There are definite benefits to home working, as many people are finding out. You’re probably not missing those traffic jams, or that overcrowded commuter train filled with the noise of nose blowing, and your time is suddenly your own. However, it is also natural to feel isolated, bored or anxious when removed from the bosom of your fellow workers (although, in some cases, this can also be a benefit!). There is an art to managing your own time in a way that helps you to be both productive at work and relaxed at home.

HOW DO I LOOK AFTER MY MENTAL HEALTH WHEN HOME WORKING?

The key thing when working from home is to identify when your home is your office, and when it is your home. If you can achieve this, you can enjoy the best of both worlds, with a shorter, more productive working day and more flexibility in your leisure time. But if you allow the two to merge into one messy combo, you will never know when to switch into ‘work mode’ and when to switch off.

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Here are some key things to consider when adjusting to home working:

1. ROUTINES

Routines will help you work efficiently. Get up at the same time each day, and spend your old ‘commute’ time exercising or reading. The Baron recommends leaving your ‘home’ for a walk, and then returning to your ‘office’ (spoiler alert: it’s the same place) in a different mindset. At the end of your working day, shut down your email and your work brain on time, and perhaps go for another walk before returning to your ‘home’ to relax.

The Baron’s Tip: Don’t just roll out of bed to begin work in your pyjamas.

2. ESCAPES

Escaping from your work for a five-minute break every hour will improve your productivity while benefitting your mental health. Take plenty of short breaks to make yourself a cup of tea and have a non-work chat with someone. Escape from your desk for an hour for lunch, and schedule a time each day to head to the garden or a local green space.

The Baron’s Tip: Regular escapes will help to avoid you feeling ‘trapped’.

3. BOUNDARIES

Setting clear boundaries between your work self and your home self is essential for your mental health. When you’re ‘at work’, use a sign or a closed door to let your family or housemates know that you’re not to be disturbed. Work is a serious business, it doesn’t become less so just because you’re at home. In the same way, when you’re ‘out of office’ and spending time with your family, don’t answer work emails. Working from home offers flexibility, but only by setting clear boundaries will you take advantage of this.

The Baron’s Tip: Use a headset to keep your work calls separate from your home.

4. INTERACTIONS

Interactions with other human beings are why many people enjoy working in a busy office. It is easy to feel isolated when working from home, so make sure you schedule in regular interactions: phone your manager or colleagues to share successes or worries; interact fully in online sessions; schedule in socially distanced coffee meetings in the real world; and meet housemates at the kettle at an agreed time.

The Baron’s Tip: If you’re talking to yourself, it’s probably time to talk to someone else.

5. RELAXATION

One of the biggest dangers of working from home is that your office is always available so work becomes all-consuming. It’s important to find both times and ways to switch off and relax. Beware of getting into a loop where your work day feels interrupted, so you’re constantly ‘catching up’ in evenings and weekends. Schedule in walks, runs, meditation, yoga, work-outs, sport for your down time. If you’re busy with those you won’t be tempted to check your emails.

The Baron’s Tip: Switch that mobile phone off occasionally and stop to smell the roses.

6. TRIAL AND ERROR

It’s okay to take some time to adjust to working from home. If your office isn’t comfortable, try changing the location, the furniture or the lighting. If you’re feeling tired, try starting and finishing your working day earlier. If you hate online meetings, schedule in a few more calls and socially-distanced meetings. Moving from the office to home working is a massive deal, particularly while dealing with the stress of a global pandemic, so it will take a period of trial and error until you find new ways of working that work for you.

The Baron’s Tip: Switch that mobile phone off occasionally and stop to smell the roses.

7. HELPING OUT

Remember that your colleagues are in the same boat and would appreciate a call. Helping others will help your home-working self, as it will give you some perspective on your own concerns. It will also create that sense of camaraderie and support that is a part of the best offices, and remind you that you’re not working in isolation but as part of a team.

The Baron’s Tip: Don’t forget that you’re still part of a team.

WHERE CAN I FIND ADVICE ON HOMEWORKING?

You can find advice on mental health and homeworking from the NHS’s EveryMindMatters, and from the mental health charities MIND and the MentalHealthFoundation, among others. Also remember that some people have been working from home for years, by choice, from writers and artists to freelancers in businesses ranging from IT to tutoring. If you know someone, ask them for some tricks of the trade.

There will always be people who love homeworking, and others who miss the office. Whichever you are, try to find new routines that benefit your work and play. To help you remember the tips above, the initial letters form the mnemonic REBIRTH. This is a good way of thinking about your new existence. Rather than mourning the old office, try to embrace the new one, with its freedom, flexibility and independence.

LEARN MORE ABOUT 20 THE BARONS

At 20TheBarons we offer a collection of seven individually-styled serviced apartments in the Richmond-upon-Thames area of London. If you want to stay a while and need to work from home, we’d be happy to discuss your personal requirements for your office space and give it our customary attention.

If you want to want to talk to me, Ali, this is my business and I’m a Londoner who has lived in this area all my life. We have been hosting business travellers and families from around the world for many years. I would love to talk to you about how we can help your relocation feel like you’ve not just moved house, but moved home.

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