Working from home

Working from home presents both challenges and opportunities. As a seasoned home worker, Chris Sheridan, Head of Professional Standards and Development at the ARA shares his thoughts on how best to adjust.

Many of us will now be gradually adjusting to our new way of working for what could be the next three months or more. Many of you will have previously worked at home on the odd occasion, taking advantage of the opportunity to shut yourself away and focus on the task at hand. But working from home for longer periods can be very different. Your home is now your workspace – and some workspaces are bigger than others, with better facilities and plenty more distractions!

As an experienced home worker, I know there is a lot of advice and guidance out there to help you adjust, irrespective of your situation. I thought I’d share with you what I have found to be the most useful tips on adjusting to homeworking.  

  1. Feel free to explore all the guidance available online but be aware that much of it is quite repetitive. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development(CIPD), the professional body for human resource professionals, is probably the best starting point. ‘Getting the most from remote working’ is a great free resource offering advice on a range of subjects including 10 top tips for working remotely and for managing remote teams.
  • Keep up your commute but convert it into a short walk around your neighbourhood. This can form part of a daily exercise regime but please take note of the latest current Government advice. Alternatively try an on-line yoga or exercise class. YouTube is a great place to start. Moderate exercise before sitting down at your desk is proven to set you up for the day.
  • Keep to your workplace rituals. Take a lunch break just the same as if you were in the office and give yourself a break from your work. If you share your home with others and you’re finding it difficult to concentrate, then you may need to negotiate how you manage this, perhaps by starting work a little earlier, taking longer breaks, and working later than usual.
  • Those with children at home will know how difficult it is to get through a working day. Parents of children of all ages may find this LinkedIn article of interest. In addition, Amazon is offering free audio books – but check the terms before downloading.
  • For those living on their own, who find the silence uncomfortable, then you may prefer to have music or talk radio on in the background. Background noise can help some with the challenges presented by any form of isolation. And don’t worry about talking to yourself – according to the BBC it’s the first sign of success.
  • End your day with a to-do list for the following day. It helps you make a productive start to the day and by focusing on results you will still find that sense of achievement. It may include finishing tasks that you were unable to complete. Managers can use this technique to ensure their teams have the appropriate level of time-flexibility, and still deliver meaningful work.
  • Unless you already work from home, your commute to work will have changed. Use this to your advantage. You now have more thinking time, and you could use that to think about your own career development. Our ‘CPD at home’ blog goes into more detail about how best to continue your professional development while at home during this period.
  • It can be easy to forget the social benefits of daily interaction with colleagues so stay in regular contact with your line manager, your staff, your colleagues. If your office routine involves coffee/tea breaks then keep doing these with Skype, MSTeams, WhatsApp, HouseParty or any other app that promotes social contact. It’s a great way to boost staff morale. So, think twice before sending that email if you could pick up the phone instead!

Get in touch and let us know how you’re adjusting to remote working and whether the benefits outweigh the inconvenience. We’d love to hear from you. Contact chris.sheridan@archives.org.uk.

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