22 great habits for working from home

22 great habits for working from home

Image of man in wheelchair at desk, with dog beside him

Chatty colleagues, late starts to meetings, and routine fire drills are no longer some of the distractions getting in the way of work. For many of us, working remotely has created the new challenge of juggling our professional lives with home distractions. Lack of routine and regular supervision have left many of us struggling to stay as productive as we’d like. And managers have often found it hard to find the best ways to support their teams and colleagues.

We’ve asked some of our leading diversity and performance management consultants for the suggestions and tips that have helped them to successfully adapt to the changing world of work. Start the New Year with a bang by adopting some of these great habits for working from home and boost your productivity, motivation, and wellbeing.

Start the New Year with these successful habits for working from home

1. Try the ‘fake commute’

More of us are using the time saved on our morning commutes to separate home from work, and to prep for the day ahead. Some are starting a new podcast series on a morning walk, whilst others are taking up yoga – whatever helps you to switch into work mode!

Lisa Jobson, Director and Talent Management Specialist

Image of woman writing at desk

2. Plan your day

Write up a rough to-do list to shape up your day. Setting reminders throughout the day to reply to emails can also help to avoid ‘anticipatory stress’, whilst reducing email disruption throughout your day.

Rachael Wilson, Managing Director

3. Get moving

Schedule in time in your diary each day, even if it is for 10 minutes, to get outside and exercise. If you can, walk to the shop or run around the park during lunch or in the morning.

Victoria Dale, Diversity and Organisational Development Consultant

4. Keep moving

To safeguard against spending too much time in front of the screen, I set the alarm clock in my kitchen to go off every hour. It is a way for me to get up from my desk and keep moving. I head into the kitchen and refill my water bottle or brew a tea to stay hydrated.

Linda Stewart, Diversity and Employment Law Specialist

Image of employee at desk with plants in background

5. Bring balance with biophilia

Electronic equipment, man-made fabrics, and lack of natural light and clean air create a working environment high in positive ions that can make us tired and feel down. Plants are one way to balance out the air in our workspace. Increasing the number of natural materials, being able to open windows, and having some personal space also helps improve the way people feel whilst working. For more tips, see my blog on managing your mental health.

Fenella Hemus, Diversity and Wellbeing Consultant

6. Connect with colleagues

Remember to reach out to your colleagues and be particularly mindful of who. As we work from home and miss seeing colleagues in an office environment, your inner circle can become very limited and small. So perhaps once a week (more the better!) make sure you reach out to someone new for help or even just a social hello to check in.

Anna Arbuthnot, Operations Manager

7. Catch up differently

Avoid Zoom fatigue by using meetings or one-to-one catch-ups to get outside for a walk and having a phone call. You will get some fresh air, whilst getting your eyes off the screen and outside.

Caroline Arnold, Diversity and Inclusion Consultant

8. Limit screen time where possible

It feels near to impossible to limit screen time as we spend most of the working day in front of a screen. But finding even brief opportunities to turn your eyes away from the screen can prevent eyestrain, fatigue, and boost energy. Take regular breaks to get up from your desk to remain active throughout the day, and as Caroline suggests, use catch up calls as a way to get out for a walk and off the screen.

Rui Martins, Project Manager

Shot of employee in wheelchair working at her desk

9. Stay social

Suggest informal coffee breaks with colleagues on Zoom or other platforms to talk about anything other than work.

Caroline Arnold, Diversity and Inclusion Consultant

10. Breathe deeply

Most of us take shallow breaths into the top of our lungs, which in itself causes stress in the body. Take a few minutes several times a day to focus on your breathing. Imagine your lungs as bellows and breathe slow and low into your side ribs. Make the exhale slightly longer than the inhale. If you feel dizzy it means you tend to chest breathe. Shorten the breath cycle and keep practicing, your lungs will get used to it and your mind and body will love you for it! This activates the ‘rest and digest’ nervous system, which reduces cortisol and heart rate, calms our body, improves focus and energy levels and helps to manage emotions.

Fenella Hemus, Diversity and Wellbeing Consultant

11. Work effectively

I use the Pomodoro Technique as it is great for productivity and focus. You start by setting a timer for 25 minutes and focusing on only one task in that time. When the time is up, I take a 5-minute break to stretch my legs, get a drink and to take my eyes off the screen. I then repeat this three times before then taking a slightly longer break. Doing this really helps me to effectively focus on one task done at a time, rather than jumping between jobs. I complete far more in a day by using this technique and I’d recommend trying it.

