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With no clear end in sight to the COVID-19 crisis, many businesses are implementing work-from-home policies to ensure business continuity and safety. Both companies and their staff now find themselves forced to adjust their work processes on the run. This is new territory for many people who have not worked from home for long periods of time before.

However, as a graphic designer, I have regularly found myself working from home as a freelancer, and I quite enjoy it. People in creative fields often work remotely. All you need is your computer, your programs, collaboration tools, and periods of time with no distractions to get on with projects. Working from home is perfect for this.

As such I have picked up a few tips and tricks to ease into the sudden upheaval that many are experiencing as they are forced to turn their home sanctuary into their professional office. I appreciate that working from home is not for everyone and every company, but hopefully, people will see the positives that can come from it.

The first thing to note is you don’t have to be a perfectly disciplined person to work successfully and productively from home. At the best of times, I still don’t know how to adult correctly. But I can work from home effectively and produce work I am proud of. You simply need to keep a few things in mind and build healthy habits.

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  • Practice makes perfect. Keep to a routine as best you can. It doesn’t need to be strict, but practising the same healthy habits each day will put you in a good mindset.
  • Location, location, location. Try to have a separate work area that is just reserved for work time. This will allow you to switch off once you finish work and go to a different part of your home. Work at a desk with a comfy chair. Not on your bed or sofa. This is fine sometimes, but is not viable as a long term option. You do run the risk of injuring yourself and blurring the mental lines between home and work. And don’t kid yourself, having the TV on in the background really is a distraction!
  • Healthy body healthy mind. Stay fit and healthy! It can actually be easier to eat healthy while working at home. You don’t need that rushed takeaway lunch. It’s also easier to exercise. I find I can fit in a half-hour YouTube routine in my lounge room, have a shower, and be fresh for an afternoon of work. Also make sure you take time out during the day, just quick breaks for fresh air.
  • Dress the part. It’s important to still get dressed for work. This doesn’t mean suiting up, but be presentable and don’t laze around in your PJs all day. You will start to blur that line again…
  • Physical distancing, not social distancing. In times like this, it is more important than ever to put in an effort to stay connected. We have daily Zoom video huddles with the team so we are in contact and never feel isolated. They only have to last from 5-15 minutes if needed, but you have visual communication with co-workers. Also having informal communication channels is important. Keep those morning coffee/watercooler moments with the team and encourage positive social communication. We have different Slack channels that people post photos of their family, pets, and housemates working from home.
  • Train the brain. Work may be slowing down and that can be daunting, but that doesn’t mean you need to come to a standstill. Take this time to learn a new skill, so that once this storm has passed you will be able to return to full working capacity better prepared and more skilled than you were before. It doesn’t need to be a new qualification, maybe just better time management or leadership skills.

In times like this it is more important than ever to put in effort to stay connected.

Working from home, when done right, can increase productivity and decrease stress. Companies that encourage and support a work-from-home protocol can actually save money in the long run and have happier, healthier employees.

Build a culture of trust, support, and connection within your organisation. When people are empowered to take responsibility for their productivity, they usually do.

Focusing on the positives is important. Working from home can help you create a better work/life balance allowing you to spend less time commuting and more time with family. You can be more productive with fewer distractions and become a healthier person. There are many benefits.

So hopefully one positive to this crisis is that it could lead the charge for many organisations to continue with flexible working arrangements. Not all the time, but at least when needed as they will now have the infrastructure and experience to do so.

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