Working from home used to be a rarity for most. Once the occupation of freelancers and artists, remote working was a non-entity for most people. Office life was the regular routine, and while many people enjoyed that bustling atmosphere, others wished they could work from the comfort of their kitchen. It seems like an idyllic dream-world: waking up and staying in your pyjamas, padding around in your slippers, sitting at your laptop with your home-brewed coffee in hand. Replacing your hectic commute with a simple few steps down your staircase and not having to iron your shirt every night sounds like heaven, right?
But like most things, the seemingly dreamy lifestyle of remote working is not all it seems. The grass is always greener on the other side, and once you find yourself in the land of working from home, it might not be as perfect as you thought. Sure, the pros are easy to come up with – the pyjama life, embracing your inner introvert, avoiding crammed trains – but there are definite cons to working from home. Many people are finding themselves in a quagmire of dishes, plagued by laziness and wishing they could be back at the office.
Plus, of course, we’re all doing it nowadays. The COVID-19 outbreak has led to most office workers packing up their desks and heading home. For those unused to the home-working lifestyle, this might have seemed great but turned quickly into a quarantine nightmare. When you’re used to having your boss just six feet away, checking up on you and keeping you motivated throughout the day, home working can become a sluggish alternative. You might find yourself comfortable, relaxed and happy – exactly what you don’t want to be if you’re new to the job, or going up for a promotion.
Office life might be stressful at times, but at least the energy is always high. As an entry-level worker, you still want to do your best to impress and show yourself off. From home, this seems impossible – but never fear! Read on and you’ll find yourself bossing it in no time. Here are six ways to keep impressing, even from your sofa.
Going through the motions
Just because you’re at home, doesn’t mean you have to act like it. Doing quite the opposite is one way to shake the laziness of working at home. Going to work in your dressing gown and slippers might be more comfortable – who’s going to know, right? – but after a while, you’ll find yourself losing your grip between chill time and work time. Even if you don’t have to, get yourself dressed in at least a casual shirt and jeans. That small step in your morning routine will make a considerable difference to how you feel.
Similarly, keeping yourself hygienic, well-groomed and showered will bring your mojo back. Sure, it might be easy to skip brushing your teeth or leave your bedhead to do its thing, but in the end, you will feel worse for it. That doesn’t mean you have to do a full blowdry and stage makeup every morning! Just make a small effort, and it’ll add fuel to your fire.
Of course, presentation is of utmost importance for video conferences. Showing up to your online meeting in a t-shirt stained with homemade hummus might not exactly fit the bill. Going the extra mile by looking sharp, even when you’re at home, is notable.
Step in time, and watch the clock
Although it’ll be tempting to sleep in and catch up your lost time later – DON’T! Your home is your relaxation station, so when you bring work into the mix, confusing the two is not a good idea. Although you’re still at home, act as if you’re at the office. Start your day at the same time you usually would, and clock off at the same time too. Take a lunch break, a proper one, where you switch off your device, eat a meal and go outside for a few minutes. Keep your meals as meals, not a constant biscuit graze throughout the day (and we all know how tempting that is!).
One useful way to keep yourself in check is to use an online schedule. A Resource Scheduling programme will keep your routine as a routine. Plus, you can share it with your colleagues, making sure you stay in sync with each other. A lack of face to face contact might make your fellow employees seem distant, so sharing a schedule like this can bring you all together again. Plus, you can show the boss how much you care by staying time-efficient!
Organise your space
At work, your desk is your space to organise – while small, it might make the difference between a productive day and a chaotic one. Home-working is no different. While it’s tempting to lie covered in crumbs on your messy sofa while balancing your laptop on a plate of toast and marmalade, this won’t reflect well in your work. Creating a space which makes you feel calm and organised will have incredible effects on your concentration and motivation. If you’re not lucky enough to have a home office, find a space that isn’t in your bedroom in which to work. Bedrooms should be chill zones only! Set up an area that’s just designated for work, like your desk at the office, and use it only during working hours. This will not only help separate work and life, but it’ll help you focus on your tasks.
An easy way to keep your lovely, neat space intact is to be strict about your mess. If you’ve got an empty coffee cup, clear it away. If post-its, print-outs and notepads overwhelm you, create a system for them. Buy a few houseplants! Houseplants are a beautiful, calming addition to your workspace! Plus, many of them are air-purifying, leaving the room feeling fresh and breathable. Spending an extra five minutes per day cleaning up your work area will be super satisfying and add a definite spring to your step.
Then, of course, there are those dreaded video chats. Remote meetings are stressful enough without being chastised for having a messy background. Do yourself a simple favour and ensure you have a bright background behind you. If your workspace is visible in your video chat, ensure you’ve got it organised.
Be strict with your co-habitants
This is a tricky one. If you live with other people, chances are you want to have a good relationship with them. Whether it’s a partner, a set of housemates or your mum and dad, falling out during quarantine is not what anyone wants. However, being a household pushover will not help your work life. Finding the balance between being strict and not being a total nightmare housemate is a struggle, but you must be firm about your working hours. If you find that others aren’t respecting your space or time while you’re “at work”, make sure to address it with them calmly.
Working from home is not easy when everyone’s schedules do not match up. Some people might work in the evenings, while others during the day, proving challenging when needs and moods conflict. Nevertheless, being transparent and honest about your working needs will undoubtedly result in a happier remote working life for everyone.
Get your blood pumping
Just because gyms are closed, doesn’t mean you can’t work out. You’d have to be living under a rock not to notice the number of online workouts that have popped up since COVID-19 came along. Being at home all day doesn’t exactly make you feel pumped up and energised, so you’ve got to create that for yourself. Showing up for yourself is vital at the moment, and your body deserves to move. Arriving into your working day full of energy and raring to go will make you noticeably more awake, motivated and confident.
There are so many great workouts to try; it’ll be impressive to begin a new skill. Finding new ways to self-improve even in a standstill time will earn you extra credit with your colleagues. Working on yourself is a great way to show your boss that you’re a dedicated person, willing to do the work required to achieve your goals.
Besides, using your lockdown exercise freedoms is the perfect way to retain sanity. If you’re an extrovert who finds home working a real challenge, getting outside for a walk or run and seeing others, even from a distance, will ameliorate your cabin fever.
Whether it’s your dream or your nightmare, home working is our current reality. Whatever your feelings about working remotely, trying to impress your company from afar can be a real source of stress. Taking the opportunity to make these small changes will not only help you feel better, but it’ll also palpably change your attitude. Standing out means thinking outside the box and taking the initiative when others might not.