Mitch Price, Sales and Marketing Coordinator

12. Sounds

While I’m working, I have calming music playing the background. You can find several playlists on Spotify (my favourite one is called ‘Calming music for Anxiety/Stress/HSP’). I find silence provides distraction and creates a busy mind and this subtle music helps me focus and feel calm.

Zara Sloane, Diversity and Performance Enablement Specialist

13. Focus on food and drink

When overstretched and stressed it’s easy to turn to highly processed, sugary foods, caffeine and alcohol for an instant ‘fix’. The resulting insulin and energy spikes and crashes lead to mood swings and gut problems, which stress the body. Improving your diet to include plenty of vegetables and unprocessed foods and drinking water throughout the day will bring improved energy levels, alertness and mental wellbeing.

Fenella Hemus, Diversity and Wellbeing Consultant

14. Be kind to yourself

Acknowledge what you have got done at work today and recognise the challenges you are facing whilst working remotely. Doing this will help you to feel more rewarded and pleased about the work you have completed.

Lisa Jobson, Director and Talent Management Specialist

15. Set a finish time and try to stick to it as much as possible

Just like you would in the office, maintain the 9-5 routine where possible. Consider changing your work email notification settings to silence after work hours, helping you to switch off after work.

Catherine Manser, Project Manager

16. Pack up at the end of the day

If you don’t have a separate workspace, put laptop and any files away in a box or drawer to avoid seeing it during the evening and be tempted to check emails.

Caroline Arnold, Diversity and Inclusion Consultant

Close up of man looking at his watch

17. Ask about flexible working options

Remote working and local lockdowns have decreased our daily activity. Having a culture that recognises the present-day challenges facing us all allows for greater balance of work and other aspects crucial to our wellbeing, energy and productivity levels – such as fitting in a lunchtime run during the short daylight hours! Find out more about the benefits of adopting a flexible working policy.

Lisa Jobson, Director and Talent Management Specialist

18. Sleep

We cannot stress this one enough! Sleep should be a wellbeing focus for both you and your organisation in the coming year. It is vital for recharging after a tough day, maintaining energy and focus, and giving your eyes a rest from the endless number of Zoom meetings you have had that day. Avoid screen time an hour before sleeping as blue light makes it harder to switch off and get to sleep.

Victoria Dale, Diversity and Organisational Development Consultant

19. Prioritise mental health and wellbeing this year

With remote working during the pandemic adding fuel to the ‘always on’ culture, training your managers in mental health awareness will strengthen your organisation’s practice around mental health. And Wellbeing Workshops combat the stigma around common mental health problems and teach tips for self-care, resilience and stress management to all staff.

Mitch Price, Sales and Marketing Coordinator

20. Keep your team connected

The need for teams to stay connected is even more important when working from home – vital for team unity and idea sharing, whilst preventing some from feeling isolated. It’s easy to forget the social chats in the office, so if you are a manager or leader think about what social activities would go down well with your team – it might be a takeaway lunch or a Zoom quiz.

Jane Farrell, Chief Executive

Image of alarm clock dividing pink and blue backdrops

21. Switch off and unwind

Wrap up your day by writing a to-do list for the tasks you need to do tomorrow – this help me to unwind and avoid feeling anxious about the work yet to do! To unwind from your day, consider using the time you have saved on your commute home as an opportunity to exercise, start a new book, listen to music, cook, or get creative. For reading inspiration, check out our favourite diversity and inclusion and mental health and wellbeing books.

Rachael Wilson, Managing Director

22. Build an environment that listens

A truly inclusive culture is one that encourages teams to speak about their challenges and seek support, responding to needs with suitable help and support beyond the bare minimum. Whilst it might be via Microsoft Teams or Zoom for now, having an open-door policy where your colleagues can drop in at points during the day can prevent isolation and increase the support available to your team. Regular 1:1 catch ups and/or drop-in sessions might work better in your organisation to connected with your employees.

Jane Farrell, Chief Executive

 

Let us know which of these 22 great habits for working from home have helped you get the New Year off to a cracking start. If you are concerned about the wellbeing and mental health of your team or organisation as a whole, and would like help with planning a workplace mental health programme, get in touch. With almost 30 years of experience, we can provide the practical support needed to help you to make long lasting change within your organisation.

What are your organisation's diversity challenges?

Mitch Price is EW Group's Sales and Marketing Coordinator and works on social media, blogs, the reWorked podcast and other marketing tasks. Mitch has participated in several diversity and inclusion projects. He was a contributing author of the Penguin-curated book about mental health, 'It's Not OK to be Blue (and Other Lies)'. He was named as Stonewall’s Young Campaigner of the Year in 2016 for his work on discrimination facing LGBT+ young people.

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