Home working during COVID-19: Our Dos and Don’ts
If you have never worked from home before and you suddenly now find yourself doing so, it can be quite an adjustment that should not be underestimated. It is vital to take care of your mental health to be able to work effectively, and this is before taking into account the added pressures of the current climate surrounding COVID-19.
To help you with your new working situation we have collated some simple do and don’ts to help you navigate your new homeworking. We hope it helps!
Do keep a daily routine - this includes going to bed at the same time each night as you usually would, getting up around the same time and working your set hours as closely as you can.
Do not start work straight out of bed.
Do get showered and dressed – it sounds patronising but we all know how tempting it is to work in the dressing gown. You will feel much better if you take the time to do this at the usual time.
Do get daylight and some fresh air before you start work, before you even open your emails, just like you would on your commute – even if this means a walk around the garden or sticking your head out of the window.
Do hydrate, it just always makes sense.
Do get out of the home and exercise – this does not have to be a run but could be stretching in the living room. We all have our own preferences on when we do this. We are currently allowed to leave the home once daily for exercise* so make sure to make it count.
Do have a designated workspace - this is important and will help with compart mentalisation.
Do not work where you sleep – keep where you sleep and work separate and try to also avoid working in your leisure zone for any part of the day, i.e. on the sofa. This will help you switch in and out of work mode.
Do take regular opportunities to have short breaks and connect with others.
Do ensure you still take a lunch break, even if you feel like you have accumulated enough mini breaks throughout the day – a lunch break is about getting some headspace of 30 minutes or more away from your work space to help your brain recalibrate.
Do cut listening to the news down and try to stick to one credible source that is not sensationalist – we recommend the BBC. Limit this to a couple of times a day, it really is all the same stuff anyway and this will help you give your mind a rest from it all.
Do signal the end of the day - your brain can liken this to walking out of the office, even if this is simply packing your workspace away and giving the fridge door a slam, this is you mentally switching out of work mode.
Don’t expect perfection – there are a mirage of distractions and temptations in the home that we simply don’t have in a work office, try your best to stay focused and except that some days you will fail, just try again the next day!
Do practice good sleep hygiene – we talk about this next time.
Do take it day by day - this situation is pushing us all to think and question our future when in reality, everything is fluid and everything is temporary; times may be uncertain but, really, they always were. Focus on the now, what you can control and keep your chin up, it’s almost never as bad we think it’s going to be.
Do try to make the most of a bad situation - you have some extra time on your hands without that dreadful commute we all complain about. For some people this is two hours or more a day! There must be some odd jobs you have been trying to get round to, a book you’ve wanted to read for ages, a recipe you want to try, a topic to research, or give a language a crack. Make use of this precious time, it won’t last forever and soon enough we will all be back on the commute we complain about.
Ella Flemyng, who works at Cochrane, a healthcare charity, shared the changes she’s made to her routine:
“Having suffered with anxiety in the past I knew taking my wellbeing seriously in the transition to self-isolation would be important. My new routine includes meditation before work (I use the Headspace app), spending the first hour of the working day on my balcony with a cup of coffee, reading through emails and making my to-do list for the day. I’ve set alarms for lunchtime yoga (Adriene’s Yoga on YouTube is great!) and for when the working day finishes, at which point I go for a run or walk. I’ve bought a sketching set and started drawing again after 15 years, and I’m planning to download an app to start learning Spanish as my brother moved to Madrid a few years ago and I’ve been meaning to learn for a while now.”
*Current UK Government guidelines as of 26 March 2020.
We have also developed a rapid response course to tackle the challenges of home working and cultivating good mental health in these uncertain times. Free webinars also coming soon.
Here are some useful resources to support your well-being at this time:
Mind – this resource is particularly useful and although contains links to UK based support, there is some v useful guidance here for all
Mental Health Europe:
(also includes some resource/helplines across Europe, aimed at young people, however many are appropriate for all ages)