For some individuals, the opportunity to work predominantly from home suits their working style or personality far better. For instance, this guide on neurodiversity in the workplace suggests that many neuro-diverse workers will feel more comfortable working away from others, and this should be supported by employers through more flexible working policies.
For many others, the idea of not being able to socialise during the day or have those impromptu mid-morning meetings makes working from home a difficult undertaking. Whether you prefer working in the comfort of your home, or you can’t wait to get back to ‘normal’ life, chances are that remote working, in some form or another, is here to stay.
So, how can you make it work to your advantage? Here are four things you need to remember whilst working from home:
Keep work and home life separate as best you can
Maintaining clear boundaries between your work and home life is far easier said than done when working remotely. When working in an office, your downtime begins as soon as you step out of the door at the end of the day, or once you begin your commute home. Whilst these things seem like unnecessary inconveniences in today’s world, they are actually incredibly useful tools in helping us to switch off from professional responsibilities.
If you’ve ever felt guilty about not doing work in the evening, or have been tempted to quickly flip open the laptop after you’ve logged off, chances are you aren’t getting the balance quite right.
Fortunately, there are some good habits we can all adopt to help draw the line. For instance, packing away your laptop/workspace at the end of the day can help reduce the temptation to log back on out of hours. Alternatively, consider faking your commute, and going for a walk or bike ride at the beginning and end of each day, to help physically draw the line between work and leisure time.
Take some time off
With many people reaping the benefits and convenience of working from home, the days and weeks can fly by before you realise you haven’t taken any time off. Even if you don’t have any plans and do nothing particular, spending a day away from the screen every now and again can be helpful in maintaining a good work-life balance, as well as helping your general wellbeing.
Don’t let your social life suffer
Some days, it might seem like an impossible task to drag yourself out of the house after a long day at work, particularly when the bed or sofa is just a spin of an office chair away. But, with post-work socials and lunchtime meet-ups no longer part of your working week’s agenda, it is important to replace these former customs with new habits.
Whether this means simply meeting up with friends for a chat and a coffee, or centres around a sporting activity, any form of regular social interaction will go a long way to helping you cope with the pressures of the new normal. Not only can physical activity help to counteract any feelings of isolation or loneliness, but exercise has also been proven to help boost your mood, which can be beneficial in both your work and personal life.
Ask for support
It’s easy to become isolated when working from home, and feel as if you are tackling your professional responsibilities all on your own. Whilst you may not be able to quickly approach a colleague’s desk to ask for help, it is important not to fall into the trap of thinking you can’t still call upon their skills to help you with your daily tasks.
Whether you use an instant messaging platform, or have access to a video calling service, it is vital you maintain good channels of communication whilst away from the office. It can be easy to feel like you’re pestering your colleagues, or you might think your question is too small to bother asking but, particularly when starting a new role, your team will be on hand to answer any questions to help you settle in as quickly as possible.
Remember, you’re not alone!
Zoe is a consultant and researcher, in digital content and media.