In the space of just a few short weeks, the COVID-19 lockdown has changed the lives of millions of people. Restaurants, bars, schools, community centers, and offices have all closed in an attempt to slow down the spread of the virus, leaving many people working outside of their comfort zone. Working from home may seem like an ideal situation for some, but for others, it can feel like a recipe for productivity disaster. Whichever side of the fence you sit on, what matters most is making the most of the situation we find ourselves in. So here’s how to make the most out of working from home during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Accept that things will be different
The first stage to getting the most out of lockdown is to accept that things will be different – meetings will get interrupted by children, dogs will bark during conference calls and cats will always find a way to sit on your keyboard. Video conferencing technology will remain notoriously unreliable and you will get distracted by those around you, but all of that is ok. Everyone is in the same boat right now and we are doing our best to adjust to what is a less than ideal way of working. Take a deep breath, accept that things will be different, and start to enjoy the quirks of this new way of living. For internal meetings why not invite your pets onto your video calls for a pet show and tell, instead of shutting your children out of your life, show your children what it looks like for you to be working and enjoy the simple pleasure of being able to work in your slippers.
Try to maintain routine
For most of us, productivity and routine come hand in hand, so if you want to ensure that you are getting the most out of your days while working from home during the lockdown, then try to create yourself a new daily routine. Although sleeping in until 8.59 will be novel at first, you’ll find yourself a lot more productive if you stick to something a little more similar to your usual routine. Get up, get dressed, make breakfast, maybe even workout – you’ll find that you have a lot more time in the mornings without your daily commute, so make it count.
The importance of a daily routine doesn’t end with sitting down to start work, set yourself regular break intervals throughout the day, and try to stop work at the same time each day too. It can be easy to overwork yourself while working at home as it is much harder to separate your work and home space and you may find yourself skipping breaks and working longer hours simply because you no longer know how to switch off. When your workday ends, put down your phone, close the tabs on your laptop and be strict about not answering emails.
If you’ve found that your workload has dropped, or you simply want to make better use of the extra hours you now have in the day, then use this time to upskill yourself. Learn how to earn CEs online, enroll in an online course, download that audiobook you’ve not had the time to listen to, and commit to learning something new this lockdown. Whether you decide to upskill yourself in company time to benefit your employer or in your free time as a way to benefit yourself, now is the perfect time to learn something new or to brush up on some skills that have gotten dusty over the years. There’s no pressure to come out of lockdown fluent in another language or as a coding wizard, but it would be foolish not to make productive use of a little enforced downtime. Thanks to the internet there are thousands of ways to educate yourself online including sites such as SkillShare and of course, good old YouTube.
Make time for your family
The benefits of working from home are often also the main distractions. Your family may be a little disruptive at times, but being able to spend so much more quality time with them is a gift you may not be so willing to give back when the lockdown is over. Make the most of the time you have been given to spend with your family by being a little more flexible than usual. Take a mid-morning break for a cup of coffee and a quick game of tag in the garden and don’t lock yourself away in the back room unless you absolutely need to focus or to be in private. If you have a lot of leave stored up that you need to take, then you may even want to take some of it to give yourself some time off to spend with your family.
Prove to your employer that you can work from home so that you can do more of it when the lockdown is over
Although working from home is becoming more popular with forward-thinking businesses and is now often offered as an employee perk, there are still a lot of companies who prefer a more traditional way of working and who are reluctant to let go of the idea of their workforce working entirely from an office. If you’ve always wanted to have the chance to work from home a few days a week, or have found that you’ve actually really enjoyed spending a little more time with your family, then use this time to prove to your employer that you are able to be just as productive. Many employers have had to invest in new tools to enable their teams to work from home and if they are able to see that their employees are happy and able to get their jobs done remotely, then there is more chance of them offering work from home days when the lockdown is lifted. Sow the seeds now.
Enjoy a better work-life balance
Finally, without a commute and with the opportunity to engage with your family throughout the day, make sure to enjoy your new work-life balance. A work-life balance is something that many of us struggle to achieve when commuting into and out of work, but now that work is literally available at our kitchen tables, you’ll be able to find the balance you’ve always been looking for. Even if you are lucky enough to have just a 30-minute commute each way to work, each day, by working from home you’ll have earned yourself back 5 hours of extra time throughout the week! If this figure doubles you’ll have an additional 10 hours a week, that’s more than a full working day! This time can now be put towards your own needs – why not run yourself a bath in the morning for the ultimate relaxing way to get ready? Or schedule in that workout you never used to have time for and get yourself in shape. Whatever you choose to do with your new free time make it count and enjoy your new work-life balance.
So there you have it – a few simple ways to make the most of working from home during the lockdown. Who knows, even those who hate the idea of working from home may have come around to the idea by the end of it. What are you doing to make the most of the extra time you have at home? Leave your thoughts below so that others can use your recommendations.