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Home working – A survival guide

Just as businesses have had to quickly adapt in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, thousands of people have made changes too. The last few weeks have seen many people working from home for the first time and dealing with the challenges that come with it. Even those who occasionally work from home have had to adjust their way of working.

Our colleagues Michelle Finch and Jade Martin recently attended a webinar run by Magenta Associates about survival tips for home working – here are their main takeaways.

Did you work from home prior to the lockdown? What is different now than from before?

Michelle: I used to work from home a couple of days each week so didn’t think I needed survival tips – but now I’m glad I attended the webinar. My husband is also working from home, and though we each have our own room to work from we’ve still had to be mindful of each other and manage our routines to accommodate the other person.

Jade: I’ve had flexibility in my work schedule and used to take advantage by working from home one day each week. Now that it’s every day I’ve had to revise my usual routine to make sure I stay motivated, productive and healthy.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Michelle: I’m fortunate to have a great set-up with a work desk and chair, as well as relatively few distractions. My biggest challenge has been the mental aspect. Video calls are great but it’s not the same as chatting around the water cooler in the office. I’ve also had times when I can feel my motivation or productivity dipping. I try to take regular breaks and remind myself that it’s completely normal to have an off-day. Tomorrow is a new day and a chance to start fresh.

Jade: I moved into a new flat shortly before the lockdown started and don’t have any living room furniture yet – I miss having a sofa! I also miss face-to-face interaction with my team, but finding new ways of interacting with them has brought fun and variety to my day.

What is your top survival tip for working from home?

Michelle: Having a daily routine has always been important for me, and this has been critical during lockdown. My husband and I have settled into a routine of walking our dog, having breakfast and being at our desks by 9 each morning. This familiar start to the day really helps me to focus, and little breaks to let the dog into the garden or make a drink make sure I’m not glued to my seat for hours on end.

Jade: Structuring my day has been vital. It allows me to be disciplined but also realistic, and I can set time for focused periods of work as well as regular breaks.

Do you have any other advice?

Michelle: Make sure you maintain your relationships with colleagues and clients. A text or call every so often will be much appreciated. I have sent messages to all of my staff, including those that have been furloughed, and the responses were great. This simple action was so effective and receiving positive responses gives me a buzz for the rest of the day.

Jade: Don’t be afraid to reach out to colleagues for a chat whether it’s work-related or not. In fact, catching up about things other than work can provide a much-needed mental break and strengthen relationships as well.

Thanks to Michelle and Jade for sharing their thoughts and feedback!