Working from home needs boundaries, but has its upside

Working from home needs boundaries, but has its upside

With Covid-19 containment underway, many places of work are encouraging their staff to work from home if they can. The Uniting Church in NSW and ACT have taken this step with its staff while the pandemic unfolds to mitigate the risk of infection.

What follows are some tips about working from home that might help anyone who is in this situation

Cutting out the commute has a lot of benefits. It can be a great way to ensure that we remain healthy during a pandemic and gives us more time with our families and home. Insights has this as part of our regular work practices, however it should be noted that not everyone enjoys working from home or finds it particularly productive. To get the most out of work from home time, there are a few practices that can help.

Maintain a dedicated workspace

While working from home is a dream for many, the downside is there: if you’re not careful, it can feel like you’re waking up and already at work! For this reason, people who work regularly from home such as freelancers often maintain a separate office space. Ensuring that this space is tidy and ergonomic is a discipline that will ensure that you’re productive and don’t bear the brunt of time spent at work. It can also be helpful to get dressed to start the day, even if you don’t have a Zoom meeting to be part of. It helps set the boundaries between work and home.

Leave the house for a little while

Cabin fever can set in, and to repeat the above: making your home your workspace can mean encroaching on either. On top of that, sitting for long periods of time can be unhealthy. Here, it is worth stepping out. Take the dog for a walk. Go get a coffee. Get some exercise.  Use the actual breaks you have at work to get out of the house, maybe grab a coffee and some lunch at the corner shops. It’s important to maintain the structure of your work day, even when you are at home.

Think of the time you have saved… and do something with it

Commuting to an office is an unavoidable activity and is often part of what is known as ‘dead time’.  Working from home saves you time (Insights calculated this at around two hours a day for most). Work out how long you have saved by not needing to get on the bus or train and reward yourself. See that movie you want to see. Read that book. Get a hairdressing appointment. Take the time at either end of the day for self care.

Remember other staff members who might live alone

Not everyone has a family. Some people enjoy the interactivity with other people at work. Make sure that you fire up Zoom or text someone you know who might be stuck at home working. It’s a great opportunity to connect.

This is not the opportunity to binge-watch that TV series

If you have been planning a marathon, work hours aren’t the time to do it. While there may be a temptation to do this, a good practice is to save that binge for the weekend or after hours. Maintaining proper boundaries and making sure actual work gets done is paramount.

Put the chores aside, for now

While you’re at home, this should be time dedicated primarily for work. In order to maintain this, it’s worth resisting the urge to get other things done during your work hours. Apart from being a pull on productivity, chores can quickly become overwhelming when combined with the day-to-day aspects of work.

Write a to-do list

Getting on top of your workload can be easier away from the noisy office, but contending with the silence has its own challenges. Ensuring that you don’t give in to the temptations to watch TV instead of working is easier if you have an idea of what you need to do. Writing a to-do list provides a sense of routine and structure.

Durham University’s Dr. Thuy-vy Nguyen studies the effects of solitude, including how this applies to workers. She recently told Time that people working alone lose the sense of structure that the office brings.

“Usually our time and the structure of our day are influenced by other people,” she says. “You’re going to experience your day as lacking the normal structures that you usually have. People might have a hard time dealing with it. So one of the things that we found in our trying to understand solitude, is that time spent alone is better if it’s structured.”

Shower and change clothes

While the idea of being able to work in your pajamas has its novelty, this wears off quickly. And its not a good look for that Zoom meeting…

For those of you working from home with children in the house, this might provide a unique set of challenges. Angela Cadena has prepared some advice on how to get through this time here.

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