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With the current Coronavirus crisis are you working from home? While working from home might be new to some of us there has been an explosion of the flexible working trend in recent years. Just 46% of UK workers still operate within the standard 9-5 office environment and many employees now choose to work part time, do a job share or, increasingly, work remotely from their own home.

Working from home has many benefits, especially in the current crisis! However, remote working can sometimes be isolating and less productive when you don’t have a proper structure in place.

It’s essential to keep an eye on your mental and physical health, just as you would while working in a normal office. Many people feel the need to overwork themselves when their manager can’t directly see what they’re doing, and unhealthy habits can form.

To help you get into the swing of things, we’ve put together some tips for staying healthy and productive when working from home.

Get dressed

Hear the words ‘remote working’ and you might automatically think ‘pyjama day!’. However, studies have shown that staying in your dressing gown while you work from home saps productivity, as your brain hasn’t made the transition from sleeping/relaxing to work mode.

Just as you would if you were going into the office, get a shower, brush your teeth and change your clothes. It doesn't have to be a business suit, just something that you don’t associate with lounging around at home all day.

Set rules

If you live with other people, let them know what hours you’ll be working, and when they’re allowed to disturb you if needed. Obviously these rules are a lot trickier to enforce if you have children, so be realistic and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get as much done as you’d hoped.

Ask for what you need

Don’t try and make do with your 10-year old personal laptop that takes five minutes to load a web page. Ask your company to provide the hardware and software that you need to be able to do your work efficiently.

Depending on your role and home working environment, the equipment your company needs to provide could extend to a phone, printer, office supplies and even a desk and/or chair.

Have a dedicated work space

Try to create a designated area in your home to be your ‘office’. If you’re lucky enough to have a room with a door, you’ll be able to set all your equipment up just the way you like it. If your options are more limited, try and pick a place that is separate from your home life - the unused end of your dining table, for example.

This will help to create a distinction in your mind between ‘home’ and ‘office’ so that you can properly log off and relax at the end of the day.

Create a checklist

At the start of each day, set out a realistic list of goals that you’d like to achieve, prioritising the biggest and most important first. Then work through them, ticking them off as you go.

Having a clear sense of what you’ve already achieved and what still needs to be done will help to focus your mind and create a clear structure to follow through the day.

Meal prep

When you’re at home and have your own kitchen at your disposal, it might be tempting to knock up a two-course lunch that involves chopping, frying and taking up more than your allotted break time.

Try to get into the habit of preparing your lunch the night before so that you have something ready instantly when you get hungry. Meal prepping will also help you to avoid unhealthy snacking, which is a vice that many remote workers fall into.

Do what works for you

One of the best things about working from home is its flexibility - you dictate your own schedule. If you find that you work better in short bursts instead of solid hours spent in front of the computer, go with it. If you prefer working in the evenings when the kids have gone to bed, do that.

As long as you’re putting the hours in, you’re available for work calls and your sleep schedule is still healthy, there’s nothing tying you to the standard 9-5 if it doesn’t work for you.

Switch it up

When you’re on a roll with a project, you might be sat in the same position for an extended period of time, which isn’t good for your body. Make sure to get up and move around at regular intervals, even if it’s just to stretch or make a cup of tea.

If possible, switch between working on your computer and doing some filing, making telephone or video calls and doing some writing by hand. Staring at a screen can strain your eyes, making you less alert and more sleepy.

Get outside

At least once a day - maybe in your lunch break, or after you finish working - make sure you leave your home. Try to find some green space nearby, or simply just walk to a shop to get supplies.

New surroundings and fresh air will help to reboot your brain, taking it out of work mode temporarily and allowing new thought processes to form. Getting outside can encourage better ideas and boost creativity.

Stay communicative

Remote work can sometimes feel isolating, especially if you live alone. If you need to talk to a colleague or manager, choose a phone call over sending an email. Have some social conversation over messaging apps such as Slack, and be sure to make time to see friends and family outside of working hours.

It’s important to communicate and to maintain social connections to avoid your mood dipping and to keep mentally and emotionally healthy.

Allow some distractions

We’re not machines; we can’t work solidly for eight hours a day with just an hour for lunch without going a bit crazy.

Just as you’d chat to colleagues at points throughout the day, allow yourself a conversation with those you live with or have a browse on social media without feeling guilty. It’ll help to keep your energy and concentration levels up - just make sure not to get sucked in!

Check in with yourself

Each day, take some time to do a mental scan of how your mind and body feel. Do you have everything you need to be comfortable? Do you feel motivated and prepared for the day, or are you suffering with low moods and difficulty concentrating?

If you feel like you’re struggling, make sure you talk to someone at work. Your employer has a responsibility to make reasonable adjustments to make your situation easier. If you’re suffering from sustained periods of poor mental health, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor.

The need to talk

In today’s uncertain Coronavirus climate and the tech-driven world we live in, it’s quite feasible to avoid a voice conversation with another human but talking remains of fundamental importance.

Team LVP might be working remotely but please do get in touch, we’re still here for you 8-6pm, Monday-Friday. We’re in this together, so to help us all navigate through these uncertain times please do keep in touch, we’d love to hear from you!