As the number of Covid-19 cases rises in South Africa and the national lockdown comes into effect, an increasing number of people will be working from home.
While this may seem like a dream scenario for many of us at first, working at home for extended periods of time can be quite challenging and possibly even damaging to your mental and physical well-being.
Here are a few things that you can do to make life a little easier and stay healthy:
Many people who work in an office lead sedentary lifestyles which can be exacerbated when you work from home.
An office environment provides you with distractions – whether it’s a casual conversation with a colleague, meetings or a walk to make coffee – all of these things give your mind and body a much-needed break from work.
When you’re at home it becomes very easy to find yourself sitting in a chair, staring at your monitor for hours. This can be very damaging to your health.
Remember to give yourself a break and take a walk, stretch, go for a swim during your lunch hour (if you’re lucky enough to have a pool at home) or any other activity which gets you away from your computer for awhile.
Beyond the simple activities mentioned above, try to keep up your exercise routine at home. If you don’t have a routine, consider using the time you’re saving not sitting in traffic to start one.
If you don’t have any exercise equipment at home, find an exercise video online to help you balance out all that eating and sitting around you’re going to be doing.
The temptation to sleep in is hard to resist: you don’t have to dress for work or to sit in traffic and you can have your breakfast while you’re working, so why not use the extra time to catch some extra z’s?
It probably won’t hurt to take advantage of this once in a while but don’t do it too often as sleep patterns are hard to break and once you start waking up late regularly, it will be difficult to stop when things eventually get back to normal.
Maintain good hygiene
You still need to brush your teeth. It may sound obvious but your personal hygiene can suffer when you don’t have to leave the house.
You should still be showering, shaving, brushing, moisturising, etc. Just because you won’t be going into work doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be grooming.
Also, staying in your pyjamas may seem like a good idea but it’s not. You slept in them and, after spending a whole day in them, the smell isn’t likely to be pleasant. So shower and put on some regular clothes.
Talk to your colleagues
With social distancing and self-isolation being the norm, it can feel very lonely working from home.
All the meetings and mundane conversations may bother you at the office but when you’re working alone for days at a time, you’ll probably start to miss them.
Stay in touch with your colleagues through whatever platform is available to you and not just through WhatsApp and e-mails either. Where possible, try to use voice and video calls; not only is this more productive than texting but it will also give you some much-needed human interaction.
Background noise can be soothing
After years of being in an office, you may become accustomed to the noise that comes with it. When you’re used to constant chatter, footsteps and keyboard clacking the silence can be quite strange when you start working by yourself.
Consider turning on the TV or playing soft music. Make sure it’s not something you’re too interested in though or you may not get any work done.
Create a workspace
You need a space that’s just for work. For some of us, this is very necessary in order to stay focused.
Not only can working from your bed or couch cause back and leg pain, but it can also affect your productivity. When some people work in a space they usually relax in, they tend not to get much work done.
A desk and a comfortable chair go a long way towards recreating that “work” feeling. If you don’t have the space for a separate work area then investing in a laptop table may be a good idea.
You may have to spend around R500 on a good one, but it will raise your laptop closer to eye level and allow you to sit back, which will save you from back and neck pain.
Routine is key
The bottom line is that you need to create a routine and stick to it. Even though you’re at home, you need to behave like you’re going to work. That means waking up at a consistent time as well as starting and finishing work at set times too.
Make sure you don’t let your personal care slip and try not to overwork yourself; take breaks regularly and don’t fall into the trap of thinking that it’s okay to work a couple of hours extra just because you’re already home.
Your work-life balance should remain intact so that one doesn’t suffer at the expense of the other. Set reminders/alarms on your phone to help you stick to your schedule.