Home working has become a reality for almost all professionals in the past 15 months.
Here at The Difference Collective, it was already a way of life for most of us. Social isolation and anxiety in the pandemic have created new challenges even for the most seasoned home office worker. But on the plus side, no-one thinks it’s strange any more when we suggest a Zoom meeting!
In healthcare as in many other industries, the outlook is for home-based working to continue, in a pure or hybrid form. We’re pleased that many traditional organisations that used to be suspicious of remote working have now seen how effective virtual teams can be.
We’re always looking for new ways to increase our productivity and make remote working a positive experience for ourselves and our clients. We asked the team to share their hacks for maximum energy and engagement. Here’s what they said:
1. EMBRACE THE SILENCE
Sometimes, your brain free ranges into creative places or a solution snaps into place when you give it a break from music, audio books or podcasts.
2. CREATIVE INSPIRATION
Take a break to scan fresh and eclectic content for inspiration and entertainment. Bitesize sources are good – just enough to distract and stimulate without taking up too much time. We like Five Things On Friday and The Economist’s daily Intelligence Podcast or sign up for Sign up for the Contagious Edit for ‘a weekly dose of Contagious thinking’.
Talk to a friend, who knows nothing about what you do, about what you do. The perspective and alternative viewpoint can really freshen up your outlook.
3. LOVE LOCAL
Invest in your local community just as you would near an office. Find quirky places for coffee and food. Get to know your local pub.
Swap out some Zoom or Teams video calls for phone calls. You can walk around while on the phone and relax about not having to look great. How refreshing!
5. CONTROL EMAIL
Run your emails on a separate device or turn the alerts off so they’re not constantly popping up in your face to distract you.
6. FRESH AIR
Take regular breaks to go outside. It gets the blood flowing and fills your lungs with fresh air. Seeing other people either by arrangement or just in passing is a further boost.
Commute to your home office – factor in a walk (or bike ride) between breakfast table and your desk and the same at the end of your day to get a bit of separation between life and work.
7. MIX THINGS UP
Change the time, route and distance of your walks – with or without dogs! Have something different for lunch if you tend to eat the same things. Work in a different room for an hour, if you have the option.
Think of cooking as a different form of creative thinking at the end of the day.
Setting a time to go and prepare a meal is a good way of creating a hard stop on the working day.
Give Gousto or a similar service a try once in a while. They can be expensive long-term, but most have big new customer discounts and don’t tie you in. The choice of new recipes and the convenience of pre-assembled ingredients is a treat in the working week.
Organise the day into lots of micro slots, to push yourself towards achieving a specific goal during that hour or thirty minutes.
Take ten minutes out – that means away from screens and devices – after every 50 minutes, if you have to have a long video meeting. There’s even science to back this up, if you need to persuade fellow attendees.
If you love music, surround yourself with it and make a point of listening to something new every day.
11. VALUE TIME AWAY FROM YOUR DESK
People still think time not at a desk is dead time. Get away from the desk and see this as a positive, not something to feel guilty about. ‘A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world’ – John Le Carre. Pin that up in your office!
Arrange hangouts and check in on people. Have one-to-one phone calls or even walk and talks. Although WhatsApp and email are convenient a lot of the time, too much of it can be dehumanising.
Have a virtual coffee with that new person, or with colleagues you don’t have a reason to work with but who make your work more interesting or fulfilling.
Buddy up with a local home-working friend and plan regular walks into your day.
Have a big bottle of water on your desk and drink from it regularly. Use a favourite glass or cup to pour it into. Go for sparkling once in a while, for extra zing!