Working at home or living at work?

8 tips to make working at home fun

Gone are the days when we romanticise the life of remote workers. What once was a fantasy we used to distract ourselves from our grey office space has now become almost everyone’s reality.

We once imagined remote workers pulling out their laptops on the beach, filling in their excel spreadsheets with pina colada in hand. We wished for their lives as we scrolled through our instagram feeds. Working remotely once seemed like a dream life that few of us were likely to attain. Now, we are all adapting to this rapid change in working conditions, trying to juggle our working lives with homeschooling, walking a wobbly tightrope in search of an all too elusive work-life balance.
Andrew Neel O93Echtxf84 Unsplash 1Andrew Neel O93Echtxf84 Unsplash 1
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘a new normal’ so many times that it would be painful to write it unironically. Perhaps we are entering a ‘refreshingly different status-quo’ or an ‘alternate ordinary.’ The point is, that things are unlikely to return to exactly the way they were before the pandemic.

The truth is, we don’t really know what life will look like when this is all over. Perhaps offices will shut and we will all work from home full time. Perhaps businesses will adopt a hybrid system that requires employees to go into the office only a few days a week and work remotely for the rest. Perhaps, somewhere in the really far future, we will all meet up in a virtual office space as flickering holograms. Who knows?!
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Given this uncertainty, our time is probably best spent adapting to our lives working from home rather than speculating on the funky technological advancements of the future workplace.

Working from home poses a lot of challenges for employees. We are finding it hard to focus, procrastinating with household tasks or spending time homeschooling our kids whilst working full time. Because of all of these distractions, we are working longer hours to complete the same amount of work and at the end of our horrendously long working days, we are struggling to switch off.

Advice so far has been to set healthy boundaries between ourselves and our work. This advice is great! Except of course for the fact that for the average person it simply isn’t possible.... It’s as though this advice came straight out of a self help book written only for people who already have their shit together.
The truth is, not all of us are lucky enough to be able to set boundaries.

When our kids need help with their spelling during homeschooling, they aren’t very likely to respond to us when we tell them to wait until we have completed checking our emails. We can’t request that amazon only deliver our orders outside of working hours so as not to encroach upon our working day. We can’t stop working on an unfinished deadline that is due first thing tomorrow morning just because the clock has turned 5pm. Most of us do not have an office in our house. We cannot simply shut the door and forget about our obligations at the end of the day.

These challenges are very real and although it’s great if you can set boundaries between your work life and your personal life, if you are finding it hard to do so, perhaps it is time to think a little differently. With a little unconventional thinking and a small shift in mindset, a lot of these challenges can be transformed into tools to help you navigate your day and cope with working from home.
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Here are our top tips:

1. Early bird gets the work life balance

When working from home, it can be tempting to set your alarm for 8:59, roll over when it goes off in the morning and get going straight away, slouched over on the sofa or even lying in bed (you know who you are). Before you know it, it’s 2pm, you are unwashed, unfed and hoping that the zoom meeting in ten minutes is voice only. When you realise that it is a video call you have to formulate a quick excuse about your ‘broken’ webcam. It’s a slippery slope my friend.

There are a number of reasons working from your bed or sofa may be a bad idea. It often leads to a lower level of productivity, promotes bad posture and has a negative effect on our sleeping pattern. As tempting as it can be to wake up at the last minute, getting up and out of your fluffy jim jams at least one hour before work can actually do a lot to brighten your day. Taking some time in the morning to workout, read a book or follow a 50 step skin care routine can give you some you-time and bring balance to your life.
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2. Do a fake commute

Have you ever seen that film ‘The Room’ where they are stuck in a house for months on end without ever leaving? … does the plot sound a little too familiar to you? We aren’t making it out of the house nearly as often as we did before remote work. If you have become a hermit over the past year, faking your commute could give you an opportunity to get out of the house. Simply go for a walk that is a similar length to your usual commute before you start working and after you finish working. Breath in some fresh air and spend some time with nature. If you are really feeling the #selflove you could even take the money you usually spend on your commute and buy yourself a coffee or a slice of cake from a local cafe.
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3. Luxurious lunch break

When you are working from an office, one hour for lunch really isn’t very long. It’s just enough time to drag yourself to Tesco Express and pick up a £3 meal deal. The good thing about working from home is that you have a lot of time to rustle up something delicious in your lunch hour. Have a browse online (or in those recipe books you never use) for meals you want to try. Lots of delicious meals can be made in 30 minutes or less and they will be way tastier than your ham sandwich, prawn cocktail crisps, diet coke meal deal combo. I mean, who even is Gordon Ramsey?
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4. Working long or longly working?

