In April of this year, 46.6% of people in employment started working from home. This staggering number of the UK workforce had to transport their offices into their homes, despite their living situations and family set up. We have seen everything from fully-fledged home offices complete with mini-fridge to an ironing board at half-mast in front of the sofa! The nation has been divided into those that love it and those that hate it (complete with 'WFH' gifs, memes and blunders to accompany!). On the one hand, you have a plethora of distractions, a dining table filled with files and a 30.3% likelihood you will work longer hours than usual. On the other hand, there's a better work/life balance, no rush hour or transport costs and... well... jogging bottoms.
Love it or hate it, it's here to stay and we are here to offer you our top tips for preserving your mental health, staying productive and enjoying your work from home life. As a company, we have advocated flexible working patterns and work from home options for a long time. We are well-practised in the tech required to bring a team together, the science behind keeping your body healthy and creating environments that nurture a positive mindset.
So whether you are a leader that would like to set your team up for success or if you're just looking for a few pointers, read on...
First and foremost, the majority of us can't work from home without the right tech! A reliable laptop or computer, a mobile phone and a strong internet connection is a must-have for work from home success. You need to stay connected to your team, access the files and information you need and be able to take calls or chime in on the relentless work Whatsapp group! Make sure your laptop has an in-built webcam or look to purchase a separate webcam to really feel part of all those video calls. Headphones can be handy if you're working in the same room as another member of your household. You also might like to prepare a playlist of songs that will help your concentration and keep you calm to manage stress levels. At Ouma, we have a playlist for every mood, day and season!
Preparing an organised and peaceful workspace is absolutely paramount to enjoying your day working from home. Our biggest tip is to try and work in an area of your home with natural light and fresh air. There are multiple links between the brain's concentration abilities and access to fresh air. Make sure your desk is clear and organised with everything you will need for the day ahead of you. Check that your chair is comfortable with plenty of support in the lumbar region of your back. Your laptop or computer screen should be at eye-level to prevent neck and upper back pain. Surround your desk area with things you like, such as photos of family and friends, inspirational cards and notes or houseplants. Finally, have a glass of water at your desk; hydration is key!
When you're not working physically with each other it's important that lines of communication stay open and honest and every member of the team is clear on what they need to do with their day and week. Two project management apps that are really useful for this kind of clarity are Asana and Trello, both fully available on both apple and android. Teams and Slack are also really useful communication and file-sharing platforms along with, and if you've not heard of this one yet you've been living under a rock, the one and only, Zoom. You can find out more about the apps we use at Ouma, here.
This is possibly our number one tip for preserving your mental health and wellbeing whilst working from your home. Separate a space in your house where you can take a break, eat some lunch, get some fresh air and maybe listen to the radio or a podcast (or in our case, play with the dogs!). Try and make it separate to the room you are working in or at least the other end of the room if your home is open plan. Removing yourself from your working environment at regular intervals is not only good for your eyes but also good for your mind to take a time-out in a physically different area.
In a normal office or work environment, you would naturally move around between desks and filing cabinets, photocopiers and water coolers (if you go to work in a nineties sitcom). It's important when you're sat at home that you stretch and move your body so as not to spend a solid eight hours sitting stationary at your desk. Remember to gently stretch your neck and shoulders at regular intervals and, when you can, stand up and move around the room to get the blood flowing to your brain!
This is the number one issue with working at home for a lot of people! The washing machine is leaking, the kids need snacks, the dog needs to go out for a pee and the doorbell keeps going. Depending on the layout of your house it can be hard to ignore the normalities of your daily home life. Our top tip for avoiding distractions? You can't. So be kind to yourself and do the best you can to organise your day and your family around the work you need to get done. Create yourself a support network of family, friends, paid professionals and neighbours that may be able to help accept parcels, walk the dog or take the children to the park. Maintain good communication with the rest of your team and work together.
So remember, stay hydrated, prior preparation of your workspace is key and keep your body moving! Stay connected with your team, keep communicating and surround yourself with your support network to help navigate distractions. Finally, at the end of your working day, when the laptop has shut down, the mobile is on silent and the coffee machine is empty; come away from your workspace and enjoy some healthy, quality time with friends and family or indulge in a bit of Netflix!