5 Tips and Tricks to Stay Sane When Working Virtually
Sometimes, when we tell people we are working from home, they can form the impression that it means a day off, or a chance to get the laundry done. For the most part, we can forgive them, but this assumption can induce a widely felt guilt by remote workers that others, colleagues or otherwise, don’t believe that you are working hard just because you are working from home.
And this shouldn’t be the case! So here are 5 tips that we recommend using to keep it together when working at home.
1) Don’t feel like you need to prove anything to anyone but you
It is easy to slip into the habit of justifying the work that you are doing if you have no co-workers around to see you doing it. Over-stressing to others what your start and end times are, on top of reiterating your to-do list of completed tasks, along with exclamations of “Where has the day gone?”
Working from home doesn’t mean you need to work longer to justify the lack of a commute. It is tempting to start work from the moment you should have left for work, but by doing this, you get yourself in the habit of working extra hours, trying to prove that you are, indeed, working hard.
If you and your boss (if you have one) know that you are delivering the results as expected, then that is enough; don’t tie yourself in knots over what others might be thinking about you, as the reality is, they most likely aren’t thinking about you at all.
Remind yourself about the interruptions that you suffer while working in the office, and welcome the quiet time of working at home, so you can plan and think undisturbed. All those “Could you just..?” moments add up!
The bottom line of this tip is to enjoy putting in the period of hard graft, but then be sure to enjoy the flexibility of spending time enjoying your home and your family. Remember when your finishing time is and don’t let yourself keep checking work emails long after, in a traditional office environment, you would have shut down and gone home.
2) Create a close-able work zone
Sometimes, particularly when we first start working from home, we don’t have a dedicated working space. However, the problem with this is when it becomes impossible to escape work during your downtime.
If you have the opportunity to create a dedicated office space at home, then great! If you can, shut the door on it. Otherwise, separating work and home life can become tricky and remote workers may find themselves thinking about work at all hours.
If your kitchen table is your office when you work from home, that is perfectly fine; we work with what we have. But consider having a cupboard or cabinet to shut your work away into. A pile of work-related paper lurking on the corner of your breakfast table will prompt thinking about work, even at 10am on a Sunday morning. Establish healthy boundaries and don’t let work take over your home space.
3) Set the expectation of others
Do any of these sound familiar, when you say you are working from home?
"Great, I’ll pop round for a coffee them!”
"Could you walk my dogs for me at lunchtime?”
“Do you have time for a catch-up phone call?”
“Have you done the vacuuming and tidied the kitchen then?"
"Could you just give me a lift to…?”
It can be entirely frustrating when people don’t understand that when you are working from home, you are still at work. Of course, having the ability to work from home provides us with the flexibility that we need in order to run our lives and achieve a better work/life balance, but we are still working.
If you are a regular homeworker, and suffer from these kinds of requests regularly, rather than just saying no and risking the negative response that will make you feel guilty, take the time to explain what it means to work from home. This can help friends and family to better understand how your day works and stop them from making unhelpful requests.
4) Get some fresh air
Staying in the house all day can make you feel a little stir-crazy sometimes. It is important to find opportunities to move around and ideally, get outside during the working day. There’s a few ways that you could do this;
- Have your morning coffee outside
- Go to a local coffee shop for a break or lunch
- Go for a walk to think or plan
- Commit to going for a walk or run during your lunch or at the end of the day
- Take a call outside
While simple, these steps are really important and you should feel pleased and positive when you are able to achieve them. Most of them are normal practice when working in an office, so indulge a little and make it happen.
5) Stay in touch
When you work remotely, you can get lonely sometimes. It is easy to feel detached from the rest of your team. Most interaction we have with colleagues when we are co-located happens informally, so we often miss out on this when working remotely.
Think about how you can keep some informal lines of communication with colleagues. This could take the form of a good morning message, or asking about their lunch or previous evening. It is through this social conversation that we form bonds and trust with one another.
We can stay in touch using many forms of technology that we already have; IM, Teams, WhatsApp, email, phone and video calls etc.
How about scheduling a virtual lunch or coffee break, where you jump on your webcams and chat as you eat your lunch?
We often have to make instances like this happen while remote working as they don’t occur as naturally as when you are co-located with colleagues. Reaching out and making it a habit can really make the difference in increasing the inclusivity for those working from home.
The opportunity to work remotely is received in a variety of ways; some love it and wouldn’t want to work any other way, others find it incredibly difficult. It is about making it work for you, putting in place healthy boundaries and achieving a positive mindset in order to embrace it and make it the best it can be.
Home working is becoming more commonplace and we believe it will only be moreso in the near future.