Coronavirus:  6 top tips for working from home during the outbreak

The COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak is triggering working from home on a scale never seen before.  Around the world, countries are in various stages of lockdown – with many people attempting to continue their work from home.

Although many companies have long embraced the benefits of flexible working, there are still a significant number, even within the FinTech industry, who haven’t.

This enforced period of working from home could be the catalyst that breaks down those final barriers to a truly flexible workforce.   But working from home doesn’t come without its challenges, especially so during this uncertain time –where the usual concerns around productivity and technology, may be overtaken by more fundamental issues, such as the very survival of the business you work for and even your own and your loved ones' personal health.    We share our tips for staying productive, whilst looking after your health, in this difficult time.

1) Wake up early

Get ahead of the day, by channelling your inner Michelle Obama (4.30am) or, slightly more realistic for most, your inner Oprah Winfrey (6am) and set your alarm early.  This will create a valuable window to clear your head before starting work.   It will give you time to ensure you don’t let your health and wellbeing goals slide – perhaps with a quick ‘hit’ session, an outside walk or run (government guidelines permitting) or maybe some mindfulness and yoga exercises.

2) Identify your 'office' space

Identify your designated workplace –ideally not in the same room that you sleep.  The more like a formal office environment this is, the better for ensuring a good level of concentration.  

3) Set your goals

Set (or agree with your manager) the goals that you will be focussed on whilst working from home.   Break these larger goals down into what you will achieve, by the middle, and by the end of the day.   Share these goals with your manager or team, as this will make you accountable for their achievement.   Communicate your progress with your team, and generally keep them informed. It’s important to remember that the natural updates and communication that occur when you are working in the same place, will not be happening...so regularly communicate with your colleagues to keep them updated.

4) Structure your day

When you step away from office working, it’s easy for your usual routine to go out of the window but it’s important not to let this happen. Giving structure to your day is more crucial than ever, especially if you are prone to distractions.   Plan your food for the week, so that you do not need to think afresh every day.

For some, working from home can mean there is a tendency to overwork, to prove that they are being effective or because there is no formal stop to the working day.  There may be even more likelihood of this during the outbreak – with other activities and social events being cancelled.   But overworking can be harmful, and this lack of balance brings with it risks of depression, burnout and fatigue.  Make sure you take breaks during the day and give yourself time to re-charge, re-energise and look after others, as well as ensure you finish work at the usual time.  

5) Embrace technology

In today’s world, we have many platforms that allow for easy telephone conferences and communication with colleagues and clients, from Teams (Microsoft 365) and Google Hangouts, to Zoom and Gotomeeting.  With reduced in-person contact, video calling is a great way to maintain relationships – both on a personal and professional basis.    Though be aware that you may need to switch platform if your favoured option struggles to cope with the increased demand caused by the outbreak.   MicrosoftTeams was unavailable for four hours as millions of people started logging in from home, crashing the platform, and Zoom has advised that they may need to restrict the level of service available to customers on their free plan.

6) Stay abreast of what's happening

In this constantly evolving situation, it's important to keep up to date with how events are unfolding and how it might affect you on a personal and professional level.   The COVID-19 coronavirus is having a huge impact on the global economy, so it is important to stay informed as to how your industry is being impacted and what measures you can take to help your company and clients. On a personal level, it’s important to heed government advice – and do what you can to protect yourself and look after others. Take care to pay attention to credible sources but avoid overdosing on too much news – as this may make you more anxious than necessary.  

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