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Working from Home

 

Working from Home during the Coronavirus Crisis:

How to work effectively and avoid family conflict

 

Enforced Home-working.  If you have suddenly found yourself working from home as a result of the Coronavirus crisis, you may well be experiencing challenges in getting it right and being able to work effectively.   So what can you do to help yourself?  Well, firstly, let’s look at the situation of people who have chosen to work from home and have been doing it for some time, just to provide a comparison.

Regular Home-Workers.  For people used to working from home, the many benefits that it offers are very welcome.  This is especially true of family care responsibilities as you can combine work and family in one location.  As for work space, some may be lucky enough to have a dedicated study whilst others may convert a spare bedroom into a home office or set aside an area of their home for work.  Employers may provide the equipment needed for home working including a separate phone line and internet connection.  People working in these conditions often speak of the flexibility that it offers them whilst it also enables them to avoid commuting.

Your Reality?  So, does the picture of domestic bliss painted above of a happy combination of home and work apply to you?  More likely, you may be struggling to find a space where you can work effectively and, having found that space, realise that it normally gets used for something else, so things have to be changed or moved.  As if that wasn’t enough, your partner and children may also be at home so you could now be sharing that precious space.  Let’s look at how you can make the best of your situation. 

What should you do?

Work Requirements

  • Check what your employer wants / expects of you whilst working from home.
  • Clarify expected working hours and required availability.
  • Identify & try to resolve conflicts with child care or other caring responsibilities.
  • If necessary, discuss flexibility with employer to avoid domestic duties conflict.

Work Support

In the current crisis, your employer may not be able to do or provide as much as you or they might want.  Generally, they will try to help you set up as much as they can but it’s extremely unlikely that they will have been storing IT or telephone equipment just for this crisis so it may be necessary for you to use workarounds and to make do with what you have / is available, at least in the initial stages.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Check what help and support is available to you from your organisation.
  • Ask your employer to provide equipment that you may need, where available.
  • If you have access to IT support, seek their help as needed.
  • Remember that support functions may be overloaded so try to be patient.
  • Whilst always staying safe, try to solve set-up issues yourself.
  • Let your employer know about any set-up difficulties that you cannot resolve.

Work space

  • Ideally, use the dedicated study in your home.  Problem solved!
  • Alternatively, adapt an unused or lightly used room to be your office space.
  • If you have children at home, try to give them another area for their use.
  • Try to work near the internet router and connect directly via an Ethernet cable.
  • Alternatively, use an area with good Wi-Fi coverage (or get a Wi-Fi booster).
  • Use a chair that provides good support for your posture.
  • Ensure you have enough electrical power outlets for your various devices.
  • Keep your devices charged to avoid interruptions.
  • Position cables so as to avoid tripping and don’t overload electrical outlets.
  • Take care not to create other health and safety hazards with your work set-up.
  • Check that your insurance covers you for working at home.

Sharing a space

 If you are sharing working space with others:

  • Agree how you will share the space by setting some ground rules.
  • Be considerate of the other person and ask them to do the same.
  • Try not to talk over each other when on the phone.
  • When sharing, don’t use the loudspeaker function.
  • Help each other if / when problems arise and seek help from others if needed.
  • Don’t let work differences in the shared spaced affect your relationships.

Routines

It can be difficult to focus on work when others are around and work time can easily impose on family time and vice versa. 

In order to achieve balance:

  • Set and stick to standard hours of work, agreed with your Line Manager.
  • Inform your family / others with whom you share when you will be working.
  • Plan your work just as you would do at your normal workplace.
  • Stay connected to your boss / colleagues with regular calls / virtual meetings.
  • Get up from your seat regularly, move around, stretch and get some air.
  • Have proper breaks just as you would at your normal workplace.
  • When your working time for the day is finished, turn off you work devices.
  • Find / do non-work activities that you can enjoy during the Covid-19 crisis.

 

 

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