You’re now working from home. You’ve lugged your files and computer screen home. Set up a desk and sharpened your pencil. Now what?

For our health and wellbeing, the current COVID-19 situation sees many of us working from home. But for some, setting up a home office is a new concept.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, almost a third of all employed persons regularly work from home in their main job or business.

Loneliness and time management have been cited as the main challenges.

We’ve pulled together a few tips and things to consider when you start working from home.

1. Communication

First step is to get your technology in order. Speak with your employer and ensure there are no confidentiality and security breaches with your home set-up. Make sure your home internet is going to cope. Check with your provider, many have special packages on offer at the moment to cater for the increased workload.

Ramp up your communication efforts. It’s important for both employers and employees to reach out and communicate on a regular basis.

Stay connected. Working from home can quickly lead to a sense of isolation if you are not used to it.

Whilst email is quick and easy, embrace other methods of communication too. Embrace the webcam, even if this means you can’t sit there in your pj’s as tempting as it might be.

Screen sharing is also an option – especially when you are holding brainstorming sessions –just order a pizza at exactly the same time!

Just make sure you pick up the telephone every now and again too!

2. Getting work done

If you’re used to a daily routine that is influenced by other people, you may need to set up your own schedule (with breaks) and structure your time wisely. Working from home is often a double-edged sword, you get to stay home, but it can be difficult to focus on actually working and procrastination is common. If suddenly that pile of ironing looks more appealing than your work to-do list you may need to alter your approach to getting work done.

You also have to be careful that you don’t work too much. When you’re home and don’t have to travel it’s  very easy to just knock over one or two more tasks, and before you know it another hour or two have gone by and you’ve missed that important family time.

3. Staying motivated

Know yourself. You would have a fair idea of when you will go off track. If you are lacking motivation, move away from your work area, take a short walk and come back refreshed. Re-visit your to do list and prioritise.

Have a dedicated area in your home to call “work”. Ideally this is a room where you can shut out distractions and close the door at the end of the work day. This way you are “not taking your work home with you”.

4. Looking after yourself

You may not get exercise from climbing office stairs or walking the hallways like you are used to. And, you probably don’t have luxury of choice from a sushi or healthy salad bar for lunch. But, you can still stay active and eat well for your wellbeing and the sake of your productivity.

Exercise. Guess what? You now have privacy to stand at your desk if you like and do a few squats, calf raises or even venture to planks or crunches. Set a timer and get moving every couple of hours. Count the number of reps you can do – and beat your record the following day!

Can’t go to the gym? Did you know house cleaning with vigour can burn lots of calories too! Just turn up the music and off you go.

Be sure to bring some sunlight into your home. Open up your shades, blinds or curtains when the sun is shining. Let in the fresh air too – open those windows. And when you can, go outside and get some Vitamin D.

Take at least half an hour for lunch – take the washing of the line, organise what you’re having for dinner, go for a walk around the block to clear your head – and eat some lunch!

Another priority is to ensure your work area meets health and safety requirements. Your employer may have a self-assessment checklist requiring you to ensure:

  • you have enough lighting for the tasks being performed
  • an ergonomic set up
  • electrical safety
  • working smoke alarms
  • passageways and doors leading to exists clear of obstructions
  • first aid kids available

It is prudent for employers to ask employees to complete a declaration stating they are comfortable that the home working location is a safe place to undertake working from home duties.  An employer may even conduct an audit prior to commencement.

5. Using your extra time

Remember if you are not commuting to and from work, you do have extra time in your day. Use it wisely – contact a work mate and catch up, phone a friend, check in on a neighbour or elderly relative. Try and talk about something other than COVID-19. There’s still plenty of good news to spread.

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