Working from Home in Lockdown 3.0: A Survival Guide
For small businesses, the government’s announcement of a third national lockdown was probably just about the last thing they wanted to hear at the beginning of a new year. Recovery plans were put on hold, shops and offices closed and the kitchen table was once again cleared off in preparation for another stint of working from home.
Last year, we put together guides on all aspects of working from home, from managing teams to staying motivated. In light of this latest lockdown, we revisited some of our favourite tips and advice from these articles, as well as adding in a couple of brand new ones.
Create a home workspace that suits you
Whether you like to work with plenty of background noise and opportunities for conversation, or prefer uninterrupted silence, it’s important that your working environment at home fulfils these needs. Take the time to set up your workspace in a spot that will keep you motivated and calm. It could be a peaceful corner by a window in the spare bedroom, or in the thick of the household action at the kitchen table. It is a good idea to ensure you can sit comfortably for extended periods however. Working in bed or from a reclining sofa could well be a recipe for back pain!
Make sure you’re getting out in the daylight
Unlike the first lockdown, we’re now in the middle of British winter, which means limited opportunities to get outside in the daylight and even less chance of catching some sunshine. Whilst the winter sun might not be capable of providing all the vitamin D your body needs, there are several health benefits of natural light, from boosting your mental state to improving sleep patterns. If at all possible, try to take a walk or get some outdoor exercise in the middle of the day, giving your mind and body a break from long periods of sitting indoors.
Design a foolproof daily routine
Without the need to go into the office, or even see anyone outside of your immediate family, it’s pretty tempting to stay in bed and work in your dressing gown all day. However, in the longer term, these habits can really start to sap your energy, mood and motivation. Try to create a routine that involves regular breaks, defined meal times and opportunities to socialise, even if it’s just with family members. In the longer term, a routine like this is much more likely to keep you feeling positive and productive.
Commit to your work-life balance
Across the first two lockdown periods, we saw that one of the biggest challenges from working from home was managing a work-life balance. Without a clearly defined beginning or end to the working day, many of us were working later and later, always armed with the excuse of answering ‘just one more email’. If you own or run a small business, you’re undoubtedly used to long hours, but it’s so important to balance the hard work with hobbies, exercise and quality time with family and friends.
Try something new
This one might seem a little strange, especially in the middle of a lockdown, but picking up a new hobby or learning a skill could be hugely beneficial, both personally and professionally. Not only does the act of learning have long term benefits to your health, it also releases dopamine and creates new neural pathways in the brain. You could brush up on your baking skills, improve your running, or learn a skill that could help you professionally, like learning a language or how to build a website.
A mental health survey taken in November 2020 reported that as many as 25% of adults in the UK had experienced feelings of loneliness last year, exacerbated by the inability to meet friends and family face to face. When you are working from home for long periods, it’s incredibly important to make the time to stay connected, even if it’s just a 20 minute video call over lunch, or an hour’s walk after work with a friend. Even if you’re feeling OK during this lockdown, keep a look out for friends and colleagues who might be struggling; sometimes a few kind words or a listening ear can really make all the difference.
Whilst this might not be how we all imagined starting 2021, it’s important to remember that this situation is only temporary, and a vitally important step in the battle against Covid-19. If you can dig deep, stay resilient, proactive and optimistic, there’s every chance of better days ahead for small businesses all across the UK.
- Support for businesses from the government: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support
- NHS tips for mental health during Covid-19: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/coronavirus-covid-19-staying-at-home-tips/