In order to be able to serve your teams as a leader, you need to ensure that you yourself have taken care of your own well-being and that you are working effectively. The analogy of the fitting your own oxygen mask in the event of an airline emergency is well documented, but easily forgotten in our day-to-day efforts to look after our team members.
The first step in working effectively from home requires some thought around:
- Setting up your environment
- Managing your time and structuring your day
- Working around the challenges of family members sharing your workspace
- Maintaining boundaries between work and the rest of your life
Are you sitting comfortably? Then let us begin. As many of us ‘part time’ homeworkers are finding, it’s one thing to be home-based once or twice a week, and quite another to experience it for a prolonged period of time.
In this article we will focus on optimising your home workspace – whatever form it takes.
Setting up your environment
Some people may be lucky enough to have a dedicated spare room that they can use as an office, but others may be more limited. They may be setting up a permanent workspace in a shared area or they may have to set their workspace up each day. We are governed to a certain extent by the living situation that we have, but there are ways we can work with this.
- Adequate lighting is important. If you can be near natural light, that’s best, but otherwise make sure your internal lighting is sufficient to prevent eye strain or low mood. Make sure your computer will be positioned to avoid glare on the screen.
- Ensure you’re near a power supply or that you have an extension cable to allow you to safely plug in your equipment. You might also like to think about your internet connection; can you use a wired connection (this may be more reliable) or, if you’re using your wi-fi, is coverage consistent across your home?
- Make sure you select a good seat and set yourself up appropriately to avoid musculoskeletal issues (there is a great guide from BackCare).
- Think about the noise levels during the day both from those sharing the house and from the outside world. If your role involves confidential conversations, you will want to consider having your working space set up in an area of the house where you can be private if you need to.
- Make sure your workspace is free from clutter, particularly clutter from your family/home life as this can distract you, for example if you can see the washing basket from your workstation and it’s overflowing, this might be a distraction; 10% of people already working remotely said distractions at home were their biggest challenge*.
- It’s great if you can invest in new furniture, such as a new drop-down desk that you can close each night, but you can also get creative with what you have, for example, can you move a bookshelf to partition a living space into office and home?
- As far as possible, delineate your workspace from your family/home time. If you have a dedicated room you can use, then you can simply shut the door. If you don’t, then try to screen off the space if you want it to remain a permanent feature, or put your work completely away at the end of the day and turn it back into living space. If you can constantly see your laptop and pile of papers while trying to relax, you may find it harder to switch off.
Look out for our next post in the series: Managing your time and structuring your day.