Regardless of how hard you try, the chances of becoming distracted when you are working from home are extremely high. These distractions are leading to longer working days. The realisation ‘I forgot to hang the washing up’ may have provided a two second distraction in the office, but at home the washing machine is right there. ‘I know I should be working. I’ve got so much to do. I will do it after work’... ‘but I just reaallllly don’t want my clothes to smell like damp… Shall I do it? I’ll just do it.’ Before you know it you have hung up the washing to dry, cleaned out the spare room and repainted the skirting boards.

If you are really struggling to stay focussed throughout the day, it may be a good idea to accept that your working days will be a little longer. Instead of fighting against the distractions, create microtasks that you can complete around the house in between tasks at work. That way you can keep on top of chores and still perform well at work.
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5. Swapping the workplace for the work space

Not everyone has a room to spare in the house for an office. The majority of us are working from our kitchens or living rooms. Our personal lives and our work lives are blending in ways that they have never done before and setting boundaries is extremely difficult. If you don’t have an office, it is a good idea to have a space to store your work things at the end of the day. Turn off your laptop, close your work diary, shut your files and pack it all away into a box or a cupboard or a draw. You do not need a whole room, just somewhere to store your work out of sight so that you can forget about it at the end of the day. The last thing you want to be thinking about when you tuck into your spag bol is whether or not you remembered to CC the right coworker into the email you sent at 2:13 pm.
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6. Be a monk for fifteen minutes

Meditation. We know… everyone is bangin’ on about it. BUT if everyone is bangin’ on about it then maybe there is something to it. At the end of your work day, try to spend some time with yourself and reset so that you can get the most out of your rest and relaxation time. Try to fight the urge to look at your phone straight away or open Netflix on your laptop. That is unless you plan to open Netflix to watch the meditation episodes released by Headspace. The team at Studio Unbound have all been tuning into these episodes and by the end we all feel refreshed and ready to get on with our evenings and spend time with our loved ones.
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7. Pick up a new hobby

Many of our favourite hobbies are no longer possible. Gyms and sports halls have closed, as well as cinemas, theatres, community centres and pubs. Lots of us are missing the activities which make us feel happy and fulfilled outside of the workplace. There are ways of tackling this of course with many Zoom fitness classes, dance classes, quizzes and sing-alongs running, but for those of us with rather niche interests, zoom just isn’t working out. Maybe your climbing gym has closed, maybe your battle reenactment group can’t meet anymore, maybe your witches coven has missed all of the equinoxes.

Some of us are having to adapt and find new things to keep us entertained and there are so many new hobbies that you can explore in lockdown. You could have fun with art. Grayson Perry is giving lessons through episodes on BBC iPlayer. Maybe you want to try your hand at baking or reading some classics or doing some calligraphy or learning how to speak Elvish or making cocktails or learning to juggle (maybe don’t do those two on the same night). There are so many things you can do to make your time outside of work enjoyable.
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8. Go easy on yourself

Most importantly, don’t be too hard on yourself. Everyone’s experience of lockdown has been different. Some of us are struggling with loneliness. Some of us are facing other challenges. Some of us have put on a few pounds. Some of us have lost our jobs. Some of us have experienced relationship breakdowns. It is safe to say that this past year has been a lot. Whether you found a new hobby or did nothing but watch Netflix, whether you have adapted well to working at home or have been counting down the days until you can see your favourite work friend again, we think you are doing great!

Do you want to spend lockdown doing something productive for your business?

Get in touch and we can have a chat about your brand.