Separating work and home life - Finding balance in the unknown.

Working from home can be full of challenges and we’re here to help. We’ve previously explored how companies can approach the transition to remote work for their employees. Below we discuss working virtually in more depth, supplying insights and resources for individual team members, as well as for team leaders. Now that many of us have been moved to home working this proves to be as important as ever.

1. The Importance of a designated workspace 

desk set up

Your home office should be a designated workspace that encourages creativity and productivity while minimizing distraction. Many of us have very quickly had to create a designated workspace separate from areas of your home where you may relax, sleep, or eat. Your workspace can be any place that offers some privacy where you can ‘meet’ with colleagues without distraction. It should include all the amenities that you need to be productive at work, including high-speed internet or a VPN if your company provides one, a desk, a comfortable chair, and office supplies you would typically need in your office. No matter where your workspace is, it is important to ensure your set up is right for you.  

study recently published in the World Federation of Occupational Therapists Bulletin found that the best home workspace set up tips include: 

  • Taking postural breaks (i.e., standing, walking, etc.) every 30 min 
  • Positioning your monitor with the top of the monitor at eye level and with viewing distance from eyes to the monitor screen at the user’s arm’s length away (closed fist) 
  • Extending knees at least 3 finger-widths past the front edge of their chair seat while working with their back against the backrest 
  • Positioning the height of keyboard low enough so that the arms are relaxed at both sides with the elbows bent at approximately 90 degrees

2. Setting and sticking to a routine  

At Taylor & Francis we understand that finding a work-life balance can be difficult, especially when we are working where we live and living where we work. Therefore, a great routine is key to promoting a more productive remote work-life to ensure your workday remains as efficient as possible. Below you will find some of our tips on how to adjust your daily routines to help while working from home… 

  • Decide and maintain your working hours 
  • Schedule your breaks, and ensure these are taken in their entirety 
  • Set ground rules with the people you live with 
  • Try to separate your workspace from your living space 
  • Use and utilizing digital tools and services available to you (calendar app, Teams, Zoom) 
Setting and sticking to a routine

3. Improving communication, connection, and encouraging advocacy  

Improving communication,

Maintaining effective communication can be a challenge while working from home. It is an essential practice to ensure teams remain focused and engaged, and targets continue to be met – this has been particularly important since the COVID-19 outbreak saw more of us working from home than ever before. Whether you work in a team of 2 people or 20 people it is important to foster an effective communication strategy with your colleagues to ensure team success and one of the most useful tools for a remote team to stay as productive as possible is overcommunication.  

Overcommunication may sound counterintuitive but when done effectively it can help your colleagues feel valued, ensure everyone has received and understood the message and that crucial details are never missed. The key to effective virtual over-communication is delivering simple, concise messages regularly, holding short frequent meetings and ensuring all necessary information is passed on in a timely manner. Announcements for the completion of projects, or even status updates for projects may seem forced or strange at first, but communicating these milestones and updates encourages team collaboration, letting all members of a team know what is happening in other parts of their team or company. This will help avoid “out of sight, out of mind” issues which can be a significant problem for remote workers. 

We all miss face-to-face interactions with colleagues but, with the help of some of the digital tools previously mentioned, it is always a great idea to take a couple of minutes out of your day to catch up with colleagues and have an informal conversation. It can feel counter-productive but taking some time out to have a social catch-up can help boost team morale and supply the connection and inclusion that comes more naturally in a physical workplace. 

Our 4 focus areas to make virtual teams more effective are covered in this infographic based on an article in a recent issue of Engineering Management:

4 focus areas to make virtual teams more effective-1189

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought us all a lot of challenges, many we have never faced before when it comes to our work and research. We hope the points and tips discussed in this article have been beneficial for you, whether you will be making a conscious decision to simply take some time out to catch up with colleagues or rearrange your desk set up, to ensure it is right for you. We hope that these will help to improve your experience while you continue working virtually. 

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Further reading related to Virtual Working:

In a time of COVID-19 pandemic, stay healthy, connected, productive, and learning: words from the editorial team of HRDI 

An affordance perspective of team collaboration and enforced working from home during COVID-19