How to Work Effectively from Home and Take Care of your Wellbeing during COVID-19 times- Best Practices from mesh Playbook

Author: Najia Maqsood

The outbreak of COVID-19 has brought a host of new challenges for humanity. These are indeed difficult times but with every challenge comes new opportunities as well… Strengths & Opportunities are two of the key Quadrants of a SWOT analysis tool, implemented in case of crisis management, contingency, and business continuity planning scenarios.

Are you a Knowledge Worker? Are you new to the concept of Remote Working? … Ready or not, many coronavirus business continuity plans require remote working. Just last night, to tackle the global pandemic challenges, Dubai Economy has announced 80% of private-sector employees to work from home. Governments in several other countries across the globe are also opting for similar precautionary measures for the upcoming several weeks, making remote working not just an option but a necessity for preserving well being of human lives.

As the world is being forced into one of the history’s significant and largest work-from-home experiments; which it seems will change the way we work in the near future for good! Do you feel lost and unprepared?

Fear not because we have got you covered with some of the best practices and professional advice from the Freelancing world on Working Effectively from Home and Taking Care of your Wellbeing.

We at mesh believe that your health and wellbeing, and that of your family, should always be the priority as you work remotely. We are sharing these guidelines to help support you in working effectively at home while ensuring your wellbeing.

We understand that working from home or remotely may be a new experience for some colleagues or may feel very different from before. We know how important professional support is to help you do your work at it’s best. That said we have to be mindful and respectful of the enormous amount of change and competing priorities you may be experiencing. 

Staying Focused The current situation is new and disruptive, and it is unlikely to be focused all the time. That’s understandable. Here are some ways to help you maintain your focus as you juggle multiple responsibilities: 

Minimize distractions whenever possible (we understand this may be difficult with children at home). Some people cope well with background noise others don’t – you could try some low-level music or the TV, but if you’re someone who likes silence, then best to find a quieter area. 

• Set up your dedicated workspace in a separate room if you have available space. Creating a workspace will be easier for some than others. Try to find even a corner of a room that is your work zone can help you to focus. 

Keep your workspace tidy spend a few minutes at the end of each session sorting out things like paperwork and getting set up for the next day. Switch off for the day.

• Take regular breaks Enjoy your coffee, meal or physical activity breaks. See our tips below on maintaining a healthy mind and body. 

• Reward yourself  Find ways to make each task more enjoyable and rewarding in itself, and don’t forget to “treat yourself” and take a well-earned break when you are done with your tasks! 

Manage Your Time Effective time management helps maintain a comfortable focus, sense of achievement, and managing any stress and anxiety. 

Getting the Balance right These top tips could help you get the right balance between work and play

Schedule your day It is helpful to set up a schedule that works around family and care commitments to enable you to work most effectively. 

Set clear goals and priorities.Know what you’re working on. If this is unclear speak to your line manager who will be able to provide support and clarity. Set clear expectations with your clients as well.

• Organize and prioritize key tasks with a To-Do List. This will add structure to your day. Take Charge of Communication although your face-to-face contact may be limited now keeping communication flowing is crucial so that you stay connected with your clients and colleagues and exchange support when needed. 

Here’s how you could do this:

• Regular Checkins Find appropriate times to “check-in” with your clients, managers, and colleagues, whether that’s for daily catch-ups, small talk while you all make a coffee and take a break, or to discuss problems and ideas. 

• Using technology and Online Collaboration Tools to have a live friendly chat with, and check on your clients, team-mates, and colleagues will help with feelings of loneliness and isolation. Video calls over Skype, Microsoft Teams and GoToMeeting are a great way to virtually interact with colleagues and check-in. Instant messaging via Skype is also a great tool to avoid endless emails. 

Online social media platforms are a great place to connect with colleagues and talk about work and non-work related subjects. You could start a thread about a hobby or interest

• Let clients and colleagues know how best to reach you at home, whether that’s by mobile, skype or email. If helpful, redirect your office phone to your mobile. Let your manager and colleagues know how they can best get in touch with you during working hours. 

