Smart Living | How to

How to | 19 Aug 2022

Working from home: You’ve been doing it wrong all this time

While many workers now enjoy WFH flexibility, it’s still important to manage your time, wellbeing and productivity better so as to avoid burnout.

Working from home… it’s a win/win, right? Companies reap the rewards of their employees’ rocketing productivity, while the rest of us enjoy greater wellbeing from a better work-life balance.

When the professional services firm Mercer surveyed 800 employers, 94% reported that their workers were either as or more productive while working remotely. Another study, this time from Owl Labs, suggests that full-time remote workers are 22% more likely to report being happy in their jobs than those who are in the office all the time.

But if you’re getting ready to pack your snaps and stationery into a cardboard box, well… steady on. The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) published a report last year with more nuanced, complex findings.

People who had transitioned to remote working during the pandemic had, they suggested, “experienced health and wellbeing impacts, with the most common being feeling less connected to colleagues (67%), taking less exercise (46%), developing musculoskeletal problems (39%) and disturbed sleep (37%).”

What are Brits missing most now many are working from home?

Vodafone UK has commissioned research to find out what people are missing most about not being in the office. Here’s what people think....

“Our findings reveal that although working from home can be beneficial for people’s health and wellbeing, there are stark differences in how different groups have been affected,” said Christina Marriott, Chief Executive of the RSPH. “For people who have multiple housemates or are working from their bedroom or a sofa, the impact on their mental and physical health is extremely concerning.”

So, how can you help ensure you reap the rewards of WFH, without falling prey to the pitfalls?

First things first: get out of that bed. The RSPH survey found that over one-in-four were working from home from either a sofa or a bedroom. Yet: “without schedules or boundaries, the lines between home and work life can become blurred,” says Leonie McIlroy, Head of Campaigns and Communications at Mental Health First Aid England. The organisation has published a guide to supporting your mental health with working from home.

“This can lead to overwork, stress and burnout. So try and stick to a consistent sleep and work pattern.”

“If you used to have a commute time, try and use that for some self-care,” suggests McIlroy. “For example, exercising, reading or listening to music before you start work. Most importantly, when your workday stops, stop working. It can be all too easy to ‘quickly check emails’ if you work in the same area as where you eat, sleep or socialise. If you can, shut down, stop checking emails and focus on your home life.”

If working from home is the new normal, let's make sure we do it right

Clare Corkish, Human Resources Director, Vodafone UK, shares some top tips on how we can work from home safely and effectively during lockdown.

Loneliness while working from home is common, says McIlroy. “Human interaction matters – whilst emails keep us connected in terms of work, we may not get those ‘water cooler’ moments to catch up and check in or to pick up on people’s emotional wellbeing.” She suggests using video calls instead of emails where appropriate.

If you’re struggling to kick your brain into action, Mcllory suggests outdoor exercise: “movement is good for your body and mind, and you may even find that a walking meeting can increase your creativity. Including some movement into your work routine will help maintain your physical and mental health. You’ll feel more awake and alert, and your concentration and sleep will improve.”

While it’s important to step away from the screen to preserve your sanity, there are also a number of apps and services that can help when you are in front of your screen.

Apps to improve your WFH experience

Clare Evans is a leading time management and productivity coach, having authored Time Management for Dummies and How to Work Effectively from Home.

“Whether your remote working consists of working from home or working away from the office on different sites, when visiting clients and customers, it’s helpful to have the right apps and tech to make your life easier,” she says, recommending the following apps:

‘Pomodoro’-style apps: “Focus Keeper or similar. Wherever you’re working, it’s easy to get distracted, lose focus or lose track of time. Use these apps to work in blocks of 25 minutes with a five-minute break. They are especially helpful when you want to stay focused. Knowing there’s a timer counting down means you’re less likely to get distracted.”

Project management tools: “Trello, Asana or will keep track of tasks and projects. Assign tasks to team members and check status and completion dates. Integrates with your email and calendar for quick and easy access and updating.”

Calendar apps: “I like Acuity, vCita, or Calendly. They enable you to sync up your calendar [with others] and forget about playing email or phone tag trying to find a suitable date. Anyone with the link can access your calendar to see when you’re available. You can adjust availability and limit bookings so you don’t get overbooked. Integrates with Zoom to create a virtual meeting at the time of booking.”

Note-taking: “Evernote is a useful tool, easy to access across different devices. Take notes, schedule tasks, link to your calendar, add useful info from files and web pages directly from your browser.”

No two jobs are exactly alike, so the exact mix of techniques and apps will vary from person to person. Even so, with this guide under your arm, a more balanced WFH life is well within reach.

Stay up-to-date with the latest news from Vodafone by following us on Twitter and signing up for News Centre website notifications.