laptop and phone

Effective home working

Working from home brings contrasting opinions. Some wouldn’t swap the benefit of the extra hour in the morning they’d previously spent on a commuter train with the sense of camaraderie that comes with office life. Others have relished the ability to bake a banana bread during a quiet afternoon or to really get on top of their washing.

I’ve found the reality somewhere in between: the lack of commuting does allow more time spent on other things, whether work-related or otherwise, but the lack of social interaction with colleagues can detract from the overall working experience. The lack of separation between home life and office life has been perhaps the most difficult issue to overcome, making switching off from work more difficult.

The following five tips have helped me get to grips with home working over the last year.

1. Movement

I live with a couple of friends in London and we have made an effort to go for walks whenever possible (as often as legally permitted!). Taking a break from the house and the laptop and seeing people around and about has helped with the separation of work and home life. Also, many of us will be sitting on makeshift office chairs and our backs will not thank us for hours sat still!

2. Change your surroundings

One way to freshen up the home working set up is to frequently change your working or studying location. Whilst the majority of us do not have our own offices, it is still possible to be creative. I am currently sitting in the kitchen, which has benefits of easy coffee access, whereas previously I had been sitting in the living room, which was slightly more comfortable (but not great when the housemate wants to watch Pointless!).

3. Give your colleagues or friends a call

I think this applies better in the context of working, but I have found that picking up the phone to colleagues for a chat or organising a virtual coffee has been a good substitute for poking your head around their office door at work. It helps to share experiences at work and to air any concerns, or to simply have a chat.

4. Exercise

Running has been a great way to get out the house and it seems to improve work productivity. I’m not a scientist but I imagine the endorphins help! It’s quite hard to pin down exactly how and why exercise is such a great way of reducing stress, but from my experience, it does have a significant positive effect. Even exercising a couple of times a week has been beneficial.

5. When you finish, disconnect

It is tempting for us all to stay connected at all hours or to complete that extra hour of work/revision. One way to switch from work mode into relaxation mode is to totally disconnect; this could mean putting away the workstation, tidying away books, or getting changed into something more comfortable. This has really helped me break down the amalgamation of work and home life.