Tips for Working from Home During the COVID-19 Lockdown
Never has the term ‘unprecedented’ been used so much. Our world has changed and we are experiencing history in the making.
Our vocabulary is now expanding with previously unfamiliar terms and phrases such as ‘social distancing’, ‘pandemic’, and of course ‘coronavirus’. Life as we know it has been upended and on Monday 23rd March things took another strange new turn -- the UK entered lockdown! In addition to the strict measures that came with it, ‘lockdown’ is yet another bizarre addition to our growing vocabulary.
Still, for some, business goes on. In many cases work continues to happen in flexible offices, behind closed doors in private, deep-cleaned office suites.
For those who can’t travel to an office environment, work happens at home. However, with children and pets around, limited exercise and strict advice to stay indoors, the working population is facing a brand new set of challenges. Here is UBC’s advice to help you overcome these difficulties:
- Set up a dedicated work space.
Top of the list is to create your own working area. It should be away from general household bustle, ideally in a spare room. If you don’t have a separate space, use a corner of a room that doesn’t have much foot traffic during the day - such as a dining room or bedroom. If possible, use a screen to segregate your work environment so the lines between work and relaxation don’t blur too much; for the benefit of already heightened stress levels, you don’t want to see your laptop while you’re nodding off to sleep at night.
- Use adjustable, ergonomic furniture.
We could be in this for some time. At the very least, you could be working from home for the next 3 weeks - so you’ll need a comfortable chair to keep you in good physical health. Ideally, use an ergonomic desk chair with adjustable height, back position and tilt. Arm rests and wheels are recommended too. Your desk should be positioned at the right height so you are not straining to reach - see advice from the NHS on office chairs and desks here.
- Cyber security.
You don’t have to be an IT expert to maintain sensible security measures while you’re connecting to networks from home. The UK's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has published guidance around protecting data when staff are working outside of their normal office environment.
If you need new accounts or access to systems, use strong passwords and two-factor authentication, if available. You may also need access to collaboration tools to stay in touch with other remote workers, such as online chat and videoconferencing software. Again, strong passwords with a combination of letters (upper and lower case), numbers and special characters are recommended. You may also wish to use a password generator such as LastPass or 1Password.
- Get into a routine.
Working from home can feel lonely and isolating. It’s easy to let your concentration wander, particularly when there’s nobody around to hold you accountable. Focus on keeping to a routine in much the same way as you would when preparing to go into the office. Get up early, shower, have breakfast, dress in smart/casual clothes, make a coffee, and head into your home office.
If you have family members at home, try to make it clear that you are ‘going to work’ like any other day. Take a break and pause for lunch like you normally would, and try to keep to the same routine as you would in the office.
- Pick the right tech.
You may have become accustomed to superfast WiFi and videoconferencing in the office, but at home, it’s a different story -- particularly when your home-based family members are streaming movies and using up the home Internet bandwidth.
For remote working, get together with your team and decide on a set of tools that everyone is happy to use on a daily basis. Some popular choices include:
- Zoom - for videoconferencing and group audio calls
- Slack - for online chat
- Confluence - for internal wiki and general collaboration
- Miro - for strategy and project planning, central project hub, and presentations
- Google Suite - for shared spreadsheets, word documents and file storage.
Make the most of every opportunity. Use working from home as a remote working experiment -- see what works, try out different tech tools, collaborate daily with your team, and monitor productivity. Make the most of the time you would otherwise have spent commuting and use it to your advantage. Read, learn new skills, finish that project, start work earlier, or simply enjoy an extra hour in bed.
Here at UBC we are now managing our workspaces remotely. We are adapting and doing all that we can to provide the business services our clients need at this time, and should you need them for essential work, our workspaces are still open.
If you have any questions or concerns, call or email us and we’ll be happy to help in any way we can.