Stay happy and healthy when working from home

Sharon Holland

With the recent move to home working for a lot of people, even for a short time, its important to approach this in a structured way to keep you both happy and healthy.  Below is our survival guide to working from home:

Create a designated work area

One of the best ways to reinforce the work/home boundary is to set up a dedicated office area – it doesn’t need to be a separate room it can just be a designated corner of a room.  It means you have your materials easily accessible, will show others when you are ‘at work’ or not, and it will trigger your work mindset.  Pick a clean, quiet spot without distractions, and ideally with natural lighting.  Make sure your chair is comfortable, turn your desk to the window, add photos, pictures, greenery and even scented candles – whatever makes you feel comfortable.
Set up desk area ergonomically following the NHS guidelines.

Get showered and dressed (but not too casual)

You will feel in ‘work’ mode and look more professional in any conference calls. This also signals to the rest of the family that it is a working day.

Schedule your day

It’s vital to create a structure to your day. Have clear start/finish times and schedule a lunch break as well as time for meetings and phone calls, plus a realistic amount of time for your to-do list.

Keep up social connections

It is crucial for your mental health to speaking with other human beings. Tools like Slack are great, but don’t you can still pick up the phone and call/video chat people. If you have a friend you always get coffee or lunch with, try to keep up the tradition over the phone.  Your co-workers will be just as keen for human contact as you are so set aside some weekly or daily time for the office chat – the watercooler aspect of office life.  It doesn’t have to take a lot of time, or be completely work-related, it just keep you in contact with the people in your office.

Prep meals and snacks

Stock your kitchen with healthy snacks and meal prep so you are not worrying about what to have for lunch.  But don’t get tempted to keep popping to the kitchen so give yourself an allocation of snacks for the day.

Sit down to eat

Scheduling time for breakfast, lunch, and dinner can help your productivity because skipping meals can lead to tiredness and a lack of concentration.  It can also help stop you grazing if you have a kitchen in easy reach.  When you do sit down to a meal it should be at a table, not your work desk, and shut down your electronic devices.

Drink lots of water

Make sure you stay hydrated as dehydration can lead to fatigue and headaches, which may affect your concentration and productivity – the government guidance is 6 to 8 glasses of water a day.  Here are some ways to get your daily allowance.

Get up and get out

Set a timer or use an app/smartwatch etc to remind you to get up once every hour, make a cup of tea, get a drink of water or a snack, go to the toilet, go to the printer or do some desk-based exercise.

Schedule a workout before or after work hours, or during your lunch break.  Create your own workout from bodyweight exercises that you can do inside without any equipment (check with your doctor before starting a new exercise regime).

At lunchtime, if you don’t fancy a workout make sure you get outside, even just to walk around the block and get some sunshine and fresh air.  Maybe take the dog for a walk while we are still allowed.  But if you can’t do this you can do some desk-based exercise.  These activities also allow you time to rest your brain and focus on something else for a few minutes.

Develop a shutdown ritual

The line between work and home time can become blurred, so develop a routine that signals the end of the workday and gets you in ‘home’ mode.  This can be as straightforward as closing your laptop and putting it out of sight, changing into comfy clothes or making the dinner.   It can also be more involved, like a workout or walking the dog.

 

Not everyone will be able to do all of these, you just need to find your own version that works for you and your family.