Make the most of Working From Home

With the Government recommending people work from home where possible, and many companies segregating teams for business continuity, there is benefit to considering ways to make the most of working from home.

One of the most surprising findings in research on productivity and people working at their best, is the need for chit chat.  The light-hearted chats around the coffee machine and in the corridor are hugely valuable to our sense of wellbeing, which contributes to our job performance.

We might imagine that this small talk is a distraction from our work and is one thing that attacks our productivity, and certainly if we spend hours discussing our latest Netflix binge-watch, we won’t get much work done!

But how can the feeling that we have had a chance to connect as human beings benefit us?  Perhaps we feel more valued, not just as an employee but as a person.  Perhaps we give our brains a moment to switch off, which has been shown in many different ways to benefit the quality of our focused thinking.  So how can we put this to use?

It would be hard on a conference call with 20 people to spend much time on “how are you finding it at home?  Are you self-isolating?  Are the restaurants still open?”  But we could make time for this 1:1.  What if we were a little less task-focused for the first five minutes of each call?  And for those of us who are people managers, what if we invested time in checking in with our people.

You may not have a solution to the issues around boredom, a feeling of going stir-crazy stuck in the house, or losing it with the whole family being cramped in together.  What you can do is listen, share your stories too of what’s going on, and be a support just by being there. Not surprisingly, a second tip is around organising your time.  It’s worth being honest with yourself about the fact that it can be useful to sort your washing, get that DIY finished and finally look at what’s wrong with the boiler.

And if you have children at home, you have a whole other level of complication.  So what conversations would be useful with your family and your manager?  Would it be helpful to consider doing more work after the children have gone to bed?  Can you agree times with the children (depending on their ages!) where there is quiet time for conference calls?  And then have time that is all about them and play?

Rather than struggling through and getting frustrated, taking the time to consider all you want to do in a day, challenge yourself on what is realistic and discuss this with your family, can make all the difference.

Finally, take a moment to take it all in.  These are unprecedented times.  We are living through something unique.  When was the last time the whole world experienced something at the same time?

Yes there is panic and uncertainty, but there is also the knowledge that this too will pass.  This may open up the opportunity to have conversations with loved ones that have been put off or never even considered.  Particularly if you have loved ones in a high risk category, think about how you can support them and what conversations may be helpful for everyone involved.

What does that have to do with working from home?  It has everything to do with the fact that we are human beings first and employees second, and our anxieties and concerns about our personal lives will leak into anything to do with work.  Give yourself time to acknowledge this and be kind – to you, your colleagues and your family.