COVID-19 has been a cross-industry game-changer, affecting working habits worldwide. Once the hallowed mainstay of the freelancer and self-employed, companies have been forced out of necessity to adapt to the home working environment. Classical HR types had long feared that encouraging work from home would trigger the productivity apocalypse, but thankfully the covid crisis has fairly comprehensively disproved this.
Here at Percipio we have long been advocates of the work-from-home principal, having successfully utilised a distributed workforce for the past 5 years or so, and we have compiled some areas to focus on to maximise wellbeing and productivity in the remote workplace.
Optimise your workspace
Effective working does benefit from a well defined workspace in the home that is as well thought out from an ergonomic perspective as any office. Invest in a good chair! Dining chairs may work for a limited time before posture issues set in. Simply put, they are great for a Sunday lunch, but insufficient for a 8 hour working day. Ideally your feet should be flat on the floor, ensuring there is room to stretch your legs outwards from where you are sitting. Fully adjustable office chairs can be found for reasonable prices if you search for refurbished office equipment locally.
If working from a dining table on a laptop, try raising it on a stand, or place it on top of a pile of suitably large books. By raising the height of the top of the screen to about eye-level, you can avoid issues with neck and back strain creeping in. If using a laptop, an external keyboard and mouse will also make for a much more comfortable workspace.
Let there be light
Ensuring that the lighting is optimal in your workspace can have a positive impact on your mood and productivity.
Ideally your workspace will have a good source of natural light nearby, ensuring that it doesn’t directly shine on your screen causing your eyes to squint or strain. Placing lighting behind your monitor or screen can help too. By raising the level of light the pupils can relax for longer periods as they do not have to keep adjusting between the bright screen and the darker surroundings. You can purchase LED strips quite cheap that will act as a simple form of bias-lighting.
Here at Percipio we plan ahead for the darker winter months and offer Seasonal Affective Disorder LED lamps for staff. These are about the size of a smallish tablet device, and replicate daytime light frequencies that help to boost your energy levels and mood. We find these to be a very useful when used for an hour or two during the shorter winter days in the northern hemisphere.
Take regular breaks
We’ve all had to put the hours in for a big task, but productivity can drop over long periods of time without suitable breaks to allow the mind to recuperate. There are a number of methods to incorporate breaks during your day. It is generally good practice to take a screen break every 90 minutes or so. Use this time to focus on something further away than your screen , so as a general rule avoid phones and social media if you can.
A method that we like to use during really busy periods is the Pomodoro technique. Named after the once ubiquitous plastic tomato kitchen timers, this breaks down the working day into 25 minute chunks, or ‘pomodoros’. with five minute short breaks in between each. After four 25 minute sessions, a longer 15 – 30 minute break is taken, and the process repeated. We’ve found this technique to be especially useful when there is a lot of work to be done and we need to maximise our focus over longer periods.
Don’t forget exercise
An advantage of working from home is the elimination of the workday commute! Another DIS-advantage of WFH is the elimination of the workday commute! No one misses crowded bus queues, sweaty train carriages, frayed tempers and getting rained on first thing in the morning. However you may be missing out on average 40 minutes of exercise per day! The commute allows people to stretch their legs and get the blood pumping around in a way that rolling out of bed onto your desk just doesn’t compare.
Consider replacing some of your usual commute time with a walk around the nearest park, or some other exercise routine. This is also a time for reflection and thought, maybe some meditation or other mindful practice. Whatever you do, ensure that there is a buffer between waking, and working! Without this it is likely that fatigue will set in over time.
Everyone loves a bit of organised fun. WFH means that opportunities for cross department interaction — in the breakout room, canteen or pub after work — is reduced. Consider organising a few regular events. Here at Percipio we have a competitive football predictor league, weekly Friday drinks, quizzes, online escape rooms and more than a few games of Among Us to keep us connected. Work chat is strictly off-limits during socials!
If you are feeling a little isolated during your working day, Podcasts and radio can help to replace the sounds of human activity that we miss when working from home. Also try to take time out each day to speak to colleagues, its all too easy to fall into a pattern of logging on, working and logging off. Stay connected with your teams and take time to communicate, this will ensure that you have clearly understood aims and goals within the team.
Emily has written an article all about our Friday social which you can find here.