4 Essential Tips for Working from Home (Again…)

It’s in our posts, our conversations, our deep down hopes… the illusion that when the clock struck 12:01 after the hallmark upheaval of 2020,  that somehow everything would suddenly be different, better. But alas, it’s back to work in the New Year and not much has changed for many of us. Including our surroundings. If, like most, you are staring at the same four walls for the foreseeable future, here are some essential tips for working from home to help you survive (and thrive):

Get dressed

Yes, it’s a big ask after the Christmas break (and all the pies…) but setting routines is more important than ever when working from home.

Think about all the acts that defined your day when you were physically going to the office: getting dressed, commuting, eating lunch, filling your water bottle (or coffee cup). These can easily get lost when the lines between work and home are more blurred.  

Set a routine, that includes breaks, food, transitions into and out of work, and yes, getting dressed, to better define your work day. If you need to, set alarms and reminders to help you stick to it. You may even find that putting on something other than sweats sets the tone for a more productive day as well!

Have a designated workspace  

Even if your bedroom is doubling as your office, a defined and properly set up work space is non-negotiable.

You’re not in university any longer, working from a laptop on your bed, or couch, is the first step to failure in the new world of work.  

Here are 3 quick tips (and the most common issues we see at Capella) to get your home office up set up correctly:

  1. Find a space large enough for a desk and chair. Even if you can’t sacrifice an entire room for your home office, find and designate a space large enough for a desk or table (your work area should comfortably fit your screen(s), keyboard, mouse, and one A4/8.5 x 11 notebook) and a real chair.
  2. Invest in an adjustable, supportive chair. Ideally your knees and elbows should be at 90 degree angles with feet flat on the floor while working. Kitchen chairs, stools, and couches don’t provide the support or customization you need to work safely or effectively from home.
  3. You need a laptop stand.  It is the most common issue we see at Capella – employees working from a laptop only. This means that you are looking down at your screen all day which inevitably leads to back and neck strain. A laptop-stand and separate keyboard and mouse are quick, and crucial, fixes.

If you’re not sure where to start or how to work with the space you have, reach out to the team at Capella, we can help! https://capella.ie/contact/

Set boundaries

Similar to setting routines, establishing boundaries when you’re working from home is critical to your endurance. You may think you are doing ok since you (mostly) stopped answering emails after hours and on weekends but reflect back on your life before 2020: what limits have been disregarded now that life has changed? For instance, if you typically started work at 8:30, have you made 7:30 the new norm simply because you no longer have a commute?

Another common boundary that has been challenged this past year is carving out time, away from email, away from meetings to actually think! Without facetime in the office, many employees feel increased anxiety to respond immediately to any communication for fear they may otherwise be seen as not working. Long term, this antiquated mentality will need to change on a cultural level for your company but in the meantime, if you need to block time on your calendar, and even communicate it to your team and manager that you will be offline during those hours, do whatever you need to give yourself time to think, create, and recharge intellectually during the work day.

What other boundaries have gotten muddled for you that need a fresh start?

Check in with yourself

Mental health is a bigger buzzword than it has ever been before, and with good reason. The sudden and drastic changes to our day to day lives has resulted in new or worsening mental conditions for most people. You may be thinking “sure, I’m stressed, but it’s not that extreme,” but there is danger in ignoring, or minimizing, the changes in your wellbeing.

A simple practice you can incorporate into your daily routine is to check in with yourself: What is the predominate emotion I feel today? Is that new or worse than yesterday or last week? What is keeping me awake at night? Who can I ask for help?

If you find that your mental health is on a downward trajectory you need to speak up and seek support. Even when hopefully hybrid-working and a return to the office are more likely, it’s important to stay tuned-in to your mental state and prioritize your health and resiliency.

It may be a New Year that doesn’t feel very “new” or different yet, but even if you are working from home, yet again, the above tips can help you take a fresh approach to a well worn path. Like so many resolutions set this time of year, creating healthy WFH habits should be one of them!