In the space of just a week, our working lives and daily routines have changed drastically. Usually-clogged roads are free of commuters, diaries have been cleared and sparkly awards dos put on hold until healthier times.
As we hunker down to see out coronavirus and millions of workers – including the Chatterbox team – get to grips with working at home, here’s our guide to surviving, and even thriving, in the coming months:
1. Stay ‘app-y
Emails are fine, but booking in regular face-time with colleagues can give you a sense of connectivity and camaraderie. Everyone we know is using Zoom, a cloud-based video conferencing service allowing you to join meetings via a webcam or phone.
Some services are free while others require a subscription, with core features including conferences of up to 40 minutes and with up to 100 participants. You can also screen share one-to-one or with large groups, so you can see the same things.
Video apps and sharing platforms don’t have to be just for ‘work’ stuff, either. The lovely folk at Welsh ICE have launched The Lunch Table on GotoMeet.Me, inviting members working from home to metaphorically share their sarnies each day.
2. Get dressed!
It sounds simple – but sometimes the small things make the biggest differences. Popping on your work clothes and going through usual routines such as applying make-up or styling your hair can put you in the right frame of mind and get you thinking about the day ahead. Wearing smarter clothes can also help you resist the temptation to dive back under the duvet…
3. Radio Ga-Ga
Without the bustle and noise of a busy office, your spare bedroom can be a lonely place. Popping on the radio quietly in the background can again give you a sense of connection, with many stations gearing content around coronavirus and how to cope. If you never want to hear the C-word again, soothing or uplifting music can help, and a quick browse on Spotify will open up all kinds of new public playlists to see you through.
4. Get outside…
… every day. Without the daily commute to contend with, ‘I don’t have time’ is no longer your excuse! A walk or run before sitting down at your desk in the morning or a stroll at lunchtime boosts productivity and creativity, while popping out at the end of the day can help you wind down and switch out of work mode. If you have coronavirus or are self-isolating, sitting in your garden or even next to an open window, listening to the sounds and watching the birds, can give you a real mental boost.
If you’re worried about coming into contact with others in the Great Outdoors, take heart; UK chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty has advised that exercise is ‘very important’ for children and adults and that being outside, away from crowds, is a good thing to do. Sadly, we’ve had to put our monthly netwalking events on hold for the foreseeable future, but we’d love to share our favourite routes with anyone looking for a quiet walk in south Wales. So if you need a change of scenery but don’t know where to go, get in touch and we’ll send some ideas!
5. Keep perspective
Like most of the Chatterbox team, you’re probably trying to work at home while simultaneously providing perfect parenting to young children or teens. It’s all about balance and doing what you can. You’re not failing if you just can’t manage the recommended number of hours’ home schooling; in the wider scheme of things, the priority is to get your family through this unprecedented time healthily and happily.
It’s ok to rely on screens to do a spot of babysitting while you work; just steer your children towards educational programmes such as wildlife documentaries or online tutorials on topics such as how to draw. And get them helping out with the chores; even small children can fold washing and lay the table, while teens can take on larger responsibilities. Think they couldn’t possibly manage? It’s good for them – this amazing TED talk says so!
6. Working 9 to 5
Whatever your usual hours are, try to keep to your routine. Start at the same time at home as you would in your workplace and make sure you take a break for lunch – away from the computer. If your children are home, get them off their screens too and eat together. With many of us taking our work home at night at the best of times, make a point of switching off at a certain time, even if it means setting an alarm. Put your laptop out of sight, switch your phone to silent and focus on an activity that will help you get into ‘home’ mode (did we mention getting outside…?).
7. Food for thought
At home, you might find it easier to snack, especially if your new office happens to be the kitchen table! Eating as healthily as you can throughout the day and drinking lots of water will help boost your mental health and keep your mind focused, especially during that afternoon slump. Set yourself tea break slots, whether at certain times or after you’ve finished a particular task. Take a physical break from your desk each time you boil the kettle and take five minutes to stretch, meditate or simply watch the world outside.
If any of our friends or followers are finding life tough at the moment, we’re here. Call us on 07947 979001 for a chat; we’re all in this together and it’s good to talk!