Working from home: 5 things you absolutely shouldn’t do

Posted by for Careers

Working from home as a result of the coronavirus outbreak? Here’s how to get it right. 

As we head towards the end of our second week in lockdown and many of us adjust to the idea of working from home, it’s likely the novelty of it all is starting to wear off a bit. Sure, working from bed was nice for the first couple of days, but wearing the same pear of pyjama shorts for more than 48 hours just isn’t as great as you thought it would be, is it?

I speak as someone who has worked from home for one day a week for some time now. Sure, getting up 15 minutes before the working day is due to start is a feeling unlike any other. Instead of the hour-long slog I complete during the week, my commute (aka moving between my bed and my desk) takes less than a minute, and I’m sat comfortably in front of my laptop with a cup of tea way before the working day is due to start.

But there are also pitfalls to this lifestyle that can trip up even the most experienced work-from-homer. Working from home is all fun and games until you realise that there’s a reason that getting up and showering everyday is actually quite important – both for your productivity and mental health.

Because we don’t know how long the coronavirus outbreak is going to last, many of us face at least a couple of months working from home until lockdown is lifted. With this in mind, I’ve taken it upon myself to give you an insight into the mistakes I’ve made while working from home, so you don’t have to develop some bad (and hard to kick) habits. You can thank me later.

1. Avoid the sofa (and blankets)

Taking your laptop to the sofa may sound like a pretty solid plan, but I’m here to warn you against it wherever possible.

A dog snuggled up with a blanket
We all love a good fluffy blanket – but they make working from home so much harder.

Wrapping up with a blanket over your legs and nestled into the corner of the sofa is the image we all dream of when we’re sat at our desks, but it won’t take long before you’re slipping lower and lower on the sofa and find yourself curled up in a ball desperately trying to balance your laptop and type with one hand. 

It’s a slippery, slippery slope: avoid at all costs.

2. Having Netflix “on in the background” never works

I get it – working from home can be lonely if you live on your own or have flatmates or family members who are out during the day, but putting Netflix on for some “background noise” is never as innocent as it sounds. Yes, you may start off with good intentions, putting on an episode you’ve “watched before” so you won’t be distracted, but things will never go quite as planned.

3. Don’t go into hibernation

When you’re working from home, it’s easy to pretend that the outside world doesn’t exist. Spending the majority of the day in your pyjamas is great at first (trust me, I’m a big fan), but not going outside (or moving) for weeks at a time is enough to send anyone stir crazy. 

Of course, if you’re self-isolating, a walk around the block isn’t an option – but make sure to spend some time everyday walking around (tidying or sorting things out is a great way to get moving). You’ll be surprised how much of a difference it actually makes.

A woman making the bed
Sorting out the house is a great way to get moving when you're working from home.

4. You need to take a lunch break

Because you’re working from the comfort of your own home, it can be easy to forget that you’re still entitled to a lunch break. Get outside, spend time with a pet or relax with a book – just make sure you’re allowing yourself some space to breathe throughout the day. 

5. Speak to other people

You’ll quickly realise how much you enjoy spending time with your colleagues every day when you’re working on your own.

Interacting with the people around you in the office is actually incredibly important for your mental wellbeing – so it’s important not to retreat into yourself and spend your time working from home with your inner voice as your only company. 

Why not schedule a lunchtime Facetime with your work pal when you’re both stuck at home? It’ll give you a well-needed break and make a massive difference to your mood.

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