Working from home
6 tried and tested home working tips
The Covid-19 lockdown is forcing many of us to work from home. But how do you focus when your kids are squabbling, your colleagues are away from you and you may be worried about getting sick yourself?
Connect Assist’s helplines are vital in times of crisis, so we have well-rehearsed business continuity plans in place to enable our advisors to continue to offer empathy and expertise to vulnerable callers.
In fact, many of our advisors worked remotely even before the Covid-19 crisis, using secure communications platforms and cloud based CRM systems to do their jobs effectively.
We’d like to draw on our experience to offer you our top six home-working tips.
1. Be prepared
The Covid-19 crisis is unprecedented and a shock to all of us. Planning ahead is key here..
We started drawing up our response plans to Covid-19 in January and we are “fortunate” (depending on how you look at it) that we have experience of home working during previous weather crises.
Snowstorms in 2018 and flooding in early 2020 gave us the chance to start adapting practically and psychologically to remote working.
2. Stay connected
Technology allows us to work in isolation. We have the technology platforms in place to enable our teams to run our multichannel helplines from home, supporting vulnerable people who need advice now more than ever.
Technology can also help us stay connected as teams. At Connect Assist, we’re using Microsoft Teams for work-related issues, and to boost staff morale through chats, quizzes and fun competitions.
3. Keep in a routine
It’s tempting to let schedules slip – but inadvisable. While you may have to adapt your working day to accommodate childcare and other issues, it’s helpful to make a timetable and stick to it.
Brian Millington, one of our benefits, debt and money advisors who always works remotely, advises that you think of your home working space as you do your office.
He asks: “Would you go to work in your pyjamas every day? You need to be self-disciplined and dress for work.”
Schedule in regular breaks, and take them away from your screen.
4. Minimise distractions
This is easier said than done if your children are off school but find the quietest corner in your home, shut the cat out of the room, and tell older children that you are not to be disturbed during working hours.
Brian suggests leaving your mobile phone outside your “office”, so you can hear important calls but aren’t distracted by frequent pings.
He says: “Outside noise is a hazard of home working. This can be neighbours shouting at kids, or shouting at each other over the kids!”
5. Think about security
Technology means that you can do your job remotely yet securely. But in every secure system, the weakest link is the people who use it.
Brian says: “Make sure that nobody can see your screen, especially if you’re by a window, and always lock your computer when you leave it unattended.”
6. Look after your health
Follow the latest health guidelines for Covid-19, such as regular handwashing for 20 seconds. Go outside once a day for exercise unless you’re extremely vulnerable.
Look after yourself while working too. Avoid repetitive strain injuries by making sure your chair, desk and computer are positioned correctly.
Look away from the screen regularly to rest your eyes, get up from time to time to stretch your legs, drink plenty of water – and don’t overdo the snacks!
And take care of your mental health too. If you’re struggling with isolation, or worried about Covid-19’s effect on your family or your future, don’t be ashamed to ask your employer, friends or relatives for help.
You could contact our Mind helpline too, or one of the industry-specific helplines we run.
If we pull together, we can get through this. Stay safe!