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'Commute' like a boss - a coping strategy for working from home

'Commute' like a boss - a coping strategy for working from home

Nicola Hopes

6 October 2020

In the increasingly frequent, and occasionally baffling, updates from the government, it’s become clear that the advice for the foreseeable future is to work from home if you can… which could last for 6 months.

For some of the people I work with, working from home is a dream. No traffic. No noisy office. Fresh lunch. Rooms at a temperature they control (not the officious air conditioning unit). No random armpit to be jammed into on the train, tram or tube.

But many find it really hard. They describe a lack of demarcation between the working day and ‘home time’ and a lack of thinking time.

Thanks to great broadband and portable devices we don’t have to be away from emails for any length of time… but that’s been the case for a while now so what is it about increased working from home that’s creating these issues?

Blurred lines

  • Guilt – working from home used to be the weekly or monthly treat where you can have a 30-minute lie in and then actually get some work done. Those memories of the ‘treat’ stay with us. Therefore, we feel the need to do extra hours to repay the favour. Particularly when we have colleagues that still have to go into the office.
  • Role modelling bad habits – you want your stakeholders or team to see you as ‘pulling your weight’. The stakeholder of a friend of mine recently said the phrase ‘Well, I’m the only person still on my phone at 9pm’ to which my friend’s response was ’Yes, and…?’.
  • Just one more – if you don’t have a train to catch or traffic to beat it’s tempting to do just one more email or read one more document before calling it a night.
  • Screen sickness – because all discussions now have to be a meeting or a call, it’s easy to fill the diary and lose the thinking time. Even for an extrovert like me, doing 10 hours straight staring at a screen is exhausting.
  • Gear change – no time for the 180-degree switch from awesome colleague to the chef, cleaner, child minder with Marie Kondo-esque domestic skills.

If this is where you are, you’re not alone. But it’s not a healthy place to be longer term.

Commute like a boss

If you are working from home, try booking a 30 minute ‘commute’ slot in your diary at the end of the day. And stick to it!

Do the things the normal commute might give you, for example:

  • Think, not do – reflect on key discussions or decisions. Plan. Strategise.
  • Prioritise – have a look at the ‘to do’ list and get ruthless on the key things.
  • Relax - stream new music; listen to an audiobook, a podcast or the radio (sing like there’s nobody listening, even if they are); or just read an old-fashioned book.
  • Stretch – your body may be telling you that hunching over a laptop screen all day isn’t good for you. Stretch out the back and neck.
  • Exercise – take a walk to create a breakpoint and some mindful time.
  • Do a mindless task – my husband loves to mow the lawn after a long day before engaging brain on the next thing (each to their own, we have a tidy lawn!).

If you are actually commuting, think about what you're using the time for and how you give yourself the best transition between work and home time.

So how are you going to commute like a boss?

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