How to make the most out of working from home

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Working from home; man smiling with laptop

Read our top tips for boosting your productivity and looking after your mental health while you're exiled from your usual workplace

Having to carry out your working responsibilities from home can be tougher than you think. However, with a few simple steps, you can rise to the challenge.

Make working from home work for you

Working from home; man smiling on the phone

Over the past few weeks, most of us have been told to work from home to help minimise the spread of the coronavirus. On the surface, it sounds like a cushty arrangement – after all, no one likes having to commute each day, and it means we can 'be our own boss' to an extent, with a level of flexibility that you just don't get in the office. 

But carrying out our daily responsibilities in the comfort of our own house or flat throws up a number of challenges. For a start, it's easy to fall into bad habits, such as leaving our pyjamas on all day, working more or less hours than we would under normal circumstances, and operating in conditions that aren't exactly conducive to getting stuff done (i.e. sitting in front of the TV!).

All of these things – along with being isolated from our work colleagues – can have a negative impact on our mental health. So, what can we do to improve the situation? Here, some of the UK's foremost wellbeing experts share their nuggets of advice on creating the perfect home working environment...

Stick to a routine

Working from home; man making the bed

For most of us, normal life has been turned upside-down since the coronavirus crisis kicked in. All of a sudden, we're working in radically different circumstances to what we're used to, and the lack of structure can easily leave us feeling lost and confused. 

To get ourselves back on track, author, psychologist and yoga teacher Suzy Reading suggests introducing a new routine into our day. “Simple things like making your bed, tidying your work space, throwing open all the curtains to let maximum light in, having a shower and eating a nourishing breakfast so you've fed your brain and can think straight,” she told the Huffington Post. “Weave into that routine some micro-rituals to enhance energy and focus.”

Dress for the occasion

Working from home; smart woman

When you're working from home, it's very tempting to stay in your bed clothes all day. But while slumming it in your woolly dressing gown is undeniably cosy, it doesn't get you in the right frame of mind for putting in a shift.

Samantha Clarke, author of Love It Or Leave It: How To Be Happy At Work (Endeavor, £14.99), told wellbeing magazine In The Moment: “It affects your mental state. I think there’s something about getting dressed properly that energises you to think about something different for the day. 

“For me, it’s about getting into the day and really enjoying it. Being energised for my clients – to be ready to serve, to be ready to give. And I think if I just rolled up my PJs, I’m not investing in myself, so why should anyone think that I’d be able to invest in them?”

Create a suitable work space

Working from home; man smiling with laptop

Most of us home-workers could quite happily spend the day on the sofa, tapping away on a laptop. But there's a reason why offices are set up the way they are – having a proper desk helps you to stay organised, while an upright chair can be better for your posture. And this, says Samantha Clarke, is what you should be aiming for at home.

“Try to create a better environment that enables you to work effectively and look after your body through this change, because we don’t know how long we’ll be working from home for,” she told In The Moment magazine.

“Look at your chair set-up, look at the lighting. Think about how much time you’re spending on your laptop – look at the way the screen is positioned.”

Stay connected with your colleagues

Working from home; woman chatting

Working from home for a lengthy period of time can be a lonely experience. Even if you have your family around you, you'll miss connecting with the rest of your team. Luckily, online communication platforms such as Skype and Microsoft Teams have made it much easier to keep in touch.

“I’ve been plotting in a lot of video-conferencing dates,” Samantha Clarke told In The Moment magazine. She recommends keeping spirits up among your team by mixing work-related conversation with lighthearted chat about each other's daily lives, hobbies and interests.

Know when to stop

Working from home; woman yawning

When you're working in an office, it's easier to adhere to a typical nine-to-five day, because others are getting up to leave or you might have a bus to catch. Working from home, reminders to finish for the day aren't always so apparent, meaning you can end up continuing way beyond your usual shift. And this can eventually take its toll on your mental wellbeing. 

“Enjoy bringing your work to a close, and don’t let it spool out into the evening,” Suzy Reading told In The Moment magazine. “Switch off, unplug and recharge yourself so you can pitch up feeling fresh tomorrow.”

Keep a daily journal

Working from home; write a journal

If you've had a stressful day, don't keep your emotions pent up inside. Talking through your frustrations with a loved one can be helpful – but if that's not an option, try keeping a daily journal of your thoughts and feelings. 

Certified health coach Suzy Glaskie, of Peppermint Wellness, told In The Moment magazine: “Keep a nice pad by your bed and just pour out whatever is on your mind. You’ll be amazed at how calming it is to empty what’s in your head onto paper. 

“A gratitude journal is a brilliant way to help you focus on the positive – which is more important now than ever.”

Discover more great wellbeing advice 

You can find lots more blogs aimed at enhancing your physical and mental health in the Wellbeing section of our site. Download the Calm app for a wide range of meditation sessions. And take out a subscription to In The Moment magazine for regular features on everything from mindfulness to yoga.