Despite some easing of the lockdown, many people will continue to work from home for the foreseeable future.
As part of our Shared & Halved series of articles, we are looking at ways to help our clients through these unprecedented times, by sharing legal insights relating to the current pandemic and insights helpful for everyday living in the ‘new normal’.
At Shoosmiths, more than 1500 lawyers and support staff are working from home. For this insight, Shoosmiths Serious Injury team members, Sharon Banga, Amy Greaves and Helen McKenzie share their Top Tips for home working based on their experiences during the lockdown period:
Home working during lockdown comes with pros and cons. We revel in not having the daily commute, and, being at home, having everything we need at our fingertips. But for others it may present challenges – using shared space effectively or balancing other commitments such as childcare. So what can we do to cultivate a harmonious and productive environment?
- Communication: if you live with a spouse or partner, communication is key for ensuring you have undisturbed meetings and calls. Set some time aside before work to tell each other when your calls and meetings are and wherever possible try to undertake these at different times.
- Wellbeing: while we are in lockdown, looking after your wellbeing is paramount and exercise is more important than ever. Ensure to get an hour of exercise per day – you could even walk around the house while on calls, if appropriate. It is also very important to stay hydrated – as you may have a coffee/tea run at work, do so at home.
- Quiet time: We may be working from home but this does not mean that the tasks we undertake are any different to being in the office. Everyone needs quiet time to concentrate on a project or task. If you live with a partner/spouse, have a quiet hour where you agree no calls will be made/taken and headphones can always be used to block out sound.
- Build a routine: Adults and children, alike, thrive on routine, so put in place some structure to your day. Decide what hours you need to devote to work. If you have a partner, agree who will be working and at what times. Try to stick to this as much as possible but be flexible if needed. You both have a boss that you want to keep happy so on some days one job may have to take priority. Once a work schedule is established you can then work out a structure for the children. If this is broken down into more manageable time slots, then it becomes far less daunting.
- Nap times: For those of us who are lucky enough to have children that nap, this can free up an hour, or even three. Use this time as wisely as you can. If your children are keeping you up at night, try and catch up on some sleep. If you need to focus on work, do so. If you need to catch up with general life admin and the endless washing children create, then now is the time.
- Be Strict: It is easy to lose track of time when working from home, as, for some, there may be fewer distractions. Agree a start and finish time for the working day and if you have a spouse/partner, make each other stick to it.
- Be honest with your employer: Most employers will be understanding of the new demands this pandemic is putting on you. They may even be in a similar position. Keeping your employer updated on your work pattern and coming to a reasonable agreement if this needs to change because of the need to prioritise your family is essential. Thereafter letting them know when you will be working instead, be it an early start, a late finish or a few hours over the weekend is also key.
- Reach out: The present circumstances can be isolating at times. Rest assured, your colleagues, family and friends are likely to be feeling the same as you. Be kind to yourself and remember to reach out to those you would usually talk to when needed by telephone / video call. This can help lighten the mood, ensure you stay connected and is a great way of bouncing ideas off each other as you would when you’re in the office; be it about childcare or a work issue! This can be especially important if you don’t have a partner to share childcare with.
The aim is to be able to perform your role to the same level that you would be able to do in an office and for some this may mean making further adjustments. These preliminary top tips should assist with structuring your day and helping to create productive environments not only for you and your family.