The 1950s model of working the straight nine to five day from an office somewhere is slowly fading away. There have been times where he have unexpectedly needed to work from home and most workplaces have become flexible in creating policies that support remote working. Employees are equipped with the computers and the communications gear that they need to work remotely while employers are rethinking their office spaces to include hot desking and video conferencing options.
Remote working isn’t the future of how employees work, it’s already here.
For an employee, there’s many benefits of working from home. For a start, the commute time, which can be lengthy for some people, is cut down to zero adding a couple more hours to their day. There’s no more office distractions and of course, they can wear their cosy clothes and slippers. But working from home doesn’t come without its challenges, though. Employees who work from home tend to find it difficult to separate their work life from their home life which can go one of two ways. They might not know when to switch off from work which causes them to work all the time putting them at risk of burnout. Then on the other side, there’s a chance that they will never fully hit their stride in work mode and not achieve as much as they could.
There may be challenges, but that doesn’t mean those challenges can’t be overcome.
How working from can work for employees
Even though you’re working from home it’s important to have a regular start and finish time. Not only will this provide your day with a structure (which you need) but will make it easier for you to collaborate with co-workers and establish boundaries with them around your availability. Nobody wants to do a conference call at 7PM because you didn’t start your workday until lunchtime.
Structure your day like a regular workday and block out large periods of time in which to work. It’s okay to put on a load of washing here and there, maybe even unpack the dishwasher but the longer you’re away from your desk, the longer it is that you’re out of ‘work mode’ and the longer it will take to get back into it.
If you can, try and have a designated workspace. Working from the kitchen table, your living room or bedroom can make it extremely difficult to separate your work life from your home life. You see, when you’re in your home environment, subconsciously your mind transitions into ‘relax’ mode, which is not where you want to be when you need to be working. Also, unless you live alone there’s a high chance that you’re sharing those common spaces with somebody else and there can be nothing more distracting than trying to work while somebody else is trying to watch television.
If you have a designated workspace set up, then close the door. There can be so many distractions from children running around the house, partners chatting on the phone, to even just listening to a washing machine running somewhere in the background. Closing the door sends a message to your family and yourself that you’re in work mode and you need to be left alone.
Do your best to minimise distractions. If you’re working from home, you’re most likely working on a computer. A computer is full of distractions. Everything from YouTube to Facebook to news highlights popping up as alerts in the corner of your screen can distract you. Turn all those off and close any tabs that are not work related. You don’t want to get lost in a YouTube hole when you should be working.
So now that you’re set up, what are you doing? If you want to be productive and feel as if you’ve achieved something by the end of the day, make yourself a list of goals. This will give you something to work toward and keep you on track throughout the day. The important thing about setting goals is to remember to make sure your goals are achievable within the time that you’ve set for them. If not, then setting those goals can have a negative effect on your productivity.
Make sure you take breaks just like you would normally at work. Have a morning tea, a proper lunch break and an afternoon break. Not only will this keep your energy levels up, that is if you’re making healthy choices with your snacks and lunches, but it will force you to move. People who work from home tend to stay seated at their desks for longer periods of time, therefore their bodies are not moving as much as they typically would. Even try and get out and go for a walk.
Working from home can be tricky to get used to at first but it’s not impossible. Just follow some of the tips above and you’ll be just fine.
If you find that you’ve been working from home for too long and you think it’s starting to affect your mental health talk to a professional counsellor on 1300 096 269.
Or register for online counselling.
It’s free to people in north, western and central Melbourne and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Want to know where else you can get help? Find out how to access additional community support.
The CAREinMIND blog is delivered by On the Line. The views in each post do not necessarily reflect those of North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network.