Remote working is becoming increasingly common. Whether your job means you’ll be based at home all of the time or you’ll be mixing it up with some trips to the workplace, it’s worth thinking through your approach.
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How should I get set up?
- Think carefully about where you’ll work best. Things to consider:
- Comfort - how will you protect against things like backache or eye strain? Check out BBC WorkLife’s tips for good ergonomic set-up.
- Mindset - how will your physical environment help or hinder your ability to get in the zone? Do you need silence or would a productivity playlist help? Do you find a view out of the window inspiring or distracting? What objects or equipment will remind you that you’re ‘at work’ and help you to focus?
- What others will see during meetings - is your background appropriate? Tidy up, use the blur background function, or apply a virtual background.
- Permanence - do you have a space for a dedicated home office, or will you need to establish a workday set up routine?
- Take some time to familiarise yourself with whatever devices or equipment you will need to use, and how to access help if you need it. Some organisations will have an IT department that can walk you through any initial set up processes, but if that’s not the case where you work, ask around to find tech savvy colleagues that can help you to troubleshoot.
- Get to know the functionality of the meeting platform your organisation uses. Don’t wait until you’re in a meeting before you try to work out how to unmute yourself, access the chat, or share your screen. Check out ‘how to’ videos online or build confidence by having a practice run first.
How do I maintain wellbeing?
- Just because you can work 24/7 when you’re based at home doesn’t mean you should. Although you might occasionally decide that you’d prefer to work slightly longer to finish a task so you can properly ‘switch off’ at the end of the day, it’s important to try and avoid this becoming the norm. Instead, try to establish regular working hours in order to maintain balance.
- Walk to and from work. This might sound daft because when you’re working at home there is no actual commute, but taking a short walk before you start and when you finish might help you to maintain a boundary between your working day and the rest of your life.
- Take screen breaks. Try some stretches exercises, doodle a picture with a real pen on paper, savour a healthy snack, or pop outside for five minutes and breathe in some fresh air.
- Stay connected. Avoid feeling isolated by building interaction into your day. Schedule ten minutes to say hello to a colleague and share a virtual cuppa, log into online meetings a few minutes early to chat to whoever else is ‘in the room’, arrange to meet a local friend for a wander during your lunch break, or suggest a virtual social activity, like a book group for example.
- Create a Wellness Action Plan. Mind offer a useful template to help you consider your wellbeing when working from home.
How do I ensure I'm working effectively?
- Dress for work. Increased home-working may have sparked a trend for more relaxed workwear, but it’s still worth considering how what you put on will have an impact. while it might be tempting to stay in your pyjamas or opt for slouchy leisure-wear this might not help you to adopt the most productive mindset or communicate a professional persona. Plus, what’s appropriate will vary between organisations and sectors so if you’re unsure about dress code ask your manager or take note of what your colleagues wear.
- Minimise distractions. Let anyone you live with know when you’re working and therefore not available, turn off your personal mobile or mute social notifications, and try not to squeeze in too many household chores
- Between tasks - putting some washing in the machine is one thing but when you find yourself doing a full spring clean, you’re probably procrastinating!
- Avoid a motivation dip. When most of your work is online it might sometimes seem less tangible, and when you’re physically located in the same environment a lot of the time things can start to feel a bit repetitive and uninspiring. Try to combat this by experimenting with different ways to stay engaged and on top of your workload. Explore a range of strategies for managing your workload and maintaining productivity here.
- Ask questions. As a new starter you can’t be expected to know everything and while working at home does mean that you can’t simply spark up conversation with someone at the next desk or wander into another office to ask a question, it's still ok to seek clarification and support. Try to establish a regular virtual catch-up with your manager, use instant messaging or staff forums to build rapport with teammates or pose quick queries, and take advantage of any buddy or mentoring schemes your employer offers.
Remote working podcast
A 35-minute podcast brought to you by Jen Balloch, Employability Officer.
Jen asks UoN alumni, Helen Marshall, about her personal experiences of remote working, her hints and tips as well as things to consider if you are given the opportunity or have been forced into it due to the COVID-19 pandemic.