As the COVID-19 Pandemic has swept the world in 2020, many businesses are asking their employees to start working from home. On the surface working from home, sounds like it can be a breeze; no stress of transport to the office, no annoying co-workers asking questions or no boss regularly checking to see if you’re using your phone - it sounds perfect. However once you get into the swing of working from home, you can quickly find that your work-life balance can be thrown out of whack, your reduced social interactions can diminish your mental well-being and you can end up being distracted and unproductive. To help you out we’ve compiled this handy list of trips and ticks to aid you whilst working at home.

Set up a routine

One of the leading causes of stress and a driver of lack of motivation when working from home is not having a regular routine. When working from the office, maybe without even realising it, almost everyone has a routine. You might arrive at 9am and regularly go and grab a coffee at around 11am, then you may eat lunch around 1pm and go and chat with some co-workers around 3pm. Breaking up your day like this, be it consciously or subconsciously, allows you to focus better and get more work done.

However when you are at home this routine can be thrown out the window, everyday you might wake up a different time, have a coffee when you feel like it and make lunch when you’re not in a meeting on Zoom or after a portion of work is complete. In order to make your house a more comfortable workspace it’s a good idea to create a daily routine you can stick to. Something as simple as writing down when you’ll take lunch and coffee breaks and when you’ll start work, will allow your mind to compartmentalise your work into blocks, reduce stress and make it easier to concentrate.

The key thing to remember is once you make a routine stick to it. If you can, also share this routine with your employer so they can know when to expect you to be available for work.

Take regular breaks

Something that is even more important when working from home is to take regular breaks. In an office environment people are naturally motivated by their colleagues working alongside them and a natural lack of distractions in the workplace. However at home you don’t have colleagues to motivate you and distractions are abundant - from Facebook memes, to your pet, family members or even a games console, it can be very easy to slip out of work mode and into procrastination mode. So a good way to avoid this is to take regular breaks. Divide your work up into 40 minute to 1 hour focus blocks and set a timer, then reward yourself with a 10 minute break afterwards. This will allow you to be switched on for most of the day and also help you to avoid burning out.

Define boundaries

It’s also very important to take breaks after and before work. In the modern world people are often continuing to work after they’ve left the office, but when you’re working from home, this can take up a lot more of your time than usual. There are a few reasons behind this. Firstly when working from home, people often feel they are not doing enough for their company because they may spend more time distracted or taking a few minutes extra off here and there throughout the day. Secondly people’s output is often reduced at home due to numerous distractions and delays with technology or alike, and thus their workload seeps into their evenings or their early mornings. This can result in people working huge days at home, which can be very damaging for one's mental health.

A key way to avoid this is to set boundaries. You should let your employer know, if you can, what times you’ll be working between and stick to that. After these times you should relax and turn off any work related notifications and continue with your hobbies, as you would normally after a day’s work.

Remove irregular stresses

In recent times with large workforces moving to work from home, people are getting stressed out by things that they normally don’t have to deal with; from using Zoom or other video conferencing platforms for meetings, to setting up remote learning or screen sharing software, it can be a big challenge for people to adapt and this can add further stress.

In order to overcome these challenges, try and become proficient in the new software and practices that you’re having to use. Zoom, for example, have a bunch of helpful resources available on their site for how to use the product properly to make it easier for everyone. These are available here: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/209743263-Meeting-and-Webinar-Best-Practices-and-Resources

Many software companies have similar resources. The best way to locate these is to simply Google “SOFTWARE NAME Best Practices” and go through the results.

Once you start to get proficient in these new practices, it’s nice to help out your coworkers who might be struggling as well. Your company will be thankful for it!

Call your colleagues

Another element of work life which is removed as people transition to working from home is the social interaction with colleagues. At work idle chat about your weekends with other colleagues can seem like a time sink, but it’s often very good for mental stimulus and health. It's a good idea to regularly call your colleagues, at least the ones who you like, and see how they are getting on. Moving the conversation into the challenges of working from home and also other work related gossip can be a nice way to increase motivation and maintain regular social interaction in your remote workplace.

Automate & streamline what you can

Working at home also gives you the opportunity to automate & streamline parts of your job which you might not have thought about. Regularly people spend time doing jobs which can be a lot quicker with the aid of software.

For example if you’re using Facebook, Instagram or Twitter in your job, you can use a tool like Simple Social to speed up your work immensely. Simple Social allows you to manage all your social media accounts in one place, post to them all at once, edit and filter images and even schedule posts, plus receive analytics information. With Simple Social you don’t have to waste time moving between platforms and apps, and can spend more time focusing on what you enjoy. What’s more it’s free for the first month and then only $14.99 per month there after. There's no payment required to give it a trial, so click here to give it a go!

There are also many other tools out there for different areas that allow you to automate part of your job.

Have a good environment

Another key factor to working from home is making sure you have a good workspace. If you can, set up a desk away from your bedroom to mentally separate work and leisure areas and make sure you have good back support from your chair when seated. Many people are moving monitors and chairs from their office to their home. It’s worthwhile seeing if your company can allow this, to make your working from home experience as comfortable as possible.

Get outside

Finally make sure to spend some time outside. Get some fresh air on your breaks in your front or back yard, or if you’re in an apartment head down to the street level to take in some nature and reset your mind. Even going for a walk around the block can be a great way to reset yourself during a work break and make you more productive afterwards.

That’s it for our tips and tricks for working from home. If this guide helped you please take the time to share it with a friend!