I have been working with clients this week who are now entirely working from home. Adapting to the new work situation and being in such close proximity to spouses and children they are finding it difficult to get more than ten minutes’ work done at a time without being interrupted or distracted. I gave them some guidance on more effective home working, which I thought you might find useful in this unprecedented time.

Create your own space

I’m one of the lucky few who have an office space at home, which is a real luxury. Many people don’t have this, and the ones that do are currently sharing it with partners and sometimes their older children.

One friend of mine has had to create space for herself, her husband who’s also working from home and her daughter who’s home from university but still learning virtually. They’re finding it really hard to give each other the space they need in a small house.working from home ironing boardIf you have a spare room that you can use to create your space, that’s great. If not, you can commandeer a corner or edge of a room. If you don’t have a desk, something makeshift is fine. We’ve seen camping tables, old doors and ironing boards being used as work surfaces so far this week.

A space that’s your own is ideal so you can keep it set up overnight. If this isn’t possible, working in shifts and hot desking with your family members can work well. Allocate a shelf or a laptop bag for each person to keep their work and equipment safe when it’s not in use.

Keep a routine

Having a structure in your day is really helpful at a time like this. It really helps me because it’s something that I can control, when so many other things are currently out of my control. I set my alarm, get up, have breakfast and get dressed in casual workwear – Skype and Zoom make loungewear, at least on the top half, a no-no.

I have three-hour blocks from 9 until 12 and 1 until 4 where I’m working on key tasks. I work through my list, starting at the top, being careful not to skip anything that seems too difficult. I schedule calls every day, whether I need to have them or not, just to catch up and maintain working relationships.

Then at the end of each day I reflect on what I’ve achieved, even if it’s not as much as I’d have liked, and I remind myself of the things that I’m thankful for.

Last of all, thanks to the lack of daily commute, I re-join my family and have some fun!

Find peace

It’s not just about the space, it’s the peace we need more than anything. Working at home is one thing, but working at home with the children around is a whole new ball game. If you have the luxury of a partner who is tasking turns with the responsibility of home learning, entertaining or refereeing the kids, you will be able to use headphones to give yourself some space from the household noise.

If you’re working alongside your children, Audible is offering free audiobooks for children at the moment, which might be a good alternative to device screens for a while.

Taking scheduled breaks from work to read a book can help you to find peace in your mind and give you some space from the news and social media. Taking yourself off into a fantasy world can really help you to relax and give your brain a break. Reading is more immersive the TV. It’s active, whereas watching the TV is passive. Reading reduces stress, promotes comprehension and imagination, alleviates depression, helps you sleep and may contribute to preventing Alzheimer’s.


Get outdoors

Make sure you take time for peace outside your workspace too. It’s easy to be drawn into working more often when your work is at home, and you can become stressed and jittery from being overwhelmed with information.woman on doorstep

Take yourself out for a walk if you can, have a potter in your garden, or just sit on your doorstep with a cup of tea. Whatever you can do to get some fresh air and have a few moments of silence is worthwhile. You’ll return to your workspace feeling revived and ready to take on your to-do list.

Do you need support?

At this difficult time I’m setting aside part of my day to offer FREE Executive Coaching to people who would value, amongst other things, some help in adopting a new way of working, wanting to explore the impact of the coronavirus on their business or to think through how they can recapture lost ground when the virus passes. If you’re struggling and you need to find a solution, Catalyst can help.

Take care and stay safe.