Top tips for working from home
Working from home has shifted for many from an occasional privilege to an ongoing reality. While many have successfully employed technology to enable this, the emotional side can be overlooked. Andrea Barletta, Director of Global Marketing & Annual Trend Research at Kynetec, a leading market research firm for animal health and agriculture, shares tips for effective home working.
Once deemed a welcome break from the daily grind, working from home (WFH) has become the norm for most people for an uncertain period of time. Initially many may have found themselves spending the first days and weeks fine-tuning their tech set-up and home background for online meetings, but as the days and weeks go by, a lack of clarity over the expected duration of social distancing can mean WFH can be lonely and challenging at times. In fact, three-quarters of Andrea’s 12 Tips for WFH touch on the mental side of things.
- Define start and stop time: earlier and later working is not sustainable, so turning off your computer and putting it out of sight is advisable.
- Look good to feel smart: get dressed as if you were going into the office
- Healthy nutrition: healthy snacks, staying hydrating and stopping for lunch are important. Without colleagues around you to help set the pace for a daily rhythm, maintaining a routine can be tricky.
- Take breaks: regular, short breaks can help with productivity, and Kynetec recommends the Pomodoro Technique (see box).
- Dedicate a workspace: set aside a defined space to do your work and virtual meetings in, and ensure you have requisite stationery, good lighting, a comfortable chair and a headset for calls.
- Have a work schedule: working from home can blur the boundaries between work and personal life, so sticking to a schedule to manage workload is important. For this to work well, Andrea recommends planning your day, focusing on your Most Important Tasks, avoiding distractions by turning off notifications for calls and emails, taking breaks and reviewing your days for efficiency checks.
- Staying positive: not every day will go to plan, and being able to speak to people can help, but it is what is often missing when WFH. Call a colleague to talk it through.
- Eliminate distractions: keep the TV off, put the laundry on at breaktime and make personal calls after work.
- Appreciate the benefits: WFH means no commute time, and no travel costs, whether train fare, petrol/car maintenance. Remember to appreciate these time and cost benefits.
- Make it personal: work out what works for you – when are you most productive? This is an opportunity to make your schedule suit your own rhythm.
- Don’t get isolated: stay in touch with the team by using video calls and update your status on Teams.
- Healthy mind and body: exercise regularly as WFH can mean walking a lot less each day.
Take regular breaks: Pomodoro Technique
WFH can entail the temptation to be glued to your desk for fear of missing a call or email, as you assume it could be (mis)construed as a lack of dedication. However rather than convey engagement, replying too quickly to emails can in fact lead to ill-thought-out responses.
The Pomodoro Technique suggests six steps to achieve an effective work:break rhythm:
Step 1: Decide on the task to be done
Step 2: Set a timer to 25 minutes
Step 3: Work on the task
Step 4: Pause when the timer rings and take a short break (3-5 minutes) and then return to step 2.
Step 5: After four sessions, take a longer break of 15-30 minutes.
Step 6: Go to step 1.