Part 1: Working with the Logistical Practicalities of Working from Home
As the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic generally ease and we tentatively move towards more stable times, working from home will remain an integral part of the new business model. No longer just a temporary lockdown measure, for many the home office will become their main or only office.
We all need new resources, techniques, and skills to manage home working while staying physically and mentally strong. The logistical, technological and psychological practicalities of working from home need to be managed to work for us rather than against us.
We all have a general idea of the things we should be doing to achieve this. But how many are we putting into practice? What can we do to build resilience and make a positive difference to our remote working lives?
This series of three articles is designed to help you get the best from your home working situation. I will be investigating the logistical, technological, and psychological practicalities of working from home. I am looking at simple, easy changes you can make. Changes that may be so obvious you haven’t actually got around to making them.
I am starting this week with logistical considerations. This is my guide to managing them to maintain your motivation, play to your strengths, and improve personal, team and organisational performance.
1. Set up a dedicated office space
Maybe you already had your own home office, or maybe you spent lockdown sharing the kitchen table with the kids. As working from home becomes a permanent solution, a dedicated space is key. You may need to requisition a corner of the living room, take over the spare bedroom or reconfigure your kitchen. However you do it, you do you need a defined workspace.
Keep your workspace clean, clutter-free and make sure everyone in the household respects it for what it represents.
2. Set household ground rules
Working from home does not make you automatically available to your family to do all the things they might expect on a day off. Make sure friends and family are aware of what they can reasonably expect from you when you are working. Make as few exceptions as possible.
3. Set reasonable, regular hours
It can be difficult for driven, motivated people to set limits on their own working hours, particularly when running their own business. Recognising that your work will never be fully done, set yourself reasonable hours and stick to them. There will always be one more email to write, one more call to make or one more piece of research to do.
Know when to stop and respect the working hours of colleagues, employees and clients too.
Working from home does not bring the expectation that workers will be available at any moment before, during, or after the normal workday. A good manager will have the emotional intelligence to work around other people’s commitments. However, if you find yourself at the mercy of a colleague with unreasonable expectations, raise it with someone who can help. Educate your clients and manage their expectations too. Micro-management, harassment and bullying should not be tolerated.
4. Follow pre- and post-work routines
If you don’t have younger children or pets requiring you to get up and follow a morning routine it can be easy to fall into bad habits. Waking up, rolling out of bed and arriving at your desk five minutes later is an easy option.
We can all be guilty of assuming little changes won’t make a big difference. Take the time to start your day well and make a clear distinction between the time before work and when work starts. This will enable you to mentally distinguish your home from your office. Have a shower, eat breakfast, meditate, or do some exercise. Without the benefit of a physical journey to work it is important to do whatever you need to mentally transition from home to work mode.
Likewise, when you finish your workday, finish it properly. Get changed, go for a walk, or simply shut the door to your study.
This doesn’t just have practical implications. I will look at the importance of bookmarking your workday in more detail in my guide for managing the psychological practicalities of working from home later.
5. Schedule in breaks and take them
As I have already mentioned, working from home does not make you contactable at every moment of the day. Your previous workday may have included time to pick up and eat lunch outside the office, go to the gym or even just spend half an hour chatting with colleagues.
It allowed you time to reset, to get some exercise, to get some fresh air and to socialise. Regular, scheduled breaks will make you more alert, more productive, and more effective. If you need to block out diary time for a walk or twenty minutes of yoga, do so. Try to get outside at least once during the day, even if it’s just ten minutes in the garden with a coffee.
How are you finding the logistical practicalities of working from home instead of going into an office? Have you made any of these changes?
Habits are not made or broken quickly, they take time. If you try to change everything in one go it can be overwhelming. Start by committing to changing just one element of your remote working set up and go from there. It’s easier to set small and simple expectations and it could make all the difference.
Next time I will be looking at working with the technological practicalities of working from home and sharing my guide to managing them to work for us.
At Feel Good Leadership, we work with high performing executive leaders, managers and teams to become more authentic, inclusive and nurture better relationships enabling collaborative and thriving workplaces.
About the Author
Jenny Rossiter is an International Executive Coach and Facilitator with a passion for weaving together the real human experience with practical science-based techniques to build authentic & inclusive leadership, emotional resilience and mental strength. Jenny has spent a lifetime studying human behaviour and more recently leading-edge neuroscience. She takes her clients through a journey of accompanied exploration in order to discover who they are and who they might become, as leaders, as teams and as human beings.
Please contact Jenny at firstname.lastname@example.org