A guide for working from home

Working from home is a different type of working than going to your office, library or local café, so Galina Skvortsov, our Development and Communities Manager, has created this helpful guide to support you as you adapt to this new environment....

As we all know, the current advice from the government is to work from home if you can. But what if you don't usually work from home? We're here to help with some tips that we hope will not only make it easier but more sustainable in the long-term. We don't yet know how long these working from home measures may last but we know it's a benefit to public health so let's try our best to make it work.


Negotiate some rules with the people you live with

If you live with others who will also be working at home, set some ground rules. This might be keeping the door closed when on a conference call, knocking before entering another room that someone is working in or more fun things like having a joint lunch break. You may decide to work together in the same room – if you do, make sure you respect each other's space and try not to distract each other too much!


Routines and schedules

We've just mentioned lunch breaks, which are vitally important to make sure you eat well and regularly as well as taking an extended break in the day to let your mind reset. Breaks are an important part of your routine, but remember to also set regular meetings (if applicable) and dedicate specific times to tasks. A schedule can help you plan your day and feel purposeful rather than aimless or distracted. 
As well as a good schedule, make sure you try and start the day at the same time every morning and aim to finish at the same time everyday too. The regularity of routine makes things a lot easier on your brain! Try and start the day with a short meeting (with your team or just yourself!) to check in with how you're feeling, go over what you did yesterday and what you plan on doing today. 

Wellbeing and care

As part of your routine, be sure to include a shower and getting dressed. It sounds obvious, but the temptation to stay in your pyjamas can be very strong and whilst it's fun to have a pyjama day sometimes, it will start to feel gross very quickly. You will feel brighter and more able to "turn off" after the day is done if you change out of pyjamas at the start of every day and back into them at night.
There's also no reason why you can't still dress up if it makes you feel put together. You can still slay in the outfits you would usually try out in the office, wear perfect makeup, do yourself a manicure or put your hair in a new style. Do it for you. Or for your flatmates.


Create a dedicated working space

As well as taking care of you, you need to take care of the space you work in. Choose somewhere that has a table surface and a chair, which has daylight and makes you feel your best to be in. If you want to you can dress it up with flowers, books, postcards and pictures. I know you've got a cute pen pot and highlighters so get those out too. Make sure it's clean and comfortable. Check the light's good for your videocall angles.
And in case you need to hear this: don't work in bed. Do not even go near that lovely bed unless you intend on having a 6 hour "nap" and then waking up at the end of the day feeling groggy.

???Ask for what you need

So you're all set up and ready to work, but you realise you don't have that piece of equipment you need, the password to log in to that software you work with, or you have questions about how your work, well, works from home. Ask right away! Don't put it off, get it sorted and then it won't be a problem in a few weeks when it inevitably prevents you from doing your best work.

Face-to-face time

As part of your routine, try and have a regular meeting to get some verbal and visual contact time with your team, supervisor, manager, tutor or whoever it is you work with. If you can't do something every day try to at least speak to your immediate manager once a week.

If you work alone, make sure you have a friend or someone you live with who you can talk to. Everyone needs to socialise a little and often the best problem-solving can happen when talking things through with others.

Communication is key

It is often advised that you should communicate extra well when working remotely: make sure you over explain what you need, how you need it to be done and when by. The more you communicate to people the easier it is to avoid misunderstandings that could make projects more work than they need to be.

My extra advice is to use a variety of channels to communicate for different circumstances: perhaps if it's a quick question it's best to have a phone conversation or a quick text rather than clog up someone's email inbox with an endless back-and-forth, but for long paragraphs and bullet points I would definitely prefer an email I can read in my own time than a string of WhatsApps or a confusing phone call.

Have a 'good-bye, work!' routine

Chances are you don't have a dedicated home office you can walk away from and shut the door at the end of the day, so when you are done it's a good idea to have a routine to switch your brain from work to home. Some suggestions:

  • clear your inbox if you can

  • have a five-minute video meeting with your team to check-out and say bye or

  • send an email to say you're logging off

  • go for a brief walk to pretend you're commuting

  • have a short stretch or some exercise

Don't work on the weekends

That's it: work when you're supposed to work, turn your emails off when you're off.

Do what's right for you

Ultimately what works for some won't work for others, and whilst this is meant as a quick starting guide you have to be your own judge for yourself. We hope this has given you somewhere to start in finding your own way of working from home.