With coronavirus, home office is the new reality for swathes of office workers for the next few weeks or even months. And while most people have enjoyed the occasional day working from home as a respite from the office, permanent home office brings new challenges for focus and productivity.
It’s five years since I started working permanent from my home office. Previously, going to the office meant I worked at work and relaxed (mainly) at home. With home office the boundaries start to blur. Work and non-work combine in ways that can be unproductive and stressful.

Here are four tips I’ve learnt to keep boundaries that help me keep sane and productive:

  1. Keep up the routine
    The huge advantage of home office is the flexibility. On the flip side it can feel unstructured and unfocused. I’ve found that a regular routine, starting and finishing around the same time means I focus on getting stuff done during the working time. At the end of the day I can see my day as finished and mentally leave the office door and go home, even it is only 2 metres away.
  2. Create your own workspace
    Working sitting on your bed for a few hours, then moving to the sofa and then kitchen table means you could feel like work has over your life. I have a dedicated office in my apartment (that’s occasionally a guest bedroom) but if you can’t do this try to set up a place that you can call your workspace. Building a physical boundary creates a mental space where you work and leaves the rest of your home to be your home.
  3. Take breaks
    When I first started working from home, I noticed a reduction of thousands of steps a day on my step counter. It is too easy to sit in one place and keep on working. Going into the office routine provided natural breaks; the walk up a few flights of stairs to meeting, the walk to and from the office, a chat standing in the coffee room. I find a 5-minute walk outside does wonders for my creativity and productivity, but remember that social distancing!
  4. Social distancing not social isolation
    For an extravert like me, when I first left my office job I missed the social contact with (most) people. Communication is much harder when your remote. No “I was just passing so can I ask you this question” or “how was your weekend?”. It seems intrusive to organise a video call just for a chat. Especially in stressful times social contact helps to relieve stress.Try setting up 10-15 minute quick catch-up calls with people in your team to keep up the social contact while you are all working separately. Grabbing a virtual coffee keeps you in touch on work and socially –.

Coronavirus is throwing up many challenges – including remote working. We’ll all be learning and experimenting with life and work in the next few weeks. What are you and your team doing to keep productivity and focused while working from home? Share your tips in the chat below?

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