Unless you have been living under a rock you would have heard and seen the news about the Coronavirus pandemic that we are currently facing and experiencing.

A sensible step being taken by many at the moment is to restrict their movements, isolate themselves and work from home.

For some, the idea of working from home is a concept that they have either hated or dreamed of doing. However, when it actually comes down to it, it’s a concept that many people actually struggle to put into practice.

To help, Digital Nachos has created the following guide to help you work from home, even if it's just temporarily. After all, the team here at Digital Nachos has always worked from home either full time or for part of the week since we entered the workforce all those years ago. We know something about making it work.

Step 1: Clear some space

Not everyone has a room they can refer to as the office, in this case you are going to want to carve out a small space for you to work in your home. This could be a section of your dining table, an alcove in your living room, space under your stairs (assuming that it's open – no Harry Potter moments people), or even a corner of your bedroom.

Clear some space in this area. You may need to temporarily remove some of the clutter and objects that currently reside in this space (even for those who already have an actual office in their home). Pack them up nicely and store them away in a cupboard or loft – you can get them back out when normality returns to your life.

If you have a desk or table already then fantastic. If you have nothing that you could utilise or borrow then you may want to buy a small desk for the purpose of working from home. There are a number of companies such as Argos, IKEA, Dunelm and even supermarkets that can supply you with a cheap but functional desk and they deliver straight to your home.

You can list this desk for sale when normality resumes or flat pack it for any future use in your loft or shed. Remember to put aside the Instagram dream office for now (unless it's within budget and you are a very fast decorator).

Once you have created this space, keep this new found space clear and functional. Only have what you need to complete your job – a laptop, work notebook, pens, and coffee mug. A messy desk will make working from home harder, and cause an eyesore when you aren’t ‘working’ at home.

It is tempting not to work from a desk or table when you are working from home but there are two reasons why its important.

Number 1: When sitting at a desk or table you are in work mode, keeping this up allows you to separate your work from your home life – something you will be grateful for. Keep the sofas for chilling and enjoying time with friends and family.

Number 2: Your sitting position is better when sitting (or standing if you want to get complicated) at a desk or table. Sitting on the sofa causes you to arch your spine, sit on your legs or hold your head at an awkward angle when compared to the laptop screen. You might be fine for an afternoon but don’t let it become a habit.

Be your future friend

Step 2: Keep to your Routine

The first thing that goes out the window for many when they start working from home is the routine.

First time work from homers either work flat out from dawn to dusk, or they get distracted and start doing laundry or watching Netflix.

Neither of these are good so do yourself a favour and keep to your routine.

If you usually wake at 7am, get ready and head to work then continue doing this. Get up at 7am, have breakfast, get dressed to shoes (further information on this later) and then sit down at your desk ready for work.

If you usually have a long commute in the morning then don’t stay in bed for this extra time, get up as usual and use the time you would usually spend commuting exercising or completing household tasks so you won’t be tempted to do them later.

For some, keeping to 9 to 5 working hours whilst working from home is difficult. In an office environment this 9 to 5 workday is broken up with moving to conference rooms for meetings (giving you a change of scenery), visiting the office kitchen for drinks and snacks (giving you a chance to stretch your legs) and of course, chatting to others in the office (giving you a chance to be social and to vent about a particular problem). Working from home you lose this. Therefore, don’t be afraid to adjust your routine accordingly.

For example, if you typically wake up at 7am, leave the house at 8am to get to work for 9am. Typically have lunch at midday and then leave the office at 5pm. Then why not try the following.

7am | Wake Up, get dressed to shoes, eat breakfast

8am | Sit down at the desk, answer emails, plan work for the day, grab the second cup of coffee

9am | Work on client/problem/event A

10am | Work on client/problem/event B, grab a drink

11am | Work on client/problem/event C

Midday | Close laptop, make yourself lunch, enjoy it sitting in the garden or chatting to loved ones (who might be in the home with you or give them a call)

1pm | Work on client/problem/event A/D

2pm | Work on client/problem/event B/E, grab a drink

3pm | Work on client/problem/event C/F

4pm | Finalise work for the day, last lot of emails

5pm | Shut laptop down, leave desk tidy and prepped for the following day

5:10pm | Start your evening routine

Create a routine that works for you, go back to your school years and draw up a timetable for your typical day. That way you can keep focused and remind yourself that you aren’t working all day every day.

If you have others in the house with you then physically printing and displaying your working routine can help them avoid distracting you. If you have young children in the house then you may need to split your working schedule around them, taking larger chunks of time during the day for them but adding an hour or two to the evenings whilst they are in bed. If you have teenagers in the house then lead by example as I am sure they have school work, exam prep etc. that they need to do.

However, you decide to split your ‘working’ time, ensure that you stick to it as much as possible. And remember you can have a different routine every day if you are the kind of person who wants to be done by midday on Friday. Whatever works for you.

Step 3: Exercise

Ensure that you make exercise a daily part of your routine.

If you can head out into the fresh air then do so, whether that’s heading to a small local park or even into your back garden. Walk or jog around. Even add in some squats or bursts of high-intensity exercises.

If you aren’t able or willing to leave the house then simple things like walking up and down the stairs, downloading a 7-minute working app to your phone and following it, or joining along with a yoga YouTube video can make all the difference.

This physical element of your day is very important for your mental health, it also allows you to move around like you would have done in the office. Whether you walked around the office, run for the bus or walking from the car/train station to your place of work.

Step 4: Don’t Stay in PJs

The ultimate faux pas that people working from home make is staying in your PJs. This may sound comfy and maybe fun for the first day, but it's not conducive with a good working environment.

When you get up in the morning, keep to your routine and get dressed all the way to shoes. That way you are telling your brain and you are up and functioning.

If you want to continue wearing office wear then feel free, if you would rather put on jeans and a t-shirt then that’s entirely up to you. As long as its not PJs or loungewear. Keep those for Netflix binges and chilling – not work.

If you don’t want to wear outside shoes inside your home, then instead assign a pair of shoes for inside use. Perhaps a particular pair of trainers or pumps that are clean and comfortable.

Step 5: Don’t Chastise Yourself

If you aren’t feeling particularly motivated or focused, then allow yourself to take a break. Go for a walk, read a book, speak to loved ones on the phone. Working from home productively and effectively is harder than people think and can be very lonely. Reward yourself for sticking with your routine either at varying points of the day, in the evening or at the weekend.

If you wake up one day and you need to go to the supermarket for supplies, or to help a neighbour, then don’t chastise yourself for breaking your routine. Whilst it's important to work as required by your company/workplace, its also important to consider that it may be safer for you to head to the shops at quiet times of the day to avoid crowds.

Step 6: During this Time Ensure that you Keep in Touch

Last but not least. Relevant only to this particular situation. Ensure that you keep in touch with what is going on around you.

Keep an eye out for government announcements to ensure that you can protect yourself and others around you.

Ensure that you continue with good hygiene practices, wash your hands regularly, use tissues and avoid touching your face.

If you are feeling ill or start to cough then keep yourself away from others.

But most importantly, keep calm. Let’s all avoid panic buying and look out for one another.

Published: 17th Mar 2020

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