How Let’s Connect have worked through lockdown
5 great tips to help you work from home successfully
2021 wasn’t quite the fresh start to the year we were all hoping for, with the UK almost immediately being placed into another national lockdown. Over the last year, the pandemic has forced businesses to find new ways of operating, with lots of employees working from home in unfamiliar territories.
At first it sounds like a great idea – not having to get up quite as early, no getting stuck in traffic on your commute to the office and being able to stay in comfy clothes for as long as you like (or at least until that important video call), but as you may have discovered yourself, it takes a bit of getting used to and it’s not without its challenges. Communicating with your colleagues suddenly becomes more difficult, the IT guy isn’t right there to help fix your computer issues and it can be hard to focus when you’re surrounded by distractions.
We asked our team at Let’s Connect to use their own experiences of the last few months and come up with some top tips on how they are working from home effectively and this is what they had to say…
No. 1 Find yourself a dedicated workspace
While it might be tempting to switch on your laptop and begin working whilst still lying in your bed or on the sofa, it is best practise to avoid doing so. These spaces are associated with rest and relaxation and it’s important to maintain a healthy boundary between work and home life.
If you don’t have a home office, try creating a dedicated space in the corner of the dining room or somewhere else in the house that you can call your workstation and when in that space, you’re purely focused on work.
If you do find yourself having to work at the kitchen table, try shutting your laptop off at the end of the day and putting it out of sight, so that you’re not walking past it all evening, thinking about emails and unfinished jobs.
“When I first started working from home, I fell in to the habit of working on the sofa with the TV on in the background, but found I was easily distracted and unfocussed. Since setting up my own little work area in the corner of my bedroom, I’ve been much more productive!”
Charlie-Louise, Client Services Assistant Manager
No. 2 Communication is Key
Communicating effectively with your team has always been important, but maybe now even more so. With employees spread across the country, gone are the days where you can just nip across the office to ask your colleague a question and what should be a 2-minute job, is now taking a bit longer.
Apps such as Slack or Microsoft Teams are great for instant messaging and help make conversations between co-workers more efficient than sending multiple emails. They also allow for video calls and virtual team meetings, as let’s face it, it’s much easier to talk to someone face-to-face than having your message get lost in translation via email.
And also, remember that working from home can make employees feel quite isolated and lonely, which can have a negative impact on their mental wellbeing. Check in on your colleagues and make time to ask them how they are doing or what they got up to at the weekend – just because you’re not in the office doesn’t mean you can’t have the usual morning catch ups.
“My role in winning new business requires me to be out on the road most days, so I was already accustomed to remote working, however over the last 12 months it’s been great to see how the business has adapted and found new ways to collaborate and keep us all in the loop. Communication with colleagues and the wider business is vital, so although sending an email might be easier, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and have a chat.”
Philip Scott, Business Development Manager
No. 3 Take regular breaks
It’s so important to take regular breaks from your work. Get up and stretch those legs and give your eyes a few minutes rest from looking at a screen. It’s also a great opportunity to refocus, especially when there’s a lot going on. Try and get outside if you can too, maybe a lunchtime run or a walk with the dog. Fresh air and natural sunlight are great for relieving stress and the change of scenery can help boost creativity and productivity, plus a bit of exercise never hurt anyone.
“My advice for people working from home would be to not be afraid to take regular breaks. If you were in the office you’d be getting up to talk to colleagues, fetching stuff from the printer, making a tea round etc and it’s just as important to take a break and refocus now you’re at home.”
Richard Lenton, IT and Product Manager
No. 4 Make sure you have the right equipment
When the first lockdown came into effect in March last year, like a lot of you, I grabbed my laptop and a few other essential items from my desk and headed home, expecting this to only last a couple months. Almost a full year later and I’m still working from my dining table using a couple of old board games as a laptop stand.
Remote working is very much set to stay, even beyond the end of the pandemic and businesses appear to be more open to this idea of flexible working, so investing in the right equipment is a must. Maybe it’s a second monitor to save you from squinting at your laptop screen, or a comfier desk chair to help ease back pain, whatever it may be, I assure you it’s worth it in the long run. Remember, you will be working in this space every day, and so it needs to be comfy and fit for your needs personally and for work.
Purchasing a new laptop or home computer can be costly, however some companies offer salary sacrifice benefits such as a Home Technology scheme, which is a great way for employees to get the latest tech and spread the cost through their salary, helping to manage those finances.
“At the beginning of the first lockdown I was working at my kitchen table with my laptop balanced on a stack of old board games. As the weeks went by, I realised my set-up wasn’t practical and I’ve since purchased a new laptop stand and a second monitor through our company Technology scheme, so now it’s just like I’m in the office – without any of my colleagues or the much needed coffee machine of course”
Greg Ward, Marketing Executive
No. 5 Avoid work creep
Working from home can be invasive on your person life, but only if you allow it! Without the commute home from the office, you may find yourself working an extra five or ten minutes to finish what you’re doing, which is fine every now and then, but don’t let it become a habit. Be strict with yourself – set work hours and stick to them each day. When work is over, shut your laptop and turn off any notifications or emails on your phone – you can deal with them tomorrow.
If you use the same laptop for work as you do for your personal time, then creating a separate user account might be a good way to create that divide.
“Make sure you find a way to switch off at the end of the day and don’t let your work carry over into your personal time. It’s so easy when an email appears in your inbox at 8pm to think I’ll just reply to that quickly, but try and resist – it can wait until the morning.”
Rebecca Parkes, Customer Engagement Advisor
If you’d like more information on running a Let’s Connect Technology Benefit for your organisation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Our expert team will be only too happy to help and we can have your new benefit up and running in just a few weeks. Call one of our Employee Benefit Consultants today on 0330 2000 231 or email [email protected]
We look forward to hearing from you.
The Let’s Connect Team