8 ways to keep the home working vibe alive
In March 2020, many of us had to transform our homes into workspaces, and that unused table in the kitchen was quickly repurposed into much needed desk space. Nearly a year and a half on, we may be experiencing some anxiety at the thought of giving it all up and returning to our workplaces. Here’s 8 ways we can keep the home working vibe alive as we all return to the office.
1. Listening to our biorhythms
One of the main worries of working without office hours as a structure was that we would find ourselves on our computers in the late hours and realise we had forgotten to take any breaks. Well, we have had to find creative ways to take some time out by learning to listen to our natural bio-rhythms, signalling to us when we need take a pause from things. On returning, we should remember that breaks are invaluable for our mental wellbeing and actually aid, rather than hinder, our productivity.
2. Silence can be golden
Working from home was a way of reminding ourselves that silence can indeed be golden; and a chance to enjoy the sounds of nature outside our windows. What a new experience it was to realise that we could compile spreadsheets, write emails and even engage in video conferencing calls, all to the soundtrack of birdsong. Returning to the office need not mean the end of this: we can all remember that for certain parts of the working day quiet is good.
3. Reclaiming some ‘me time’
Working alone without continual input from co-workers took some time to get used to, but most of us made peace with this after lockdown was announced; and got used to the only person that we could ask to fix our paper jam was well…ourselves. In the same way it may take some time to simply get used to being around people again. This process could be helped by providing spaces in the workplace where people can reclaim that feeling of ‘me time’.
4. More than mere missives
Before the pandemic, email was pretty much just a means of exchanging information. However, during lockdown, it became a way to connect with co-workers and so for many of us it was more than mere missives but instead was imbued with the warmth of a face-to-face chat. Going forward, even with our colleagues around us, we should not forget how we all learned to love email again.
5. Humanising the whole process
There is evidence that levels of co-worker trust increased during lockdown because of the humanity of our home working environments. In meetings, instead of the utility of the office, we could see cosy homely backdrops and occasionally a cat walking across the desk and this has helped to humanise the whole process. So, let’s remember keeping things a little informal at times can build a greater sense of community feeling.
6. No assumptions
While the pandemic has meant many more of us are facing difficulties with our mental health, it has also provided a significant opportunity to talk about wellbeing in the workplace. However, as conversations around mental health become normalised, we should not assume that everyone will immediately want to talk about their thoughts and feelings. These conversations have for the last year and a half taken place inside the private space of our own homes; so, for many of us it will take time to develop our ability once again to have these conversations in public spaces.
7. Mono-tasking is fun as well
We all love multi-tasking, right? It means we can get three or four times more work done; and being able to write an email, make a call and choose a new screensaver all at the same time is pretty cool. But lockdown working has also taught us that mono-tasking can be great as well. For many of us, lockdown may have been the first time in our working lives we occasionally got the chance to focus solely on one thing and give it all our concentration. Inevitably as we transition back to our workplaces, multi-tasking will increase, but we should also try to build in time when we can concentrate on one task, especially those which benefit from close attention.
8. The future: hybrid working
Many employers are considering hybrid working plans for their employees, involving a mixture of continuing to work from home for part of the week and being in the workplace for the other part. This would help with creating more safe spaces because less people will be on the premises at any one time. And ultimately this could mean that we do not have to give up on working from home altogether.