• Mind your (social) media. Think carefully about which notifications to keep on, and which to mute until later. Allocating time slots for checking your phone helps. You may find it helpful to keep away from news channels whilst you work, as ongoing reporting on COVID-19 may be counter-productive for your anxiety and focus. 

Balancing Work and Life Create physical boundaries between work and personal life. Make sure you can have time away from the home working environment. Laptops and mobiles can be useful for staying in touch with clients and co-workers, but they can also leave us feeling as though we’re “always on.” This can lead to burnout. Try to detach from work devices when your workday is finished.

• Agree and set your working hours for the day so you know when to log on and log off. It’s quite easy for the boundaries to become blurred when working at home.

• Get dressed for work. You might find it helps to have particular clothes for working at home. Dressing for work can set the right mental tone for the day.

• Get up at the same time as normal, follow your usual morning routines, and go to bed at your usual time. If you aren’t happy with your usual routine, this might be a chance to find what works for you.

•Find a routine with your family and friends which allows you to work. We appreciate that a lot of individuals will be finding it a challenge to manage both childcare and working from home, so try and find an efficient routine that allows you to get your work done uninterrupted. This might mean working flexibly outside of your normal working hours or setting up a schedule with your children at home.

Speak to your clients and line managers to agree on what will work best.

Healthy Body equals Healthy Mind: Managing your wellbeing and mental health- eat well and stay hydrated. Your appetite might change if your routine changes, or if you’re less active than you usually are.

• Eating regularly and keeping your blood sugar stable can help your mood and energy levels. 

• Drinking enough water regularly is also important for your mental and physical health.

• It is helpful to find out about ordering groceries online and getting food delivered and proactively booking a slot in the future in case you need it.

Support Networks: Always keep in touch with your support group which could act as an informal support network to check in on fellow group members who may struggle with loneliness and anxiety. 

Mesh Tip: We recommend you to connect with one of the Life Coaches registered on mesh platform to seek professional help in managing stress, anxiety or questions on work-life balance.

Stay active Build as much physical activity into your daily routine as possible. Any available space in your home or garden can be as good as a gym. Exercising at home can be simple and there are options for most ages and abilities, such as:

• Cleaning your home • Dancing to music • Going up and down stairs • Online exercise workouts that you can follow 

• Sitting less – if you notice you’ve been sitting down for an hour, just getting up to make a drink. Get as much fresh air as you can • Spending time in green space or bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing. It can improve your mood, reduce feelings of stress and make you feel more relaxed.

• If possible (please check and adhere to the latest government advice), go for a walk if this is safe to do and you can maintain social distancing

• Spend time with the windows open to let in the fresh air. Arrange a comfortable space to sit, for example by a window where you can look out over a view of trees or the sky, or watch birds and other animals.

Find ways to Relax and be Creative

There are lots of different ways that you can relax, take notice of the present moment and use your creative side. There are lots of online sites and support to explore. YouTube offers free information and classes from people around the world on literally thousands of things, so you can guide your practice with online teaching and support if you would find that helpful and inspiring. Some suggestions include:

• Arts and crafts, such as drawing, painting, collage, sewing, craft kits •Colouring • Mindfulness • Meditation • Playing musical instruments, singing or listening to music • Writing, Reading books, journals, and articles • Yoga

Keep your mind stimulated It’s important that, as well as being stimulated by your work, you find ways and time to stimulate your brain with other activities and interests. Set aside time in your routine for mentally engaging hobbies that you enjoy.

There are lots of apps and online courses that can help you learn new things, such as a foreign language you can use on your next holiday.

Make time for personal and professional development to keep the sense of continuous learning and growth going. We also encourage you to stay upto date with latest work trends and read more content on our mesh blog site.

Mesh tip: Last but not the least, join a skills marketplace platform like mesh, to keep honing your skills and earn an income working remotely right from the comfort of your home.

For now Stay Home, Stay Strong! We are all in this together.

You are welcome!

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