Whilst FIG sends out a huge thank you to those of you who are now back in the workplace (especially the key workers amongst you who never stopped going in – you are superheroes) there’s still an army of workers who will likely be working from home for the foreseeable future.
And whilst it may have seemed novel at first, after three months of living and working in the same place, for some, it can be pretty tough.
To try and combat this, we’ve pulled together our top tips to successfully work from home, and have compiled a list of resources that you may find useful to help organise your workload and streamline your working day to ensure you keep your focus, your productivity and your service levels.
We’ve all heard the saying ‘tidy room, tidy mind’ so first things first, make sure that wherever your work station is, be it the kitchen table, guestroom or your sofa, it’s clean and tidy.
Not only does an organised workspace save you time – we’ve all lost precious minutes searching for important documents – but it can also benefit your mental health, as cluttered rooms are more likely to raise the levels of cortisol in the brain, leaving you stressed out, anxious and much less productive.
A 2017 study on the effects of clutter in the home found those who felt overwhelmed by the amount of ‘stuff’ in their home were much more likely to procrastinate¹ so it’s important to assign a designated workspace if you can and put in the time and effort to keep it spotless.
If you can, implement a paperless system. Not only is this more environmentally friendly, it removes a lot of ‘clutter’ – files, paper wallets, folders – all which can be safely stored online and more importantly, out of your way.
Using colour to organise your workload can be an effective way to prioritise your workload too. A simple traffic light system of a red, yellow and green tray in which you put the most urgent tasks in the red tray etc, will help you to see what needs your attention and when.
As much as you can – and we know this isn’t always possible with other demands such as childcare or homeschooling for example – set your ground rules.
If you need the first hour of your day clear to check all emails and make calls, try to implement that and insist that the rest of the house respects this period and doesn’t disrupt you.
If you’re sharing the house computer or other technologies, try establishing a schedule to clearly show who is booked to be using it at a specific time, making sure everyone can plan out their working day without any clashes.
And remember that it’s not just you that has to work from home, so be willing to show some flexibility to your colleagues and the people you live with when you can.
As well as having a schedule for computer usage, it helps to have a rough routine that you can work to in order to make your work life feel separate from your home life.
Putting a load of washing on in between responding to emails, or writing your shopping list whilst on an audio call is a sure-fire way to feel burnt out because everything blends into one uncompromising task.
Make clear distinctions between what constitutes work time and non-work activity, for instance – no television during working hours; taking lunch at a certain time; no scrolling through social media until your working hours are over etc – to keep you on track and away from distractions.
Using a daily planner to split your working and home life into sections can help you segregate your time up to keep you focussed and on track.
There is a huge pool of free resources online to help you to live a more organised life – so make these a part of your working-from-home toolkit and relieve some of the pressure off yourself.
Take advantage of free online meeting systems such as Zoom or WhatsApp to keep in touch with your colleagues and workmates (you can find out more about online tools here >) as having a video call feels much more collaborative than just a phone call.
Using your email’s calendar system to set reminders saves you from having to remember them off the top of your head, and using specially designed memo pads to take notes, record ideas and jot down important information is much more effective than scribbling them down on the back of a box of biscuits (because let’s face it, biscuits are a working-from-home essential if ever there was one).
FIG has designed three collections of free-to-download weekly planners, message pads and memo pads which you can print out at home to help you get more organised and record all your important information in one place. Click here to see all three collections, along with our free guides to marketing activities such as social media, email marketing and content marketing.
It may sound counter-intuitive to say this, but making sure you take regular breaks is so important.
Whilst working with your colleagues – especially in a creative industry such as ours – and collaborating over projects can be a great way to inspire ideas and share knowledge, day-to-day office life is full of distractions.
From conversations about the latest episode of Doctor Foster (specifically Cheryl & Sarah in the FIG office), to making another trip to the biscuit tin (definitely Dave & Chris) or staring out of the window at every cute dog that walks past (Becky & Nikita – normally whilst squealing), there is an almost endless list of things that puts a stop to what you’re doing or interrupts your train of thought. With those disruptions less likely to happen, and with tips 1-4 all ticked off, there’s a much bigger chance of you becoming so immersed in the project you’re working on that you don’t take a proper break and end up just as burnt out as if you’d been up all night.
Staring at a computer screen for endless hours of the day isn’t healthy, so make sure you take the time to walk away from your screen from time to time. FIG’s staff were actively encouraged to leave their desks and go to chat with other members of the team rather than phoning or emailing them, for this very reason. Not only does it help to foster working relationships, it also makes you get up and move about – even if it does mean you have to walk past the biscuit tin again!