As we are all aware, we are going through something of an unprecedented situation. The vast majority of us are being told to work remotely to prevent the spread of Covid-19, but remote working can be a shift for those unfamiliar with how to balance working from home with day to day life.
At Eighteen O Four, we are a 100% freelance consultancy consisting of predominantly remote workers, we choose to work remotely and wouldn’t want it any other way. Our lives are richer for it and our team are happy and lead flexible lives; however there is no denying that it isn’t for everyone, and many people find working from home a lonely experience.
Here are our tips for working remotely and keeping energy and fun in your life:
- Set boundaries between work and home where possible, reinforced by routine. Set yourself a schedule and tasks for your working day and stick to it. When the workday is over shut down your laptop, close your notebook and let your evening begin. Don’t be tempted to blur the lines between work and home, or your mental wellbeing will suffer in the long run.
- Wake up at your normal time and use those extra commuting minutes to do something positive such as meditation, Yoga or Pilates. Maybe read a chapter of a book you’ve been holding on to for a while or make a sourdough starter.
- Eat healthily, exercise and get dressed. Just because nobody sees you but the postman doesn’t mean he wants to see you in your pyjamas every day. Plus, you may still need to be on video calls, so don’t get caught out! (It isn’t a good look to be on a video call half dressed!)
- Try to think of the positives – remember, remote working can have huge benefits. Maybe you have been able to spend more time with family and feel more connected. Maybe you’re commuting less, and your stress levels are reduced as a result. Maybe you’re saving on petrol or train fares, even small positives are all good things to focus on.
- Don’t think working from home needs to look like your workplace. If you aren’t comfortable at a desk, or you don’t have one, it is ok to be flexible! You can just as easily work from the sofa, standing in the kitchen, whatever works. Try to vary your environment several times throughout the day if you can.
- If you have children at home of any age, working from home presents new challenges for you. If you have young children, try to find time when you know they will be sleeping or able to be looked after by anybody else also working in the house so that you can carve out some time. You may need to let people know you’ll be working outside of your normal hours so that you can catch up when they are asleep or distracted.
- If you have children doing exams, finding time and space for them to be able to revise will be challenging balanced with working parent(s), especially if you need to be on calls. Try to find a quiet place for them to work from if possible, and if they can listen to music or wear ear defenders then it might help the situation. If you can’t avoid having to make calls, make sure they are aware in advance so they can plan around you.
- Music can really help to keep you focused. Generally classical or dance music without lyrics can be good if you’re trying to focus. If you find that you’re reaching too much for your phone and distractions, set your Spotify etc to offline. You can download playlists and not get distracted by messages. If that fails, keep your phone on the other side of the room, face down and turn notifications off!
- As tempting as it can be, don’t drink too much caffeine. Overconsumption can cause insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, and other side effects. Basically, when already anxious, don’t drink too many stimulants!
- Remember to take regular breaks. When you are working on your own, it can be easy to get in the zone and forget to pause. Just like you would in an office, take regular breaks to make and eat lunch (away from your desk!) have a cup of tea, chat to a friend on the phone, go for a short walk or stretch your legs. It will help break up the day and give your mind a mental reset.
- Keep the TV off – working from home is not the time to catch up on Netflix (even just in the background). It’s a distraction that you don’t need and isn’t productive. Save Netflix for when the workday has ended.
- Try to build a support network with those who work in a similar industry and make time for regular calls / hangouts. Socialising, even if it’s just over the phone is great for your sanity.
- It’s important to note that people who are actually sick (virus or no virus) should not work just because they are at home and they can.
Finally, remember, crucially in the current crisis, we are all experiencing this anxiety at the same time and people band together in times of anxiety. Italians serenade each other from balconies, people’s strange senses of humour come out to play on social media. Don’t feed the panic, try to remember that it will eventually pass us by, and keep busy.
Eighteen O Four are leading a piece of research this year which focuses on remote work in relation to deurbanisation and future trends. If we all worked from home, or even a quarter of workers currently based in cities could work remotely, then what would that do to how many people wanted and needed to live in cities? If you have always wanted to live in the country and know that it would be more affordable for you – this might be your opportunity. As we know, China’s emissions have been greatly reduced lately because of the situation, and this isn’t just something relevant to China. In light of the current climate crisis, surely remote working in some respect might hold some answers to lower emissions, lower house prices and greater distribution of wealth and skillsets across the country. The future of work might be happening right now much sooner than expected, and it is how we respond to change and adversity that shows us what kind of people and leaders we can be as we move forward.
Article by Holly Marriott, Founder and CEO and Kirsty Hurrell, Talent and Business Development Director at Eighteen O Four
About Eighteen O Four
At Eighteen O Four, we have created a global network of highly skilled freelancers for our clients to partner with across their projects. Our aim is to drive innovation and support companies to evolve their human capital strategies to become more agile, our core focus being agile project management with a focus on digital and tech solutions. We enable our clients to work with our network either 1:1 or in managed team engagements, bringing all of the benefits of a large consultancy, but crucially feeding in our expertise of the project economy and our experience at the forefront of the future of work.
Working across our global partner network, we find the right fit for your projects quickly, efficiently and expertly. Our associate model allows our network to continue to work flexibly with their other clients, supporting their ability to grow a diverse client portfolio. We find importantly, that our working methods keep down costs due to our innovative approach. We are proud that our remote highly functioning project teams are helping to support the net-zero agenda and also allow our network the ability to live and work anywhere. This feeds into our global strategy to support greener more sustainable careers, work positively to set an example for mental health and wellness of our teams, and to help our clients to find a balance that works for them. We encourage our clients to react positively to change, finding the opportunities in every challenge and to respond openly and receptively to challenge their traditional mindsets.