With coronavirus still posing a threat to daily life, more people than ever are working from home.
This week is International Week of Happiness at Work but many employees are spending very little time in the workplace in a bid to limit the spread of COVID 19. According to data from the Office for National Statistics, 46.6 per cent of people in employment worked from home during April and although many businesses have now reopened their doors to staff, others are choosing to continue working remotely for the foreseeable future.
But how do you make sure you get a proper break from work when your home has become your office?
It is harder to switch off from work when you never physically leave your workplace. In an ideal world, you would be able to create a home office in a spare room but, for many homeworkers, this just isn’t possible. What you can do is make sure you have separate zones for work and relaxation. Create somewhere you can relax and unwind at the end of a busy day – the living room is an ideal place for this and it’s a good idea to invest in a really comfortable sofa or armchair recliner. Don’t be tempted to work in the same spot you relax in. If possible, do your work in a different room or set up a desk with a firmer and more upright chair in a corner. Having one area for work and another play will help you resist the temptation to worry about your workload in your free time.
Try to stick to working set hours as much as possible. Having a routine will help your brain distinguish between when it is time to work and when you can relax. Establish boundaries concerning when you will and won’t work – this might mean making sure you have switched off your computer by a certain time or refusing to check work emails at weekends. Don’t feel you need to be available all the time – everyone needs some free time where they don’t have to think about work.
When you work from home, you can feel under pressure to be in productive work mode all the time. With no colleagues around to take breaks with, it can be easy to forget how important it is to take some time out during the day. Make sure you take regular screen breaks and, if possible, leave your home for a short walk or some exercise. Take advantage of the fact that you’re at home to make yourself a proper lunch and eat it away from your desk.
For some people, one of the appealing things about working from home is that they can wear whatever they want. However, having a work wardrobe helps our brains distinguish between the time we spend on our job and our free time. This doesn’t mean you have to spend hours getting ready if no one is going to see you but set aside some clothes you view as work attire and make sure you get yourself up, showered and dressed and eat breakfast before you start. Looking professional will help you feel professional and you can get changed into something more comfortable at the end of the day to signal you’re finished and ready to relax.