These days, many of were asked to avoid the office and work from home, to amid the further outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19). In the Netherlands, as well as in many other countries worldwide, governments have initiated precautionary measures, such as refraining from social contacts wherever possible and working from home, to protect the general health of the public. But more than that, the possibility to work form home offers a great opportunity for many businesses and their employees. But while it might have many advantages, maintaining the same work-norms at home can be a challenge. When the concept of working from home is a relatively new one, there are some things that are good to know to help you stay on task in your new working environment.

Setting up your space

For many of us, working from home will last more than just a couple of days. Therefore, it is vital to set up your working space appropriately.

While it might be tempting to spend your day on the couch or to just open your laptop at the kitchen table, having a designated working area will help you stay focused. Create a space which is dedicated only to work, and which is free from distractions. Psychologically, it is recommended, to not set up your working area in your bedroom, as it is important to establish that mental division between personal and professional space at home. Additionally, having an allocated space will help you establish clear boundaries for those you might cohabitate with. It shows your family members or roommates that you are working and currently, you’re not be disturbed if possible.

Having decided on where to set up your working space, it is important to establish measures to ensure your own well-being. Use an ergonomic chair, whose height you can adapt accordingly. You should be able to have your feet flat on the floor, legs and hips at a 90° angle and hold an upright position with your back. Your arms should also be able to rest at a 90° angle. When working, remind yourself to relax your neck and shoulders. It might help to just have a small reminder for yourself somewhere around on a post it for example. If you can, set up your screen at eye-height, and use a mouse and keyboard.

When setting up your working space, also consider the lighting. Try to make use of natural light, but also ensure that your space is neither too dark nor too bright by using blinds and a desk lamp accordingly.

Lastly, staying organized and avoiding clutter can help you prevent distractions. Try to treat your home office as you would if colleagues were sitting around you normally. Moreover, and especially important considering recent events, get in the habit of cleaning your working space and using disinfectant to wipe your keyboard, mouse and screens regularly.

Maintaining the norm

Being in the comfort of your own home and not having to leave the house comes with some advantages, such as not having to dress up or avoiding commute. However, many of us experience some difficulties in maintaining focus and productivity, as we are starting in our “new” but familiar working environment.

Therefore, it might be of valuable to establish a routine. Discuss the working hours and a schedule with your team and stick to it, to facilitate cohesion with one another. For yourself, set up a morning routine to get your day off to a positive start. This might include some exercise, such as running or a yoga session, writing your daily to-do list or some meditation.

Aligning, getting dressed and ready, as if you were going to the office normally can have a great influence on your approach. While you might be tempted to stay in your pyjamas, changing in to more appropriate “work”clothes can have a great psychological impact. As you are working and living in the same space, keeping up with a routine and the norms of your office life will help you make the cognitive distinction between leisure and work time, and will aid you in staying on task when working. Try and treat your home office as you would your normal job.

Working with your team

Communicating with one another and staying up to date on what is going on might have always been rather easy and effortless, as everyone was located at the same office. However, due to the new remote working situation, this is not a given anymore.

Maintaining effective communication with your colleagues, employees or supervisors is especially important when working from home.

One great way of maintaining good rhythm, can be the set-up of morning kick-off calls, via which developments and problems can be discussed and approached. Additionally, be proactive in giving updates to your fellow team-mates and elaborate on progress as much as needed. And while internal chats and e-mails can of course be of great help here, don’t hesitate to call your colleagues whenever necessary. Talking on the phone or via video-calls can often help resolve issues more efficiently than via written communication, and helps prevent being flooded with mails. Moreover, it gives you the chance to maintain those social bonds with your colleagues.

Especially considering the current situation, the lack of social contact and the feeling of isolation can be a problem when not being able to come to the office and having to stay at home.

Therefore, to keep up your moral and to maintain the social bond it is important to put in some effort. Choose digital face-to-face communication as much as possible, check-in regularly with your colleagues, and schedule meetings with no agenda, like grabbing a coffee or lunch together digitally.

We at Nexio

We at Nexio Projects of course had to adapt to the new situation as well and have shifted to working from home. As we conduct our business mostly digitally anyways, this does not tremendously affect our operations, and we are all looking forward to making the best out of this situation!

In times like these, being prepared and having procedures in place on how to act and respond can be vital. We at Nexio Projects can help you identify your gaps and provide you with relevant advice on how to tackle such challenges and enhance your emergency responsiveness.

If you have more questions regarding our services, or regarding how to optimise working from home and ensuring employee health and safety, we are more than happy to help!

16/03/2020 – Rotterdam

Author 1 - Energy efficiency

Kristina Mohme  – junior sustainability strategy facilitators