Working from home is on the increase.
The Coronavirus lockdown could fundamentally change the way millions of people spend their working day. However,as many are finding out, being at home isn’t quite the joyride it’s made out to be. Social isolation, lack of movement, distractions and boredom all conspire to make it dangerous for the unprepared.
What’s more, having family around 24 hours a day can also make it harder as your usual activities and locations are locked down inside the lockdown. That may be no bad thing for some, but for others it will increase the frustration and lead to that mad, bad world of bickering.
So how can you avoid claustrophobia craziness during Coronavius quarantine?
Well actually there are plenty of things you can do to avoid madness when working from home. Your boss may not want you doing all of these things, but if it helps keep you sane, then in theory you should be more productive than if you end up a gibbering, unwashed wreck.
Top 10 things to do when working from home
1. Find your own space. Not all the time, but for some of the time. Not everyone lives in a multi-room house where you can shut the door and let your mind rest. However be creative. Have a bath, or at least lie in the bath and claim you’re having a bath. Drink more fluids so you’re in the toilet more. Or in the extreme identify an empty cupboard where you can hide. If you have a garage count your lucky stars and get a chair in there pronto.
2. Play some games. Make top trumps of your co-workers. Spend hours deciding what score to award your boss for humour, intelligence and PowerPoint skills. Be careful on awarding attractiveness points in case your family intervenes. Also be more careful who you play the game with, it could be career limiting. Or family limiting.
3. Multitask. While you were at work you used to chat and type at the same time. Or be on a call and playing block games on your phone. Working from home makes multi tasking even easier and helps your sanity. Take a call in the bath, or outside in the garden. Cook lunch while you work. Obviously you may need to be careful if point (4) is in operation.
4. Use video calling. The introduction of video in your calls can make a world of difference. Aside from the social contact, it can be intriguing to examine your co-workers homes. What pictures do they have on the wall? Can you see their cycling proficiency certificate in a beautiful frame? Be careful of those with whiteboards with important work words written on them. Dodgy cartoons are acceptable. Add home decor to your worker top trumps in point 2.
5. Move. Motion is lotion. Do a little dance occasionally to stop your back collapsing. Just remember to turn the video off. No one wants to see you jigging around to Eminem.
6. Keep in touch with the outside world. You may be locked in physically but allow your mind and then your fingers to wander among your social groups. WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Not to mention Snapchat. Working from home is the chanice for a middle aged person to become a trendy hit on social media. However don’t share videos of your dance moves just to try and get your likes up. It just won’t be worth the hassle. Anyone want to see my Taylor Swift video?
7. Set clear boundaries on your time and place. Don’t let your work drift into your mornings or evenings. The benefit of being at home is that there’s no commute. Use this time wisely to further yourself in different ways. Call a friend, paint a picture, write a blog. Anything that’s not work.
8. Invest in healthy snacks. Eating a peanut one at a time can help pass the time and create a distraction to the monotony of work. Alcohol is obviously a temptation, but starting too early could have disastrous consequences for that last call of the day (unless it’s the virtual drinking call). Just remember your boss may not be on quite the same wavelength as you tell him/her you love them, after your second bottle of wine.
9. Take up a new hobby. Cake making using a novelty silicone cake mould, writing a blog or even re-making old lego sets can keep your mind fresh. Keeping your mind fresh is key, as there’s a danger you slowly drift into some sort of work related dementia. Warning signs are forgetting your name, putting things in the wrong cupboard, and failing to get dressed. When you are watching yourself pick your nose or scratch inappropriately on a video call, you know you need to get your brain back into gear.
10. Go to bed early. Things always look better in the morning. Unless you’ve decided washing and shaving are unnecessary.
So there you have it. Working from home is sold as the ideal way for most people to do their jobs. Flexibility, fun, family, it sounds perfect.
However, having been home alone for a long time during my redundancy, and then when incapacitated with a hip replacement, makes you realise you can slip into all sorts of bad habits (see: What does Daddy do all day?) and is a short step from madness.