Six ways to make working from home work for you

a person working from home
  • Published Date: 24 March 2020

The global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has created a large degree of uncertainty and the nature of day to day work in government agencies is rapidly changing.

With an increasing number of organisations making the switch to remote working environments, we’ve done some research to uncover some simple things to think about if you find yourself working from home.

Wellbeing

Keeping yourself healthy over the next few months is critical, this includes looking after your mental wellbeing. Remember that you are not alone in how you are feeling, almost all people affected by emergencies will experience psychological distress.

Keeping up regular contact with your team helps you and your team feel more connected.

Set up regular video calls and one on ones with your normal daily contacts and try not to isolate yourself.

Beyond Blue and the Mental Health Foundation both have some great tips on how to get through these challenging times. Seek out your organisation’s Employee Assistance Program and don't be afraid to reach out to them if need be. That is what they are there for.

Communicating through the changes

A lot can change in a day right now.

Working in the public sector, you are likely to be accustomed to change but not all change is managed the same. Right now there isn’t time to look at the awareness or desire to change, it seems most change is being forced by necessity. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t utilise change principles for communication.

Both, The Mandarin and The Harvard Business review have some informative articles on the importance of communication through change.

Remember, regular communication in times of change helps keep everyone on the same page and reduces the chance of staff feeling isolated.

Processes

Processes are fundamental to work in organisations of all sizes, but do they still work when most staff are not physically in a single location?

Think through what processes are essential and which can be streamlined. Where possible set up processes to reduce bottlenecks if someone is ill or unavailable. Will workflow still be the same? And if not, what processes need to be relaxed, strengthened or changed.

And what processes will you set up around working from home?

As a start, set clear expectations with your manager, your team and your colleagues. That might be signing in and out each day with what you’re doing with your day or a daily work in progress phone call. Find something that works for you and your team and stick to it. Built-In has some tips on How to make an effective work from home policy.

Office set up

If you already have an office at home, you’re already a step ahead. If not, you might need to make a DIY office somewhere in your house. And we’re not talking about in your bed or on the couch, you will need a chair with proper back support.

Find a place that has enough space for you to work effectively with minimal distractions.

Then make sure you have everything you need. What equipment can you borrow from work? Do you need any files? And don’t forget your charger!

The next step is to set yourself up properly. In this video, ergonomics expert Jon Cinkay shares how to set up your desk. Make sure your chair is the right height, your monitor is at eye level and about arm's length away and check that you are not reaching for your keyboard and mouse.

And when you’re signing off at the end of the day, don’t forget to tidy up your workstation to let yourself know that you have officially clocked off for the day.

Distractions

The home is filled with distractions that can take you away from your work or even make you feel a little overwhelmed.

Chances are you’re not the only one in your team trying to balance these distractions. Talk to your colleagues and if you’re working from home with kids, Buffer has 21 tips that you might find helpful.

Try and mirror your office environment as much as possible. Keep away from the TV: it's a huge distraction and not one you normally have at work.

If you can’t work while looking at the pile of washing or your windows that should have been cleaned months ago but never bothered you until now, set some time aside to do those things so you can focus on your work.

Take a break

Don’t forget to take some breaks. Remember, now that you’re at home, you’re missing those usual mini-breaks that break up the workday, for example, your morning walk to get coffee, water cooler chat or moving from your desk to the kitchen for lunch.

Set times in your day to take a break and look after yourself. Consider the following:

  • a walk around the block
  • popping down to your local coffee shop (if it’s still open) for your flat white each morning
  • a dance party in the lounge to keep up the Fitbit steps and use some of the kid's energy up
  • or cleaning those pesky windows.

Use your commuter time

Lastly, there is one big perk of working from home. You are no longer commuting to work so you have all that extra time in your day. Try to spend this time doing what makes you feel happy.