Due to Covid-19 many of you will for the first time be working from home for a sustained period and for some of you WFH will be a completely new experience. The aim of this is to provide you with guidelines and tips to help you:
- be productive
- maintain a positive sense of wellbeing and
- enjoy your time
while working from home for long periods.
I have run Positively Legal from home for 20 years. Usually, I’m in a couple of days a week, sometimes away all week, sometimes in all week. It’s been a successful and enjoyable experience however it has presented some challenges. In the early days if I had a whole week in the office it was a real struggle to sustain focus and momentum – this is what many of you will be facing over the next weeks and perhaps months. Also, WFH has sometimes been a subject of discussion during my business coaching sessions with lawyers and other businesspeople. So, here goes with my observations and tips.
They won’t all suit everyone but hopefully you can apply a few to your working practices to make WFH as productive and healthy as possible.
- Long term WFH is completely different to doing the occasional day and most of you will need to work hard at creating a structure and approach to perform effectively and maintain a feeling of wellbeing. It’s not just about having the right tech and software!
- Self-management. See it as a specific skillset and develop a pattern of behaviours that suit you.
- Structure is essential; more so than when you are working in the office.
- Create boundaries between work and leisure to enable to switch mentally.
- Workspace. Have a dedicated space to do work, ideally a separate room, and do your work there and nowhere else. This means you know when you’re in work or leisure mode and, very importantly, your family (especially children!) and others in the household know too.
- Discuss with family and others how you plan to go about WFH and agree “rules”.
- Start time - decide the night before and make sure you’re not late!
- Before you begin each day. Chatting to people and/or getting exercise is good. In the current situation mixing with others at eg a health club may be inappropriate but unless you’re self-isolating or it’s no longer permitted, at least go for a walk.
- Clothing 1. Wear what you need to wear to feel you’re in work mode. It took me years to be able to work wearing jeans – sad but true!
- Get momentum - start the day with some quick and easy tasks.
- Sitting - don’t for more than 30 minutes at a time.
- Communication. Keep it frequent and don’t get isolated. Visual is better than audio – use Skype, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Zoom, FaceTime or similar. Early morning team calls are good.
- Screens. Stay away from newspages like msn and only use social media during breaks.
- Domestic activities – don’t do them during working hours except in an emergency (emptying the dishwasher is not an emergency).
- Ice water is the best WFH drink. Plentiful, healthy, free, and increases your metabolic rate.
- Exercise. The beauty of working in the house means colleagues can’t see you! So if your health permits, do simple, short exercises either when you feel like it or on a structured schedule during the day. Push ups and squats are my picks.
- take it!
- have something light
- don’t eat it at your workspace
- don’t put the TV on
- have a short walk afterwards if you’re not self-isolating and we aren’t in full lockdown
- Tasks/activities/objectives – make a list of them for the next day before you finish.
- Clothing 2. Whatever you’re wearing, change into something else when you’ve finished. Having a clear end to the day is important. It’s also another sign to your family and other household members that you’ve finished work. And it dissuades you from dipping back in later.
- Sleep. Keep your phone out of the bedroom - if you need to, buy an alarm!