Research from Finder has revealed that 60% of the UK’s adult population are currently working from home because of the coronavirus lockdown. Even as the lockdown is eased, it is expected that millions of employees will continue to work from home – at least until the schools reopen or public transport is restored.
While there are plenty of benefits to working from home – there’s no daily commute and you can enjoy more sleep – there are some downsides too. Maybe you have found yourself working into the evening or answering emails at all times of day or night?
Leaving work behind is hard when your home is also your workplace. So, here are five tips for switching off when working from home.
1. Follow a routine
If you have a regular, planned working routine during the day, it’s easier to come to a close once your working hours are done.
Suzy Reading, from Work Wellbeing, which delivers employee wellbeing programmes, suggests these steps: “Simple things like making your bed, tidying your workspace, throwing open all the curtains to let maximum light in, having a shower and getting into clothes that help you feel put together, eating a nourishing breakfast so you have fed your brain and can think straight.”
If you follow a routine during the day, you’re more likely to stick to it at the end – by stopping work.
2. Take breaks
Ensuring structure and routine is key when working from home, and that includes scheduling in designated breaks.
Joshua Zerkel, head of global community at work management company Asana, says: “Research has shown that taking small breaks during the day actually improves productivity.
“The trick is making sure your quick recess doesn’t turn into an entire afternoon. To keep yourself accountable, we recommend setting aside specific time blocks for non-work activities like checking the news or scrolling through social feeds. When the time block ends, close any apps or browser windows you opened so you can get back to the work at hand.”
And, working from home shouldn’t mean you stay cooped up indoors all day. While you might not miss your daily commute, it does guarantee that you leave the house at least once during the day. So, get your shoes on and enjoy some fresh air.
3. Keep your working and resting places separate
While this may be difficult if you live in a small flat, you should keep your work and rest spaces separate if you can.
Ideally, you will have a desk set up in a spare room, study or separate corner which will become your dedicated workspace. If you can’t do this, try to mentally separate your work zone by never working from the sofa you relax on.
Even changing from your pyjamas into workwear signals that you are entering ‘work mode’.
4. Enjoy the ‘digital sunset’
You’re much less likely to work on a project or reply to an email if your laptop isn’t on the desk in front of you.
Physically closing your laptop screen, shutting your PC down, and moving a laptop into a drawer signals that your working day is over. It’s also a good idea to tidy up your workspace to tell yourself that you’re done for the day.
This is called a ‘digital sunset’ – shutting down your work devices, leaving your dedicated workspace, and moving to an environment where you can relax.
5. Plan an activity for the end of the day
Some experts suggest leaving home when you finish for the day. Walking around the block and returning home simulates your ‘commute’ and helps you disconnect from work.
You can also draw a boundary between your home and work by planning an activity for the end of the day. You may decide to do a workout, call a friend or family member, or use this time to play with your children.