As we all work towards navigating our ‘new normal’ during the global Covid-19 pandemic, many of us are faced with an extremely different working style than previously used to and the work/life balance we have all strived towards has been interrupted by working from home. This change to structure and environment can be very difficult for many and with no end date in sight, it’s time to adapt to this new way of life and make changes to our routine to help keep productivity and morale high.
Qualified Nutrition Coach and Workplace Wellbeing expert Elizabeth O’Riordan has used her years of experience in mentoring employee morale to create these essential tips for keeping our spirits high with the most efficient and health-conscious working from home structure in the current climate.
1. Keep Your Day As Structured As Normal
One of the main things you will quickly miss when working from home is the structure. Try to keep your day as similar as it was before. Wake up at the same time and get dressed in clothes that you are comfortable in, yet smart enough should you be required to go on a video call. It’s essential to have breakfast as normal and use the time you would usually take for your commute to go for a walk or do an at-home workout. This way your body is staying on track and isn’t confused with this sudden change of routine. The transition from your pillow straight to your computer can be jarring, so it’s best to pretend like you are going into the office.
This also means defining a time to finish each day. While many think working from home gives you more of a work/life balance, it can have an opposite effect in both directions. It’s very easy to get caught up with your daily tasks and work late into the evening, therefore leaving yourself mentally and physically drained for the next day, while others may also take advantage of working from home and slack off, reducing their productivity and making it harder to concentrate when necessary. Set an alarm at the end of the day to indicate to your brain that your working hours are coming to an end and if possible, begin to save your work and switch off your computer.
2. It’s Time To Be Your Own Manager
When working from home, you are your own personal manager. It’s up to you to boost your morale and stay focused and not burn out. It’s essential to stay on schedule, map out daily, weekly and monthly tasks and decide your plan of action for the day.
3. Set Up A Dedicated Workspace
Where you work is an extremely important decision when working from home. If possible, it is best to separate your work life from your home life, be it a spare room or an empty corner. Try to stay away from working in areas you associate with relaxation or sleep. Choose a location in the home that has limited distractions and ample natural lighting. Good posture is also important to remember. Allocate a space that you can leave at the end of the day as it’s important to disconnect mentally.
If you are using video conferencing software, eg Zoom or Skype, for meetings or lectures, make sure to familiarise yourself with the camera, mute buttons and the background you are going to use. Are you happy to show off this space to those on your meetings and does it provide ample light and is it in quite area. This is essential for a productive video conference.
4. Keep Up Your Workplace Communication
Working from home means workplace conversations aren’t as easy as before, however, it’s essential to keep up communication with co-workers outside of emails and meetings. Where possible, connect virtually with your colleagues via face-to-face video calls, group messaging or phone calls to ensure you all stay connected, which will help alleviate the feeling of loneliness which can come from isolation.
5. Ensure You Take A Break
Take regular breaks to get away from the screen and improve circulation by taking frequent short walks around your home to get your blood flowing or, if possible, take a short walk outside. It can be so easy to get distracted and avoid breaks altogether, however taking a few minutes out throughout the day to do something away from the screen can greatly increase your productivity.
6. Be Conscious Of What You’re Eating
While snacking throughout the day is tempting, it’s important to fill your body full of foods that can benefit you mentally and keep you focused.
- Porridge – which aids mental performance.
- Red Skin Peanuts – which are high in Arginine which promotes Nitric Oxide and can change the computation ability of the brain.
- Raw Walnuts – which contain ingredients that have heart and brain health benefits.
- Salmon – an oily fish which aids brain function
- Blueberries – blueberry polyphenols attenuate inflammatory responses of brain microglia.