If coronavirus means you have to work from home, here are some essential tips

Coronavirus has meant loads of people are now working from home to limit contact with one another, especially in places where at least one person has tested positive for COVID-19.

For some people working from home will be nothing new.

With the precariousness of the current health climate, we don’t know how long this lockdown will be for.

That means we must be prepared and equipped with healthy work environments.

If you’ve never had the chance to work from home then listen to the veterans in the field. We chatted to freelancers who’ve worked from home for long periods of time, from five to 15 years, so they know what’s optimum.

As tempting as it might be to answer those emails and go about your day from the comfort of your bed, almost everyone we spoke to warned against it.

So what other practices should you be doing? Here are some tips from people who regularly work from home:

Have regular breaks and change the scene if you can. Check in with friends, have good food in.

Have a routine. It can be really lonely and a procrastinating dream – housework can seem really interesting at times.

Get some exercise – get out first thing for a walk, as you may get consumed by the day.

Set up an office space if you can, rather than just working at the kitchen table.

Dress for work – wear what you’d normally wear rather than your PJs.

Don’t watch any TV during the day, not even lunchtime.

Have a regular lunch hour and take it away from your desk. Go out if you can, even if it’s to run an errand.

Call people rather than just email to avoid feeling isolates.

Log out of social media if you can or have set time limits on it.

Have a designated workspace, have a schedule, hide the remote, take regular breaks, reach out to friends for a chat and get some fresh air.

It’s important to get up and walk around once in a while.

Have a spreadsheet of weekly to-do lists and aim to finish by the end of your usual work hours.

Have a walk every morning before doing any work.

Take lunch away from your computer.

Have a WhatsApp group of other people working from home – it’s your own version of office chat.

Get up super early (like 5am) and aim to finish at like 3. You’ll get so much done, with lots of free time to do stuff at the end. Also napping is a huge thing, every day make half an hour for a nap.

Leave the housework or do it the night before so it’s not on your mind in the morning.

Let family and friends know you’re working and be really strict with it – it’s amazing how people think you can just drop everything when you’re WFH.

No snacks! Have a big breakfast, and an early lunch if needs be.

Set defined working hours – stick to them.

Have a dedicated office for ‘work from home’ time. Don’t work in the lounge, the dining room. Make sure you dedicate space to it. And close the door!

Use ‘focus’ music with decent headphones for school holidays when the house is noisy.

Socialise as much as possible online – share hobbies, loves and passions with other people who WFH or your community, so you don’t get lonely.

Keep a clear calendar and many lists.

Get the house in order first thing as you wouldn’t work in a messy environment in any other circumstances.

Keep a very clear list of invoices, what’s coming and what’s been paid.

Give yourself a morning ‘commute’ – this could be the school run or a dog walk.

Don’t underestimate investing a decent chair; your back and neck will thank you in the long run.

If you’re a couple working from home, don’t just expect the woman to make lunch, make it together/rotate or order take out.

Join a virtual community. You have all the camaraderie of ‘colleagues’, but with no office politics or boss.

Set yourself time slots – e.g. 30 minutes to do something, otherwise you will get distracted and end up achieving little. You can use apps for this or set a timer on your phone.

Are you working from home? Show us your set-up by emailing [email protected].

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