Working from home has helped many small business owners adapt to the challenges posed by Covid-19 – but that can lead to physical and mental challenges. Kathryn Jackson outlines how to make it work effectively.
More small business owners are working from home in response to lockdown, and as a way to operate within social distancing measures, and many are planning to do so beyond the pandemic.
With this transition taking place for many of us, it is important to be in good shape, both physically and mentally, in order to maintain optimal wellbeing. Feeling disconnected from colleagues and employees can leave some of us struggling and have an adverse effect on our usual level of productivity.
However, working remotely isn’t all bad – in fact, many of us prefer it, which makes us happier and find we are being more productive during the challenges that the global pandemic have brought.
The stigma associated with working from home prior to Covid-19 has disappeared. And working remotely is now extremely common, even if this is often under very difficult conditions. The following tips will help you make working from home work for you:
1. Get the right workspace set-up
While you may want to sit on the sofa with one eye on the TV, your remote workspace still requires a set-up that looks after you. Consider your desk surface – does it give support to your laptops and other equipment you are using? Once you have a supportive desk, a comfortable chair that is set at the appropriate height will minimise neck and back pain, which over time can cause back complaints and affect your wellbeing. Take a moment to look around you – adding a pop of colour to what may be dull walls, bringing a plant into your room to connect with nature or opening a window occasionally can make a big difference to how you feel.
2 Develop a flexible routine
You know it’s important to stay flexible when it comes to your fitness, but do you create flexibility for yourself when working at home? While it is important to have a work routine, building breathing room into it and breaking up your day by going for a short walk, popping in a load of washing or getting the vacuum out can be important in maintaining your wellbeing. The human body is not designed to sit for long periods
of time and in our normal office environment you are more likely to move around, so explore ways you can move around your home and build in the odd break. This can improve your focus and productivity.
3 Manage meetings
Many of us find ourselves in back-to-back meetings all day, which doesn’t allow us time to debrief, reflect or prepare for the next meeting – and can have an effect on our wellbeing and productivity. Whether you’re a meeting facilitator or attendee, consider how many of your meetings are essential or whether they could be shortened by 10 minutes so you can have an all-important break, get some fresh air and walk around.
4 Stay in touch
Are you regularly connecting with colleagues or others? When working remotely,
it’s easy to become isolated and miss vital social interaction. But technology now allows us to engage people anywhere through messaging, calls or videoconferencing. Making time for yourself and others to engage promotes participation and conversation that helps combat any isolation you or your colleagues may be feeling. Explore what works for you – being on videoconferences all day may get overwhelming, while a telephone call allows you to walk around and get away from your desk.
5 Prioritise tasks
Many of us are tempted to put off the hardest job until later. Procrastination can create stress and often means that when you finally do the task, it may not be your best work. Commit yourself to taking on the hardest job at the start of the day and reap the rewards of your achievements throughout the day. Other jobs will be easy in comparison!
6 Look after yourself
If you’re anything like me, at times it’s been easy to ‘throw in the towel’ when it comes to those healthy habits you’d adopted. Good habits of eating healthily and taking regular exercise contribute to your mental health, too.
Regular exercise for just 20-30 minutes a day boosts our brains with the chemicals (serotonin and endorphins) we need to make us happy, which in turn will reduce our anxiety levels. Also consider the food you are eating and when you are eating it, monitoring any dips in your energy levels. Adjusting this can aid your self-care and boost your wellbeing.