In the pre-Covid world, many of us were pretty good at managing our diaries and prioritising where we spend our time. However, in case you have been living in a cave on a remote island for the last twelve months, you will know that the world has changed dramatically.
Many of us are now regularly doing something that pre-Covid may have been met with cynicism and been seen as a bit of a ‘jolly’.
‘Oh he/she is working from home today…smile, nod, knowing exaggerated expression and maybe a wink’
Now for many of us, working from home (WFH) has become the norm and a regular feature of our business life.
There are of course many advantages such as:
- Having a bit of a lay in each day (no travelling – hoorah!)
- No rush to shower/shave or not bothering at all (please note the author does shave and shower every morning)
- Dressing as you please, loungewear with maybe a work shirt hung up for the occasional call with the boss. Don’t want to appear too informal!
- Partial dressing, smart in front of the screen but who knows what is going on waist down
- Not dressing at all (it happens)
- Less ironing!
- More time with the family (note this one also goes down on the negatives of WFH)
- Fewer interruption’s (but not always!)
And what about the downsides:
- More time with family (let’s be honest sometimes less is more)
- Yes, it’s far too easy to pick up that little snack when you pop to the kitchen for that eleventh tea/coffee of the day
- Less exercise, without that walk to the train station/crossing London Bridge each morning and evening the old steps can drop off which, if we're not careful can be a direct correlation with the old pounds piling on.
- Always accessible to the boss or your colleagues. Yep, they know exactly where you are, no more, Alan’s out on a prospective client meeting or I think he just popped up to HR.
- Lack of social interaction. We are apes, yes alright as Desmond Morris labelled us ‘Naked Apes’ but we are highly social animals (mostly – some exceptions – I won’t mention their professions, but you know who you are) and we like to talk with and be in the company of other naked apes. How many of us miss a good old firm handshake, that’s how we used to measure a person. A firm, definitely not the wet fish hand, with several up and down movements and then release, no uncomfortable ‘hanging on.’ Now we measure a person by the area of their home behind them in the zoom screen. Come on, we all love having a nose around them on screen to see the pictures on the wall. Books on the bookshelf (or more embarrassing objects as one BBC person recently revealed)
So, what have my learnings from working at home been over the past year and what tips do I offer to my fellow WFH types?
My recommendations would be as follows:
- Have a routine – get up the same time each morning, early enough to get showered etc and prepare for the day.
- Build in time slots for some exercise, riding your bike, walking, whatever, anything to get those steps up. (one day early lockdown I recorded just 780 steps in the working day, that was a wakeup call)
- Have an eating routine, eat healthily and stay hydrated and not just with tea/coffee, drink water.
- Mark out time to spend with other loved ones at home (if you have loved ones at home consider yourself lucky)
- Give yourself some time in between Zoom/Team calls. Important time to take a breather and consider actions from the meeting and give some thought to your next call.
- Don’t feel guilty when you play with the children or sit with your spouse for ten minutes – you have earned the right.
- Have a finish time each day – and make it a reasonable time.
- Take time to have a chat and a laugh with someone each day
- Give a colleague/friend who lives alone a call – it can be very hard for them.
- Use a daily planner, this gives focus, structure and objectives for your day, takes two minutes to complete and will make you far more productive Example of a good one available on request.
Managing Director and Business Mentor
UK Business Mentoring Group
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