working from home is that remote workers are really just doing laundry, doing their nails, baking cookies and binge watching Netflix. In fact, the opposite is usually true – people tend to work more from home because it’s harder to “leave” work. According to a study by Greenworking Cabinet, the gain in productivity is on average of 22%. So don’t over-work! Keep time for yourself and your family.
Rule N°10: Communicate with your co-workers
Don’t hesitate to share information with your colleagues, without over-communicating. If you are a manager, tell your team how they can reach you. Be clear with them about any new or different communication and productivity expectations you may have. Send a daily or weekly update on what they’ve been working on. The more guidance and boundaries you provide, the fewer misunderstandings will occur and the easier it is for work to stay on track.
Rule N°11: Use phone calls for clarification
Email, text, IM, Slack, and other written methods of communication are prone to misunderstandings. When you feel that this is happening, be sure to pick up the phone to resolve these issues. If a team mate is being too pushy when it comes to replies, have a direct conversation about expectations and timelines.
Rule N°12: Promptly answer to your emails, calls, and voice mails.
People tend to be more aware of time when working remotely. Be it fair or not, a colleague might find a four-hour response time to an email much too delayed. Confirm receipt of messages asap and check in with people at the beginning and end of your days.
Rule N°13: Create a “studio” for video conferences.
Video conferences are commonplace for remote workers. Make sure to have a professional or plain background. Careful! Don’t expose your underwear drying on the radiator behind you. Check that you have adequate lighting and a decent microphone (most earbuds work just fine).
Rule N°14: Create a system for sharing documents.
If you don’t already, now would be a good time to consider Google Docs, Box, or Dropbox to share files. Don’t scatter team files between your email, Google Docs, and your personal hard drive. Get organised.
Rule N°15: Keep chatting with your colleagues, friends and family.
Say goodbye to your coffee break at the cafeteria! No more bumping into colleagues in the halls or elevator. No one to congratulate you on your new “homemade” hair cut (which is actually a real mess). Having a chitchat and human connection are very important things to maintain. Make time every day to text with colleagues and share stories. And do the same with your friends and family during your breaks. Stay connected.
Rule N°16: Speak “face to face,” even if you find it uncomfortable.
To avoid feeling isolated, use video technology to connect with your team and colleagues in a more intentional, natural way. Human interaction, especially if remote work is new for you, can make all the difference in your productivity and mental and emotional well-being. (Pro tip: When you’re speaking, look up at the camera on your computer – not at the screen – so people can see your eyes!)
Our Top 5 Desk Exercises
There are plenty of stretches to do at your desk that are not only effective, but easy to seamlessly integrate into your work day. So, if you’re looking for creative ways to get in some exercise, look no further:
Calf Raises: Stand up straight and use your chair or desk for support. Slowly raise up onto your tip toes, hold this position and then slowly lower back down. Aim for three sets of 10.
Tricep Dips: Face away from the front of your desk or chair. With your arms straight, grab the front edge with your hands, then extend your legs out so your butt is just in front of the chair or desk. Slowly lower down until your butt is completely below the front edge, then slowly raise back up. Do 10 sets.
Invisible Chair: Stand a few inches in front of your chair, facing the direction you would if you were about to sit down. Extend your arms out in front of you for a counter balance. Keeping a straight back, slowly lower down until your butt just touches the front end of your chair (but don’t rest your weight on the chair). Hold for a few seconds, then slowly raise back up to a standing position. Try 10 to 20 sets.
Desk Push-ups: Facing either the front or side of your desk, grab the edge with your hands about shoulder width apart. Walk your feet away from the desk until you reach a distance that allows you to have a straight back while standing on your toes. Slowly lower down (maintaining a straight back) until your chest almost touches the edge of the desk. Pause for a moment, then slowly raise back up. If you can adjust the height of your desk, lower it for more resistance, or raise it for less. Do three to five sets of 10.
Chair Leg Lifts: While sitting on your chair, grab a firm hold of the sides of the chair with your hands. With control, slowly bring your knees to your chest, then slowly kick them out straight in front of you and hold for a moment. See if you can do 10 to 20 sets.
From: ELLE International