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Working from home 24/7 – the new world of working!

Publication date:

22 March 2020

Last updated:

30 March 2020

Author(s):

Chartered Insurance Institute

For many of us, the odd day working from home may have been seen as a luxury. That ability to notionally ‘catch up’ after a busy week on the road or working away.

Typically, you can get up without the rush to beat the traffic or get an early morning train; perhaps cook breakfast rather than dash into your local eatery of choice and more casually open up your laptop whilst wearing something more comfortable than your regular office get up.

But this is different; a state of working that has hastily been imposed upon us out of necessity that inevitably may mean that we are not prepared for it. Worse still, it’s likely to be semi-permanent – at least for the time being. So, what can we learn from others – perhaps the pathfinders that have done it more often or do it on a permanent basis?

Here’s a collection of thoughts that you may want to consider.

  1. Get yourself a new routine as quickly as possible

When you are working from the office, it’s likely that you had a daily routine. That early train, a trip to the gym before work, perhaps a run or cycle into work. But that’s now out of the window. Working remotely takes dedication, discipline and smart thinking to be effective. If you are not careful you can waste a lot of time.

In the way that you would have done when working from an office to which you travelled daily, quickly set yourself a new schedule in outline. Putting repeat appointments into outlook or your electronic calendar, with reminders, can subtly prompt you to work in the way that you have anticipated. This ‘model schedule’ is important as it’s so easy to keep tapping away at your keyboard and lose track of the time. Set yourself regular breaks, time for lunch and just as importantly when you want to finish. Make sure:

  • you take those breaks and recharge the batteries!
  • home working doesn’t upset whatever work life balance you have.

If you can’t crack the whole day, best you set yourself a routine to start your day – whatever that is. Take some definite, set actions to signify to yourself that the working day has started, as daft and simple as it sounds, have breakfast, get showered and dressed in the same order each day and put on your work clothes. Staying in your pyjamas all day just won’t get you in the right mindset!

  1. If you haven’t already got one, create a dedicated workspace

This is as much for others that share your home as it is for you. You and those around you need to know when you are at work. As difficult as it is with younger children and perhaps a spouse who is equally not used to having you around the house all day, they need to know when you are working and try to respect your new work environment. Take time to set up your laptop at the right height, try and get the light right and perhaps adjust the brightness of your screen. Use a headset for your phone or handsfree if you can – it’s just more comfortable when you are on the phone all day.

  1. Don’t just rely on the phone

If you are used to working in teams or having people around you, communicating entirely through email and over the phone is going to be difficult – both for you and those that you connect with regularly. If your role involves seeing clients, they may be accustomed to seeing you face to face.

Explore newer technologies to deliver a ‘new world’ face to face experience. We have asked Ian McKenna of F&TRC to produce his thoughts on this. This will follow shortly. On your phone, you could consider, Facetime, WhatsApp and Skype to name but a few. Your laptop will offer you a plethora of further choice too.

  1. Eat healthily and stay hydrated

It’s all too easy to get distracted – especially if your newfound office is in the kitchen! You pop to make a cup of tea of coffee and distraction is potentially all around you. Resist the temptation to open the fridge or biscuit tin! Try and eat the right food so you don’t feel lethargic later in the day.

Water is important – probably more important than many people realise. Make sure that you drink enough – regularly. Dehydration can be the real enemy of concentration. If water is not yet your drink of choice, force yourself to drink a couple of pints a day. You’ll not regret it!

  1. Take exercise and get some fresh air during the day

It’s all too easy to sit for too long in a seat that is not designed for a day at the office. Your posture gets more casual, you slouch in your chair and you get lethargic. Take time to get up and stretch; perhaps walk up and down the stairs a few times, do a few laps of your garden if you have one, walk on the spot or take the dog for a walk. Anything to get your heart pumping and to refresh your physical state.

If you feel more inclined, you’ll find lots of online sessions too – irrespective of how long you have. Exercises to do at your desk, a group Pilates session, perhaps yoga or CrossFit – whatever takes your fancy!

The key thing is to do something and if you can, get some fresh air.

  1. It’s good to talk!

Whatever you do, don’t be alone!

Take time to speak to colleagues or friends during the day so that you keep connected. Why not set up a social video conference for colleagues or friends to maintain those bonds? Many people will be struggling to adjust to the new world. If you know someone that has worked from home more regularly, why not pick up the phone to them and ask for their advice? You probably won’t be the first person to have the problem so reach out to friends and colleagues to find the answer.

  1. Wrap up and tidy up

Set yourself a time to finish – after all there’s always tomorrow. It’s all too easy just to keep working but there will come a time when you are ineffective. Everything takes 4 times as long so ‘why keep trying to push fog uphill?’. Come back to it.

Go through a process to finish up. Perhaps review your day, look forward to tomorrow and make sure that you are prepared. Make sure you have breaks scheduled. Perhaps check the weather and decide when to exercise. Stick in some ‘you time’ and make sure you have time for family and friends.