Frank Walsh: Cut the chaos when working from home
Our Managing Partner Frank Walsh shares his experiences of working from home during the Covid-19 crisis, and his advice for reducing the chaos during this unprecedented time.
As more and more people are forced to work from home, we need to adapt to our new environments – without creating further chaos in our lives.
I need structure in my life, but after the first two days of working from home I found I was exhausted but hadn’t really achieved much. I was distracted by anything in my new surroundings and I was at risk of being divorced by my wife and kids for ignoring that they had a daily routine and I was an unwanted intruder in their domain.
My biggest achievement in my first two days was getting my printer working, and that was after numerous calls to the most patient IT professional I have ever dealt with (Thank you James in Ortus!).
So what have I learned about working from home?
Be patient. In the early days not much is achieved, but once you get organised then you will start to see results.
Stick to a routine. I remember as a child, my friend’s father worked from home; he would wear a suit, have breakfast with the family and then head into his office in the converted garage. I thought this was bizarre, but I now understand that he was creating his routine. You need to choose a start time, take structured breaks, and finish up at a regular time each day. This helps you to mentally switch off and gets you recharged for the next day.
Plan your day. I find I work best to deadlines and when I know what I need to achieve. I usually prepare my plan for the following day every evening. I put times beside each task and schedule in breaks and other distractions. I rarely get my list completed, as something unexpected always crops up, but I just carry the incomplete tasks forward to the next day. It works for me but everyone may have their own method – the main thing is to have a plan!
Office set up. Pick a place in your home to set up. Do not roam from room to room, it creates chaos for everyone else in the house. Get a good chair to support your back and set up your computer in a well-lit area that allows you to work to your best.
IT support. You may now be your own IT support so make sure your equipment works well. Get a good laptop, extra screen(s) if you can, a printer that is easy to install (unlike mine!). If you have IT support use them sparingly, because there will be a day you will really need them!
Embrace new technology. We have had MS Teams in our workplace for over a year, but now I have started to use it for everything and find it great for collaborating with my team. I like Zoom, WhatsApp and Facetime for calls, but also use Teams for internal calls. (We've provided an overview of the most popular technology solutions here)
Check in with friends and colleagues. With so many working from home it can be a bit lonely – check in on colleagues and friends regularly. I make contact with one new/old contact every day. People really appreciate you reaching out to them – clients, suppliers, family, friends – make some time, you won’t regret it.
Exercise. It is important to take breaks and do some exercise. Working from home means you no longer have to commute in and out to work – use this time to do some exercise, and keep out of the fridge and biscuit jar!
Treat yourself. Set goals each week and aim to reward yourself with a treat. This may be a glass of wine/beer, ice cream, take out – whatever you want at the end of the week.
Be kind. It is surprising how satisfied you feel after doing a kind gesture. Check in on a neighbour, volunteer to collect shopping or medicines, donate to a charity, make a sandwich/tea/coffee for someone else. Think of others and do something to make their day better.
We have a dedicated team to help you with these challenges and are here to help. Please contact us if you need advice.
Frank Walsh, Managing Partner