Before working at NOVOS, I didn’t have much experience working from home. My previous roles allowed a certain level of flexibility in terms of where I worked, but we were generally expected to be in a physical office. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot about the way everyone works and so, when joining NOVOS in the summer of 2021, I was looking for a role that afforded me more freedom – mainly a role that allowed me to work remotely.
Freelancers probably already have this style of working down to a T. For me, though, it certainly took some getting used to. Because I live about 2 hours away from the NOVOS office, I’ve had to unlearn being reliant on a physical office and create a flexible routine to help make sure I stay productive.
Tip 1: Create a Routine
Humans are creatures of habit, and not having a routine can make us feel a little off-kilter, so it’s important when you’re working from home to establish a good schedule. Get up at a good time, allow yourself time to wake up and practice some basic hygiene before grabbing a hearty breakfast.
It’s also important to schedule plenty of breaks away from your desk and screen. Think about it – when you’re in an office, you’re not working solidly for the entire 8-9 hours you’re there. You get up for coffee breaks, visit and chat with colleagues at their desks, and probably either leave for lunch or head to a separate area of the office to eat. Taking breaks is important for your productivity, your eyesight, and your mental health! Take a break, have a coffee, and maybe a KitKat.
Finally, make sure you switch off properly in the evenings. If you wouldn’t stay late in an office, don’t be tempted to work late when working from home just because there’s no commute. Your mental health will thank you for the evenings spent winding down and relaxing at the end of the day instead of putting in extra hours unnecessarily.
Tip 2: Create an Office Space
I’ve found that making sure I have a dedicated space to work in is vital to my productivity. I have a setup in the spare bedroom that serves me perfectly, and I consider myself really lucky to be able to have this area.
If you have the room, try to set up somewhere to work outside of your bedroom whether that’s the dining room, study, or even outside during sunny days. Working in the space you’re meant to rest can make your brain associate your bedroom with things other than snoozing, leading to difficulty falling asleep or sleepless nights.
However, if you don’t have anywhere else you’re able to set up a workspace (such as in a studio flat), there are some things you can do to help make you more productive from your bedroom.
- Set up a desk and chair away from your bed to help create a boundary between your sleeping and working area.
- Don’t work from your bed – you might get too comfy or be tempted to doze off, and it’s not great for your posture.
- Get dressed and make your bed – this sets another boundary that lets your brain know it’s time to work.
Tip 3: Stay Hydrated
This might seem silly, but it’s really easy to not drink enough water when you’re at home (another reason why scheduling breaks is important).
Ensuring you’re well-hydrated can do wonders for your productivity, keep you feeling alert, and improve your concentration. If you hate the taste of water, why not try keeping a jug of flavoured water in the fridge? Simply slice up some fresh fruit and add them into your water for a healthy twist on drinking squash or sugary drinks. Some great combinations include lemon and mint, strawberry and blueberry, and cucumber and lime.
Tip 4: Get Up at the Same Time Every Day
This goes hand in hand with establishing a good routine but is worth a special mention. Don’t be tempted to wake up as late as possible, roll out of bed, and go right to the computer – your alertness and productivity will suffer.
Find the sweet spot of getting enough sleep and being able to establish a good morning routine and get up at the same time every day – yes, even on the weekends. This ensures your body stays on the same schedule, making those tough Monday mornings much easier to face.
Tip 5: Communicate With Your Team
One of the things I miss the most about being in a physical office is the ability to communicate with my team in person. Only being able to speak with colleagues online can feel really limiting and it makes it much harder to explain certain things or build relationships. So keeping up with colleagues is extra important to help build rapport and ensure the information keeps flowing.
Here at NOVOS, we use Slack to communicate with team members, Google Meets to host meetings, and we also make use of Slack’s huddle feature for quick, informal chats! Not only that but we also have our once-a-month Culture Days in the office, which are always great days for team building and having fun together.
My Working From Home Routine
I keep my own routine daily routine fairly simple, but it makes it easy to follow and keeps my day running smoothly.
8:00 am – Alarm goes off – get up, shower, and make coffee (a vital step).
8:30 am – Start work. Admittedly, I don’t eat breakfast until around 10 am, so I usually take a little mid-morning break to whip up some brekkie.
12:00 pm – Have lunch. Sometimes this also involves going for a walk or spending some time on the cycling machine.
12:30 pm – Back to work – but this isn’t set in stone, and we have the option to work flexibly as long as we make up the hours later!
2:30 pm – A mid-afternoon break around this time allows me to refill my water, grab a snack, and have another cup of coffee if I need it.
4:30 pm – Finish work. Sometimes I finish up some bits or polish off a piece of work until 5 pm if I’ve taken a slightly longer break for lunch.
Of course, everyone’s daily schedule will look a little different. Some people choose to start work at 9:00 am or 9:30 am instead of 8:30 am, for example, while others take a longer lunch break and choose to work a bit later. Thankfully, we’re afforded a lot of flexibility here at NOVOS to work the hours that suit us best!