Given the isolation and homeworking that is now being encouraged due to current crisis (March 2020), a friend and screenwriter posted some advice which reminded me to do the same (thanks, Nicky). Originally, I couldn’t get to this blog – a very strange affair – but it’s now been sorted.
I work at home, and have done so on and off for decades. At first it was to have quality time to design or write before returning into the office, or managing staff who were doing the same, then in a home office, then later it was because I have to due to pain management. What follows is based on that experience, and I hope it helps…
As you might expect, a sensible work environment is important: a proper workstation and chair and floor, without glare, set up for your physical needs is ideal. Given the sudden enforcement of homeworking, this may not be possible but it’s worth getting as close to it as you can. And it is important to sit in it properly – upright, supported, etc, rather than lounging in a sofa or working stooped is going to end up rather painful!
There are some other basic tips that Nicky mentioned that really do help: “Goes without saying get exercise as and when you can.” Not only this, but breaks are vital as you tend to not distracted by work (sometimes I forget so have to use a timer).
Nicky mentioned that “One thing I found helpful is to switch off talk radio – even Radio 4. It’ll drive you nutty. Incessant gloom.” A great tip: whilst email-answering or light FB-ing can stand up to distraction, I find that the radio or even a musical play-list really interferes with writing, especially any involving creativity or concentration.
There is a final point for now that is vital: social contact. It is really important to keep contact with work colleagues (who will not understand about isolation – I know!) as well as a with friends who can enforce a break or talk.
This is really important – much more than might be realised, as isolation and lack of social contact can be a killer — literally, gods forbid, if depression sets in. It’s a major danger of homeworking that is rarely understood or mentioned.
The eloquent Nicky put it thus: “[…] find loved ones and people you can really talk to – not just check in with – or to be polite to – people to whom you can have a good moan, people who don’t mind if you lose your train of thought, people who aren’t expecting a punchline, who wait with the silence – as you wait too as they process stuff, privately.”
In this context, with enforced homeworking I’d add that it’s vital to stay in touch with your colleagues as they work from home. Not by email, not by PM, and not by text – all are impersonal and have appalling bandwidth. It’s a reminder that’s vital for managers, too, as it’s easy to forget that staff don’t know everything you might as their is no ‘water cooler’ chat, no ‘I was just passing by the office’. Phone them, Skype them, FB-call them for a chat, an update and a richer experience that will enhance their day, their work, and their well-being. Not only that but seeing they’re cared for helps homeworkers remain bought in to a company and whatever they are working on.
Just a few tips, and I hope they help… (once more, thanks to Nicky Tate for the prompts, inspiration and quotes). Stay safe and take care.