In 2020, millions of us made a sudden and unexpected transition in our professional lives. For the sake of our own safety, and that of those around us, we stopped going into the office, and performed our duties from home instead. For many, this was a welcome change; it confers a number of benefits that home-working advocates have been citing for years (mostly without success). It means less time and energy spent commuting, more time to do the things we’d like to do, and a healthier balance between home and work life.
Of course, not everyone has taken to home working with the same degree of enthusiasm. For many, it’s hampered productivity and caused avoidable stress. But many of these negative side-effects have been caused, not by home working itself, but by the way that it’s done. Let’s look at how we can fine-tune the home-working experience!
If you’re going to be sending files, receiving emails, and participating in video conferences, then it follows that you need internet that’s both fast and reliable. When instantprint, a company that offers an array of printed options from roller banners to posters, looked into the matter, they discovered that Belfast was an ideal place in which to work from home, thanks to the quality of its broadband.
instantprint’s research identified two particularly common sources of distraction: children and household pets (which were respectively cited by 28% and 20% of participants). Having an established routine and workspace can help you to avoid the first problem, if not the second. Carve out a dedicated office space, and make it off-limits to other members of your household. While you’re in there, you’re not to be disturbed. Figure out when you need to be in there, and keep to the same schedule every day. Do this, and no-one can complain that the rules are difficult to understand.
Your surroundings will also influence your state of mind. You might hear it said that yellow walls promote concentration and blue walls promote relaxation; the truth is that it varies considerably from person to person. What’s clear is that the presence of plant life can be a tremendous boon to mental health – so make sure that there’s a houseplant in the area.
While you’re working from home, there may be a temptation to neglect to look after yourself. Physical exercise outdoors can be of tremendous benefit, as can self-care practices like mindfulness. Find a way to fit them into your day, and stick to them relentlessly.