Tips for working from home

By Kelly Byleveld

Senior Manager; People, Talent and Culture

Like all new things, working remotely from home can take some getting used to, especially during this time of great uncertainty and worry.

The following information was provided to Therapy Focus staff to help them prepare to work remotely during the coronavirus outbreak. And with offices now closing across the country and more people working from home, we wanted to share these tips with our community to help you prepare also.

Create a workspace

The first step is to assign an area in your home as your designated workspace. Your workspace doesn’t have to be a home office but should be a designated area that allows you to prepare for work mode mentally. It could be a separate room, a small desk set up in the corner of the living room, or one end of your kitchen table. Get set up as if you were in the office – as best you can.

Set a plan or routine

Try to start work around the same time every day (if you can) and set a daily work schedule. Plan out your day’s work, listing what you hope to achieve, book any meetings or conference calls, and schedule breaks throughout the day (more on this later). Setting goals is a great way to stay focused and monitor your work output.

Dress the part

To keep a sense of routine, try to get dressed for work and do so around the same time every day. Even though pyjamas might seem like a great benefit of working at home, getting changed out of them can help you set clear boundaries between work time and leisure time. This will help with your work mindset, and you’ll be prepared for any surprise video conferencing calls!

Stay in touch

While working from home is a breeze for some, others may find it very challenging at first. Working from home is isolating, which can have an effect on your mental health. Be sure to regularly check in with your manager and reach out to your colleagues for a chat from time to time to help reduce the anxiety, loneliness or frustration you might be experiencing.

When physically distant, it’s harder to synchronise expectations. It’s also easier to let dissatisfaction fester – and that’s true for both managers and employees. Therefore teams must often be communicating. This ensures that everyone knows what’s expected of them and by what standards their work is being assessed. Continue to set deadlines and schedule regular catch-ups with your manager (i.e. weekly or fortnightly) to keep everyone on the same page and working toward the same goals.

Keep focused

When working from home, be aware of domestic duties interfering with your work. Don’t procrastinate about work tasks by doing some housework. Equally, don’t let work take over your home life. Make sure you have your lunch break and finish work when you usually would.

Take breaks

Take regular breaks, but schedule them into your day if possible. It is essential to make time to get up and walk away from your desk at regular intervals to stretch your legs. Go for a stroll and breathe in the fresh air – even if it’s only in your backyard.

Check ergonomics

In addition to taking regular breaks, you must make sure your workspace is set up in the most ergonomically friendly way. Use the image below to help set up your workspace. You may have to get creative and use books as screen raisers, and footrests if needed – they will do the job just fine!

Diagram of an ergonomic work station

  1. Feet flat on the floor
  2. Backrest supporting the lumbar area
  3. Sufficient legroom under desk
  4. Thighs parallel to the floor
  5. Upper arm at a right angle to lower arm.
  6. Neutral wrist position
  7. Top of the monitor at or slightly below eye level
  8. Monitor at arm’s length distance

Also, ensure that your work area is well-lit, so you don’t strain your eyes. We recommend the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes look away from your screen and focus your eyes on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

It may not be possible to set up your workspace precisely as above, but try your hardest to get it as comfortable and ergonomically correct as possible. Don’t work from your couch or your back and neck will be killing you by day 3!

Limit distractions

Make sure everyone in your family (kids, parents, spouses, housemates etc.) know that when you’re working, you’re not available. This means no looking after the kids while trying to work. Establish and stick to clear boundaries for when you are and aren’t available. This is not always easy, but setting these boundaries and a routine will set you up for success in the long run.

Get the tools you need

Ensure you have the equipment and technology you’ll need to work efficiently from home. Please talk with your Manager or IT department about taking home equipment and devices such as tablets, laptops, monitors, a keyboard and/or mouse. You will be much more productive and efficient if you have the tools you need.

Want more information?

Learn about our response to COVID-19 and the measures we’ve taken to protect our community of staff, customers and partners.