7 tips on how not to lose hope – home office during COVID-19
by Project Managers Péter Müller and Tibor Pék
With distressing news circulating about the coronavirus outbreak, you will probably have been asked to work from home for an indefinite time. At first it might seem a bit like a holiday: you can get comfortable, sit around in your bathrobe or pyjamas with your favourite band on full blast, or have a chat with your cat as it sleeps on the keyboard.
However, if not managed appropriately, home office can have serious negative impacts on your productivity and motivation, and, eventually, your overall social wellbeing.
Below, we offer a few pointers, which, in our opinion, will help you manage these upcoming weeks while we’re confined to our homes. To emphasise the possibility of teamwork during home office, our colleagues Peti and Tibi wrote this article together (with the help of Steffy the dog), while working from their respective home offices 😉.
1: Avoid spending the entire day in your room
Don’t forget that your workspace will be greatly reduced if you’ve set up your workstation in your room. Bear in mind that, after a while, the oxygen level in the air that you’re constantly breathing in and out will eventually drop, which will result in concentration loss and tiredness. If you can, choose a larger space, such as your living room. If your living room is already occupied, then don’t forget to let the fresh air in occasionally.
2: Wake up early and get ready for the day
Some of us might entertain the idea of waking up and getting out of bed just a few minutes before office hours and lumbering to the computer, toothbrush in mouth. However, your workstation should be considered as your little office within your home. It’s sensible to treat that space as a separate location, where proper clothing, hygiene, and a work mentality is the norm.
3: Try to shut out distractions
Working right next to your Xbox, bookcase, or comic book collection is like roasting marshmallows next to a bear’s cave. The danger of distraction is very subtle. At first, you don’t even realize it, but after a few seconds you catch yourself just staring at the colourful boxes or reading the titles of your favourite books. Folding screens or curtains are an excellent solution for this. They help you create a more office-like environment, especially if you attach some useful sticky notes, or add some photos of your team, taken at the last teambuilding event.
4: Don’t isolate yourself completely
One of the best and most useful aspects of working in an office is being able to have a friendly chat during lunch or coffee breaks, or asking for help from the colleagues sitting next to you. Don’t sever these social ties just because you happen to be working in separate buildings, or even cities. Reach out to your colleagues, ask them to share their weekend plans, or just send a funny cat video to cheer them up. But don’t overdo it. Respect each other’s need to concentrate!
5: Watch your posture and sit properly
Working on your laptop while lying on your stomach might sound relaxing and comfortable, but you’ll soon find yourself either asleep or with a sore back. Try to find a comfortable but healthy posture in front of your computer. You wouldn’t put your feet up on your desk while composing e-mails in the office, nor should you get too comfortable at home.
6: Move around occasionally
For the time being, even the minimal amount of movement involved in commuting from home to the office is no longer required, so it’s important that you don’t spend your entire day in your chair. It’s a good idea to walk around occasionally, or, if you feel up to it, to do a couple of exercises to keep yourself fit and your immune system strong. Exercises you can do at home without any equipment include push ups, squats, crunches and jumping jacks. If you’re unsure about how to do any of these exercises correctly, check one of the popular video-sharing platforms: there are a plenty of tutorials available. Stay fit 😊
7: Don’t let the work overflow and tip your work–life balance
“Just one more e-mail and I’m done.”
“Hold on, just one last line.”
“I’ll be right with you, just let me check this really quickly.”
Sounds familiar? If you catch yourself doing this, you need to define a clear starting and ending point for your work. Don’t let your job suffocate you: make sure you leave your home office just as you would the real office. Try to schedule everything accordingly, and if you can take care of something the next day, do so, with a fresh mindset.
+1 bonus: Don’t get discouraged by constantly reading the news
The terrible events during the current pandemic will inevitably lead to disheartening news. But don’t allow yourself to despair: instead, think of it as something that must pass. Temporarily there are many inconveniences, but we will get over it. Just make sure to keep yourself healthy by following the advice shared by WHO and other organizations. Keep hydrated, wash your hands, and stay positive.
See you soon in the office!