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JMS produces useful guide to working from home

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, many businesses have been forced to implement mandatory work from home policies.  For many of us, this means dealing with the unusual challenge of working from for the first time.

We are now asking our employees to be just as productive, but without their normal resources and routines, and while working from home sounds like an indulgence, it quickly becomes apparent that for most, it’s no holiday, and being productive is easier said than done.

According to Andy Kenyon, Director of JMS Engineering in Leicester and ProCon member, the key to success during this lockdown period is finding and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. And whilst Andy understands that everyone needs to find their own customised solution, here he sets out some practical issues and considerations around homeworking during the coronavirus outbreak.   

  • Maintain Regular Hours - Set a schedule and try to stick to it. Having clear guidelines for when to work and when to call it a day helps many home workers to maintain a healthy work-life balance. That said, in the current circumstances, you may sometimes need to extend your day or start early to accommodate someone else's timeframes. When you do, be sure to wrap up earlier than usual or sleep in a bit the next morning. Installing an automatic time-tracking app, such as RescueTime, can help you to keep track of how well you're sticking to your schedule.
  • Create a Morning Routine - Deciding you will sit down at your desk and start work at a certain time is one thing. Creating a routine that guides you into the chair is another. What in your morning routine delineates the start of work? It might be making a cup of coffee. It might be returning home after a jog. Create a morning routine that ends with you starting work.
  • Set Ground Rules - Set ground rules with the people in your home for when you work. If you have children at home while you're working, you should try to implement some rules around the hours you're working.
  • Schedule Breaks – Make sure you take regular breaks and take time away from your screen for lunch. You can use an app, such as TimeOut for Mac and Smart Break for Windows, to lock yourself out of your computer for 60 minutes. Or you can just launch a simple clock or timer on the screen when you take a break. 
  • Leave Home - Leave your house/flat at least once a day. Your body needs to move. Plus, the fresh air and natural light will do you good. Talk a walk, while respecting social distancing guidelines, mow the lawn?
  • Ask for what you need - It is important that you will ask for what you need to get your job done.
  • Allocate a dedicated office area - In an ideal world, remote employees would have a dedicated office, but this is not always possible. Instead, dedicate an area to work use.
  • Socialise with colleagues - Loneliness, disconnect, and isolation are common problems in remote work life, especially for extroverts. Book out that 11am slot in your diary and connect with your colleagues on MS teams.
  • Join in with virtual meetings - Certainly, you'll take part in video conferences and conference calls, but it's a good idea to attend optional meetings sometimes, too. Be sure to speak up during the meeting so everyone knows you're on the call.
  • Take Sick Days - When you're ill, take the sick time you need. You will find that you're more productive in the long run if you let your body rest when it's unwell
  • Overcommunicate - Working remotely requires you to overcommunicate. Tell everyone who needs to know about your schedule and availability often. When you finish a project or important task, say so. 
  • Be Positive – We all like succinct and clear messages, but the less face time we have with people, the less they know how to interpret our tone. When you work remotely full-time, you must be positive, to the point where it may feel like you're being overly positive. 
  • Take Advantage of Your Perks – Wear your slippers, stroke the cat, bake a cake. Why? Because you can, and you enjoy it. Working from home comes with unique perks. Take advantage of them. You deserve it.
  • End your day with a routine - Just as you should start your day with a routine, create a habit that signals the close of the workday. It might be a wrap up email to your manager,  or switching on a tv show. Whatever you choose, do it consistently to mark the end of working hours.
  • Do what works for you - Above all else, figure out what works best for you. Sometimes the answer is apparent, but other times you might need some inspiration from other people who are in the same boat.

Ultimately, it's about experimenting and adapting. We can, and should, look at it as an opportunity to learn - hopefully this will help you to stay sane, stay positive and stay connected as we navigate through this.


 

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