Working From Home Top Tips: How to Add Structure to Your Day During Coronavirus and Beyond

mother and child sat in front of a laptop in a living room

This week will be the first full week working from home for many office-based workers faced with changes to their work patterns for the foreseeable future. I know remote working is like marmite for some. You might love it or hate it but be not afraid!

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The entire Cloudbooking team moved to a 100% remote working model in 2013 to reduce commute times and improve work/life balance. It has also led many of the team to pursue their dreams. Jane, our fearless marketing and comms manager, decided to up sticks from the east coast to go traveling through Europe before eventually settling back in Scotland in their home on wheels – a VW van.

However, working from home in this situation is unprecedented. While we at Cloudbooking are productive every day working from home, thanks to seven years of practice, people that are new to working from home may have a dim view, due to the sudden impact of the coronavirus on their day-to-day lives. So, for those of you in this situation and disheartened by the idea of working from home, remember that your current experience is not a true reflection of what working from home can be like.

It can be beneficial, helpful, supportive and yes, even productive, for all workers. So, during this challenging time, the team have shared our top tips for working from home that we have adopted over the years of remote working, to help you stay productive from home.

Working from home tips from the Cloudbooking

Sarie Copplestone, client services director: “Make sure you take some time away from your desk. Don’t be afraid to be ‘offline’ or not at your desk the moment someone calls you.”

Jane Holmes, marketing and comms manager: “I live by a productivity planner, yes I love a list! It keeps me on track with my work. So does a little desk yoga – yes there is even an app for that!

“And there is nothing like some fresh air to clear the mind, so I take regular short breaks with my dog Goose to clear my head and get some steps in”

James Kelly, marketing and commercial director: “Sit near a window if possible and open it when it’s nice out. Natural daylight and fresh air is a benefit you often don’t have in an office. Don’t sit in the kitchen if possible; the fridge is too tempting.”

Zain Shaikh, project manager: “Have a designated working space; one which you can say “this is where I work”. Learn to associate this place with doing work; away from distractions. Lack of social interactions also means the need to switch on your camera. Introduce your kids and pets to your Team. You’ll be surprised what seeing someone else can do to your mood.”

Julie-Anne Reilly, business development consultant: “Lists are great, it’s very satisfying to cross things off as you complete them, even if you added more to it! Regular contact with colleagues by phone, teams, video calls, messages is also important.​”

Rachael Forrester, knowledge manager: “Set out the day with a list of tasks that’ll you’ll tackle that day. Things can and will change throughout the day, but a list helps to give focus. Also make sure you take five minutes every so often to get up and move – make a brew etc. It’s too easy to get stuck in and not move all day!”

Amy Wade, executive assistant: “Have a routine like you’re at the office – get up, shower, get dressed and have a coffee as if you’re leaving home. I make sure I eat my lunch away from my laptop, to ensure it’s a clear 20-minute break away from the screen.

“It’s important to do something for yourself each day if you can. When you switch from commuting to WFH, you lose that commute time to reply to personal messages you’ve seen throughout the day, read a book, listen to a podcast. So whether it’s taking five minutes out to reply to personal messages or using your lunch break to watch a 30-minute episode of something, you’ll ensure you’re not work focused for a small period of time, which definitely helps.”

Peter Arnold, developer: “I’m not a fan of working in silence in my office, as soon as the music plays, I’m centred and on a mission.”

Debbie Graham, support manager: “Set an hourly reminder to get up and move about (smart watches work really well for this – every hour there is a nudge). Book yourself time in your calendar to get things done and use categories or flags on emails to tick things off throughout the day. And after work, if you are in all day, try and get out in the garden. I love taking advantage of no commuting to potter the garden for half an hour, before starting evening meals.”

Lee Raybone, developer: “Flexible hours work well, if you can. if I know something will be easier to do once my kids are in bed, when it’s peaceful, I’ll save it until then. Plan your day around that, have milestone tasks, and take plenty of screen breaks – there’s nothing worse than just seeing fuzzy code or going down an online rabbit hole.”

Everyone has different ways of working, different demands on their role and different passions, but our key tips for working from home are:

  • Have a routine – that includes getting dressed, having breakfast and a coffee – just like you did when you travelled to work
  • Have set working hours and set working space, separate to your relaxing or family space and time
  • Sit near a window, enjoy the sunshine and fresh air (if the weather allows)
  • Plan out your day, including screen breaks
  • Set milestone tasks – a sense of accomplishment is essential for mental well-being
  • Use communication, planning and calendar tools, such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, Jira, Outlook or G-Suite to build structure into your day
  • Use your camera for calls and introduce your team and clients to your pets and family. Also, make time to chat about your day, we’re all human
  • Have music or the radio on in the background
  • Make time to move – leave your desk and go for a walk
  • Eat lunch away from your workspace
  • Most importantly – make time for what you love, be it quantum mechanics or gardening. Physical and mental well-being must come first
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