Working from home for the first time

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, many people are now working from home. It can be challenging at the best of times to transition from working in an office or coworking environment to working from home. But if you’ve never worked remotely before then this change might be even more of a shock.

Here are some practical suggestions on how you can adjust to your new way of working.

Woman working from home using laptop
Create A Workspace

Whether it’s the kitchen table, a dressing table-turned-desk or an actual desk, find a designated spot to work from. No matter how big or small your home is, having a physical space set up specifically for working will help you mentally get into work mode.

Establish a Routine

Working from home warrants a great deal of autonomy, so to help you stay focused and adjust smoothly to your new situation, set your working hours - and stick to them!

Whether you usually work remotely or if this is an entirely new work culture for you and your colleagues, it’s important to manage expectations and workloads. Don’t feel that you need to sacrifice your lunch break or work for longer hours than you usually do, just because you are working from home.

Get Dressed

By all means enjoy swapping your shirt and tie for a t-shirt and joggers, but whatever you do, make sure that you get dressed! It’s easy to slip into bad hygiene habits when you don’t have to physically go out into the real world; but brushing your teeth, showering and getting dressed into your new “work outfit” will make you feel refreshed and ready to take on the world...remotely of course.

Join a Community

According to research on Remote Working, two of the key challenges of remote working are loneliness and isolation. With social distancing and self isolation currently in practice, it’s even more important to utilise ways of interacting safely with others.

Although some people might relish remote working, others might find be missing a bustling office environment. Checking in with your colleagues via a phone call or even through a virtual coffee morning can help keep up morale and still permeate a sense of teamwork.

There are also plenty of forums across social media and other digital platforms designed to support remote workers. Whether you have a technological query or simply want to chat to like-minded folk in your industry, there are plenty of spaces where you can check in from the comfort of your home. You don’t need to feel alone or deserted.

Adapt to New Workmates

With social isolation firmly in place, you might now find yourself with new members of “staff”: young children or pets, or a flatmate or partner who is also working from home.

Just the other day I was asked to reschedule a video call with someone who was juggling homeschooling their young children, and when we did have the call, it was understandable to see the occasional cameos of the little ones.

It’s essential to communicate with the people you work with and explore options of how best you can support each other.

If you are sharing space with someone who is also working from home, devise a plan on how this will work and how you will distribute the responsibilities of homeschooling, domestic duties and work.

When it comes to having multiple people working remotely in the same household, consider:

  • Establishing separate workstations if it’s possible
  • Respecting boundaries. Don’t interrupt your “co-worker’s” office hours with domestic queries for example
  • Setting up joint tea breaks. This way you still have social interactions to break up the workday, only without interrupting your workflow.

Ultimately working from home with others calls for flexibility, patience and honesty. Everyone is having to adapt to a new way of working and it might take some time to settle into a routine.

Embrace the challenge

Maintaining positivity at this moment in time might feel like a fulltime job in itself, but working from home can provide an opportunity for you to grow. Remote working can (gently!) push you to upskill. You might find yourself learning new software, tools and technologies, discover automating processes to help lighten your workload or even simply sharpen your creative out-of-the-box thinking to establish an innovative way of working.

At first working from home might feel a little unsettling. However, as you begin to establish a routine and continue to reach out for support, you might just find that you actually enjoy it.

Meet the author

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Naomi Joseph

Naomi is a theatre-maker and writer. She writes honestly about the realities of freelance life and working in the arts. She is always open to collaborations and commissions.