With everyone adjusting to working from home and trying to avoid going crazy under the government lock-down, we thought we would share some tips to help you adjust, keep your mental and physical health in shape, and improve your remote working experience.
Regular exercise will keep your mind and body healthy, and will counteract the extended periods of sitting down at a desk. Any exercise is good exercise, and the NHS recommend you undertake at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity (IE: brisk walk, or riding a bike at a comfortable pace), or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity (IE: jogging or running, riding a bike at a fast pace, or swimming) per week. However ensure you keep to the one exercise outside of the house per day rule currently enforced by the UK Government.
Tip: Why not replace your regular morning commute with a new exercise routine? If you're new to exercise you can try the couch to 5k programme.
Try and create a dedicated office space
Understandably, some people don't have the luxury of space in their home and you don't need to dedicate an entire room for your office, although it's nice if you can. Simply setting up one area of a room for your work can help you step in and out of work mode, otherwise it's easy to over-work or under-work.
Have the right tools for the job
Most people that are working from home will be doing so on a laptop, which means many will be sat on the sofa, laying in bed, etc. when working. This can lead to long-term problems with posture and RSI, as laptops aren't ergonomically designed. Purpose built desks and office chairs would be ideal but you can always improvise here and make standing desks by using the ironing board, or a kitchen work surface. A keyboard, mouse, and monitor (set to the correct height) should be top of your purchase list as these are far more comfortable to work with and reduce the risk of RSI.
Take regular breaks
HSE (2003, p.24) recommend taking regular breaks to help reduce fatigue and eye strain when spending extended periods of time at a computer:
"[...] frequent breaks are more satisfactory than occasional, longer breaks: for example a 5-10 minute break after 50-60 minutes continuous screen and/ or keyboard work is likely to be better than a 15-20 minute break every 2 hours."
Maintain regular working hours
You can be flexible if your employer allows you to, but chances are your customers and team are working standard hours as you would have been in the office, so try to stick to this for best chances of staying in contact with your network. Make sure you don't go past your scheduled hours, as it's very easy to carry on into the night when you're already at home!
Keep in contact with your regular network
A lot of people feel isolated when stuck indoors and it's natural human instinct to want to express and receive social behaviours such as facial expressions and biological motion (Adolphs, 2003). FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp video are all just a handful of options available for you to stay connected and maintain some form of social interaction. Video call your friends in your breaks and your customers, suppliers, and colleagues during your work hours; chances are they're feeling just as isolated as you are!
Set some ground rules with your household
Working from home with members of the family, children, housemates, or even pets can be very distracting. It's important to set some rules for yourself and those you share your living space with to make sure workflow interruptions are reduced to a minimum. Socialise on scheduled break times, then go into 'do not disturb' mode to maximise productivity. It might also be worthwhile investing in some noise cancelling headphones to remove noise distractions, and music can help you focus on a particular task.
Plan your tasks the day before
At the end of the day, take ten minutes to plan out any remaining work to do the following day, but don't forget to leave some free time for anything urgent that may come across your desk. Being organised in this way will help your productivity and allow you to keep a record of what has been completed and what is outstanding.
Connect with our team on LinkedIn and send us your tips for working from home and for beating social isolation: https://www.premierlabellers.co.uk/contact
Adolphs, R. Cognitive neuroscience of human social behaviour. Available online: https://www.nature.com/articles/nrn1056 [accessed 26/03/2020].
HSE. 2003. Work with Display Screen Equipment. Available online: https://www.hse.gov.uk/pUbns/priced/l26.pdf [accessed: 26/03/2020].
NHS. 2019. Exercise. Available online: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/ [accessed 26/03/2020].