It has been over eight weeks of coping with working from home. Although we may have settled into the routine of the new working day and different methods of communication, it might be useful to revisit guidance, and reflect on it once again.

Workspace

The main way to manage working from home is to create a routine and a professional working environment.

Many people are still enjoying the new freedoms linked to working from home; but along with those benefits  – not spending time travelling to work, being in a more relaxed environment, able to wear ‘non-work’ clothes – it is also important to keep to a routine.

For the majority of work-at-homers there will be (eventually) a return to the workplace. So, keeping to a routine will help with that eventual transition. In particular, regular start and finish times not only make it easier for others to contact you, but also create a recognised break between home and work.

Also, think about your working environment at home. This includes what others see when they see you – not just you, but also your background, in the same way that we might notice the home environment of someone interviewed on the news. Where possible, create a professional working space and image, as you would at work. Virtual backgrounds can be useful too!

Communication

Communication can be difficult for those who are relying on online video calls, and for those who are in the new style workplace, having to keep two metres apart. The distance between colleagues in both settings, day after day, can inhibit useful communication. This is partly because we rely on body language and what we see in others’ faces to help us interpret what is meant by the spoken words. The tone and emphasis of our conversations also provide clues. Much of this intuition is hampered by the distortion of the internet call, amazing though it is to have such technology at our disposal, or social distancing.

So, be prepared to ask for and receive more requests for clarification in such calls, and don’t be afraid to ask for explanations, as well.

It is also important to be aware of the content and tone of your conversations. This conversation may be the only contact you have today with that particular colleague. Try to make each call, even if it is a difficult topic, end on a positive feedback note – or, if this is not possible, check in later with your colleague to do the positive catch up then.  We need to preserve relationships so that when we return to the workplace together, we have less bridge-building to do.

Take part, have fun

Encourage your colleagues to do something fun and not work-related, on a regular basis, such as a virtual weekly quiz, as we do at Creation IP, or simply have a chat session, over a pre-arranged lunch slot. We also now have a staff meeting each morning (it used to be weekly). In this daily meeting, we make time for four or five colleagues to share something that is on their mind, or that has happened in their life (it’s fine to pass).

In this way, we are keeping in contact with each other, and in a small way, we continue to have some of the personal chat that takes place when we are in the office.

These links may be of use in helping you to reflect on the continuing work-from-home situation.

This update by Alison Clark, HR Support at Creation IP, provides some tips on how to cope with working from home and how to stay productive in these difficult times.

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