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Working from home due to Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Working from home due to Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Working from home for the first time?  Working from home with kids to care for?

There are a number of simple actions you can take to maximise your productivity and physical and mental health should you unexpectedly find yourself working from home. This time is going to be tough and you will likely be working from home for several months. Therefore it’s important to get your strategies in place as soon as possible in order to minimise risks to your wellbeing and productivity.

 

Psychological strategies to maintain your health when working from home during Coronavirus (COVID-19)

GET DRESSED
Sorry, but you should aim to get out of the pyjama pants to achieve maximum productivity. Wearing work clothes (or at least, day clothes) helps cue your brain to operate in work mode. Ideally, you should keep the same routine you had prior to the pandemic. Don’t be tempted to skip the shower or jump straight to your desk and eat breakfast whilst you work.

DESIGNATED WORK SPACE
Forget the couch or bed and choose a location with minimal distractions and optimal ergonomics. Have a consistent location where you only do work. That way, your brain will associate the space with productivity. This is going to be a challenge when you are also managing childcare at the same time and can’t lock yourself away in another room. For many people, the kitchen table is a good compromise.

DON'T DINE El DESCO
Take breaks and lunch away from your computer to help your brain switch off from work and recharge. If you have other family members at home, it can help to decide on a time for a designated lunch break and eat together. Your time spent away from your work will actually boost your productivity post lunch.

START & FINISH TIMES
It's helpful for productivity to have strict start and finish times. At the end of the day, turn the computer off, pack everything up and don't be tempted to check emails on the phone. Without a commute, you need closure at the end of the day. For those managing children at home and sharing childcare with a partner, you can try ‘shift’ times to accommodate both your workloads. One option is splitting the day in 2, where one of you work early until lunch, say 6am – 12pm and the other works 12pm until 6pm. If needing to get that extra 2 hours in, you might need an additional ‘shift’ once the children are in bed.

STRUCTURE YOUR DAY
Continue to set productivity and career goals and continue to strive from them during this time. Set up your day to complete your most intellectually challenging work first if possible. Continue to use whatever productivity tools you usually use in your workplace. If you don’t have anything in place, Trello is a great starting option. If you are an employee of a company, now is the time to demonstrate your value to your company. Demonstrate that you can meet (or exceed) your KPIs when working at home. You may find post pandemic you will then be granted the working from home flexibility you have long been requesting.

KEEP CONNECTED
Scrolling Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn doesn't count. Turn off notifications and put time restrictions on these apps to help manage distraction and procrastination. Pick up the phone, talk to your colleagues and video conference where possible for some human connection. If you are finding your workload is less than you desire, this may be the time to hunt out online communities relevant to your profession and connect with like minded professionals.

 

Physical strategies to maintain your health when working from home during Coronavirus (COVID-19) 

If you can borrow your monitor, mouse and keyboard before you leave the office, this is ideal ?

SCREEN HEIGHT
The top third of the screen should be at eye level in order to reduce head and neck strain. You may need to increase the height of your screen by using household items such as books, board games or large containers! A screen that is too low is likely to result in neck, back or shoulder pain.

KEYBOARD HEIGHT
Having your elbows at 90 degrees when working on the keyboard and mouse will reduce the chance of neck and shoulder pain over time. If you have access to a separate mouse, it is better to use this than the laptop mouse as they place your wrist and hand in a more neutral position.

FEET POSITION
Aim to have your feet flat on the floor or supported with a foot rest (or whatever you can find around the house) Dangling legs will result in lower back pain and extra pressure on the back of your legs. If you are sitting on a chair that is too low and your knees are above your hips, this will also increase your odds of lower back pain.

LAPTOPS
Achieving good working angles on just a laptop in near impossible, so if you are unable to get a monitor, mouse or keyboard in a flash, you will need to vary your posture more regularly to prevent injury.

MOVEMENT BREAKS
The best ergonomic set-up is not going to keep you healthy if you don't have movement breaks. Aim to get up and walk around at least hourly. Stretches are also great for maintaining your muscular health. You can find some examples here.

 

If you are starting to experience aches and pains from your home workstation, or are feeling like your productivity is dropping or mental health is declining, why not be proactive and book in for a 45 minute workstation and productivity consultation. The session can include an assessment of your current work environment, and an analysis of your new routines and habits to determine what is helping your mental health and productivity and what is holding you back. Consultations can be booked here.

Some extra ideas on managing your workday if you have kids at home

MULTIPLE SHIFTS
Rise early to start work around 5am and work until children wake (some of us have the luxury of late risers, whereas for others, 5am will provide minimal time!). Work at nap time if applicable, then again once the kids go to bed. It is unlikely you will get in 8 hours of work but it’s better than nothing. This can be a tricky strategy, especially if you are not usually an early riser. It may be easier to implement knowing that it’s not how you will work forever.

STRATEGIC TOYS
Save some favorite or novel toys that only come out when you need high focus such as a meeting or deep thinking work. (I have purchased a mini ball pit for this purpose!)  The same can be said for screens. If you use them all the time, they are not going to have the novelty factor when you really need them. For other play inspiration, there are many Instagram accounts and Facebook groups popping up with the aim of giving parents new ideas for keeping children entertained at home during the pandemic.

WEARING THEM OUT
Try to incorporate periods of being fully present and playing with children. Give them your full attention where possible, engage them in something very physical to help manage their energy levels. You might then have periods following this where they are happy to play independently on a quiet task afterwards and you can get some work done.

 

Now, probably more than ever, it is important to be taking care of both your physical and mental health. The impacts of Coronavirus (COVID-19) will impact several areas of your life as you have previously known it. If you would like additional resources on managing your health during this challenging period, click here.

 

 

Working from home during COVID19 Tips 1Working from home during COVID 19 Psychological Tips

 

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Friday, 12 April 2024