Optimise your WFH set up.

A laptop, tablet, or computer is a good starting point for working from home, with most of us being able to bring our work devices home with us, however a good set up goes beyond just what you use to access your work. Making sure you have an area to work in with space to spread out and be comfortable, is just as important.

Unfortunately, not everyone has access to such space in their houses, meaning you need to optimise your current space and work with what you have. Here are some tips for maximising your space:
  • Invest in good lighting – sitting in a room with natural light is important to lift spirits and help you feel refreshed. Darker mornings and nights can be a hindrance to this, so purchasing natural light imitating bulbs or a lamp will provide you with the same effect throughout the day.
  • Designate somewhere comfortable to sit – if you have the space/funds, buying a personal desk can help you feel more productive and help support your back. Alternatively, working from your own kitchen or dining room table can offer the same support, provided you don’t mind moving your work for meal times! For safer sitting, back supports and chair cushions can come in handy if you don’t have the comfiest of kitchen chairs. If you don’t have a table to sit at or prefer your sofa, you can invest in a laptop tray. With loads of styles to choose from, you’re sure to find one to suit your needs and give you some space to work.
  • Check/talk to your internet provider – Now more people are working from home, internet bandwidth is more important than ever, more people on your bandwidth = more bandwidth needed for your connection to cope. Check what your plan is/what you are paying for, and if your connection speed isn’t matching up, get in touch with your provider to see if they can help. The most reliable connection is that of the Ethernet cable, if you can, connect to your router directly in case your wifi signal drops out.
  • Office equipment – Unfortunately, we don’t know how long it’ll be until offices and communal workspaces are deemed suitable again, therefore it's beneficial to get any equipment that’ll help your WFH life easier. If you work in a louder home environment, a headset with a mic can help you listen in and be heard on video calls. If your laptop lacks the storage space, get a backup USB or memory bank, or if you find your job easier if you print things, look into getting a personal printer, there are many available with various price points to suit most people.

Look after your mental and physical health

Not seeing your usual colleagues or working from home when you live alone can take its toll on your mental health, it's important to take time to check in with yourself and work out if your social needs are being met. Video meetings don’t have to be restricted to work, having a catch up with colleagues or family via video is much more personal and allows you to ‘see’ each other. It’s important to speak up and talk to work colleagues and management if you are struggling with your WFH environment or workload. A good workplace will support its staff and provide you with any additional equipment you need to perform your job at home.

Working in an uncomfortable position or spending all day not moving much can be fine for one day, but not for the long term, as you won’t realise the damage it’s doing. Remember to take regular breaks, get up from where you are sat and have a move about. Do a lap round the living room, go get a drink, or just have a stretch – doing something else for 5 minutes can help you refocus and feel better at the end of your working day.

As mentioned above in optimising your WFH set up, how you sit is just as important as where you sit. Sitting at the right height not only supports your back and neck while at work, but it can also instil some posture changing behaviour that will help you in your personal life. Heres a link to the NHS guide on sitting. More limited time outside, whether it's due to the Government guidelines, darker evenings or less than ideal weather, we are all moving less than we naturally would. As part of your day, try to schedule in exercise, as previously mentioned, your regular breaks are a big help. Many people of all ages have turned to Joe Wicks’ PE videos for an uplift in the morning, getting your blood pumping for 10 mins can get you feeling energised to start your day. Alongside Joe, there are thousands of other creators adding videos to YouTube, search for what you feel like doing and for how long and there is certainly a video for you.

Create/stick to a routine

Not needing to drive to and from work, do the school run, or have the regular weekly outings to the gym or supermarket, has freed up time for people in their day. If you have children, no doubt you’ll have a morning routine already in place, grateful for not needing to do the school run, but for others, this is time you can spend working on yourself (this includes taking time to wind down!)

The 1st step to your WFH routine is to set regular working hours. Try not to over work yourself by logging off at a regular time and stay off for the evening, making sure you communicate these hours to your team via your out-of-office email or online/offline status. This also helps you set ground rules with the people in your WFH space, they will know when you are working and need to be left alone, and when you have free time to spend doing other things/tasks.

When WFH it can be difficult to separate your home and work life, therefore starting your day by getting showered and dressed (be it joggers or jeans) out of your bed clothes can help you feel more productive as it signals to your brain you are getting into ‘work mode’. A lot of what people are experiencing right now is a disruption of their routine, choosing what to wear and the act of getting dressed is something you can still control and maintain. Separating your home life in the evening is helped along by you setting routine working hours, but to simulate a commute, getting some shoes on and going for a daily walk when you clock-off is a great way to clear your head and get some fresh air. Coming home you should feel a bit more refreshed and can wind down for your evening.

By now most of us are familiar with the challenges of working from home and have learnt to adapt, however it can be easy to slip into bad habits and forget to look after yourself, so this is a reminder to be kind to yourself and with help from some of the tips above you can stay efficient and focused at home.