With the current global situation due to the COVID-19 outbreak, more and more people are working from home which means very limited social contact with friends, colleagues, and family.
Working from home might sound great, to begin with. After all, we envy those who are able to get up and start their working day while still in their PJs. However, when this sort of work becomes mandatory, days start to blend together which is when you realise being bound to your home is much harder than you might have thought.
Why do we miss the office?
Lack of change in the environment and social contact can lead to a drop in motivation and capability to focus. As humans, especially recruitment consultants, we are sociable creatures and love being around our peers with the same interests, goals, and passions. While at work, we find that this contributes massively to us staying focused and motivated throughout the day.
Over the last few weeks, our work routine has drastically changed. We have moved from seeing our colleagues face to face and having catch-ups with our managers to talking to them over email, FaceTime or online meeting apps such as Zoom. For most just these changes in daily routine will be a shock to the system.
Being housebound also means no gym, no meetups with friends, no cinema, parties or restaurants. Which with time can become quite hard for social creatures like us. This is why finding ways how to stay motivated and maintain productivity during this situation is more crucial than ever.
How can we stay focused at home?
For many of us the situation is very alien and will take some time to get used to. We will need to figure out new ways how to best keep levels of concentration and motive high. This is why we thought of talking to our recruitment consultants at Oyster, whose main job is to interact with people on a daily basis to see how they and their clients and candidates are coping with the changes to their daily routine.
Here are some tips and advice from our team on how to stay motivated and focused during this time.
1. Try to stick to a normal routine as much as possible.
2. Maintain your morning routine; Get up, take a shower, brush your teeth, have your morning coffee, and so on.
3. If you are a person who exercises in the mornings before work, keep doing it! There are plenty of resources online. Many fitness companies and personal trainers are currently running free daily workouts online. For yoga lovers check out FLY LDN, they run classes 3 times a day and post exact schedules of the sessions on their Instagram.
Chris Hemsworth’s app Centr is currently offering 6 week free trial for those who want to become Thor lookalikes during isolation. GymShark are currently offering free workouts on their conditioning app, and Sweat It studio in London are running free body-weight-only classes on their Instagram. There are many more companies and individuals who are offering free classes and workouts, these are just to give you a feel for what’s out there.
4. Get dressed. This will help add to the illusion you are not at home, but at work. Don’t lose that great feeling of getting home and putting on your PJ’s after a day of work!
5. If you have a room or space you can turn into a workstation or desk then do it. This will in a way mimic you being at your desk at work. Make sure you separate your working space from your after workspace. You don’t want to be working, sleeping and relaxing 7 days a week in the same space or set up. If you don’t have another room you can work in, set up a designated working area if possible.
“Have clear demarcation btw home/work time and physical space if you can. Get dressed in the mornings. Have fixed breaks to talk to people. Get some fresh air at lunch. Avoid rolling news channels. No social media after 7.00pm. Took me a while to settle into it and you’ll do a lot more work than in the office it’s much more tiring so make sure you build in clear breaks 20mins 3 or 4 times during the day otherwise time will fly and you’ll be shattered.”Paul McKim, Director of Planning – Charnwood Borough Council
6. Set your workspace up so you have everything you need. Pen, notebook, your phone, laptop, tablet, whatever it is you will need through the day, so you don’t keep getting distracted by looking for things you need.
7. Put on music you enjoy in the background, this will give the room some ambiance and illusion of life rather than dead silence. You can try TV, but for many this can be way too distracting.
8. Write down all the things you need to get done during the day. You can do this in the morning before starting your day or do it in the evening for the next day. Having a plan is very important!
9. Keep in touch with your managers and colleagues, book in daily catch-ups, if possible around the same time every day. Talk through your plan for the rest of the afternoon/next day. Saying things out loud will make you more committed to accomplishing them.
10. If you get distracted easily set your personal phone on ‘do not disturb’ and only use your work phone. If you don’t have a work phone, try turning off notifications for apps like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. You can check your social media at lunch. You wouldn’t be on your phone checking social media at work.
“Personal fitness is just as important as mental fitness to me so I am doing an online fitness class via Instagram every other day alternating with running. I am taking advantage of the current Government advice regards taking daily exercise. I am motivating the team through Teams and encouraging them with jokes / GIF’s all day long. Cynthia and I are troubleshooting IT problems via Teams so that we all share solutions and we thank the team every day for their hard work.”Maxine Gordon, Head of Contact Centre – Catalyst
11. Remember to have breaks, working from home can be a lot more exhausting because you won’t be having little breaks and scenery changes chatting to your colleagues or catching up with your manager. Every couple of hours take a 5-10 minute rest. Go for some fresh air if possible, just be conscious of distancing yourself from others, catch up with a friend over FaceTime or a phone call, have a snack, check your social media. Try to have these at scheduled times, this will make you more excited about getting through the hours as there will be a small prize at the end.
12. Stay away from the news as much as possible during work hours. You obviously need to stay on top of what is going on in your area of work, but for this, you can read industry-related news instead of gossip columns. The yellow press will only distract you and add to your anxiety about the current situation.
“I make sure I walk for at least an hour at the end of the day, so I’m not just moving from my workspace to my sofa to my bed. I open the windows and balcony door so I have fresh air in the morning. I cook from scratch most days and I have my shower first thing as usual & I don’t sit around in PJ’s (tracksuit but not PJ’s). I listen to the radio while I work and if a good song comes on I have a little dance, like no one can see me because they can’t !!”Kate Basham, Project Officer – Barnet Homes
13. Don’t forget to take an hour for lunch. You would be leaving your desk and letting your brain rest at work, make sure you do it at home too. Cook lunch, go for a run, do some exercise, read a book or watch TV.
14. You might be tempted to work till all sorts of hours, but unless you really need to don’t! Switch off your computer, leave your working space, go catch up with your family, and friends or go for a walk to breathe some fresh air.
The bottom line is you need to find what works for you and how best to set up your day, however, we hope that suggestions from our team will help you stay more focused and productive.