Eureka’s 10 top tips for optimising working from home

We hope you and your families are all safe at home and well.

We know that working from home can be challenging, particularly if you’re sharing space with other home workers and also children. Since all of us at Eureka have been home based for a number of years (some more than 20!) and as we begin our sixth week of lockdown, we thought we’d share some of our pearls of wisdom to help you stay sane and work as productively as you can.

We hope our collective advice is helpful in some way.

Stay safe and don’t hesitate to call us if there’s anything we can do to help.

Warm wishes, Teresa and the team

Eureka's 10 top tops for optimising working from home.

Find a desk or table that you can make your exclusive workspace. Ideally this will be a separate room so you can avoid being distracted by whatever else is going on in the home. But if you don’t have a spare room try to create a boundary (physical and/or mental) between home and work. If your chosen workspace is in a family room do take the time to clear work off the table when you’ve finished so that you create some separation between home and work life. You don’t want to be reminded about work when you’re on ‘home time’.

2. Stick to set office hours

It’s very easy to slip into taking calls or answering emails at every hour of the day. Having clear office hours – while respecting the occasional need to work longer, or take an international call early morning or late evening – helps ensure that work/life balance doesn’t suffer. Stay in control by setting your own hours.

3. Build in a mental commute

Since you no longer have to travel between home and work, you can still be in work mode when it’s really time to clock off. I find building in a sort of ‘mental commute’ helps to separate the two and frees my mind of work. Sit in the garden, go for a walk or talk to your pets.

4. Take a break

In the office it’s all go, go, go with no time for anything. You tend to eat breakfast at your desk about 11am, slurp a couple of lukewarm coffees and that’s it for the day. At home, though, you are significantly more productive without interruptions (well, you were until the schools shut anyway!). Plus you’ve not wasted time on travel, so overall you’re probably getting through a lot more work. Reward yourself with some breaks: make a proper lunch, have a walk in the garden, spend half an hour reading. It’s not wasted time, it’s recharging time.

5. Don't forget to exercise

Even if you can’t get outside to walk, run or cycle (and this may be forced upon us whether we like it or not) commit to a regular online exercise class that suits you, whether that’s your usual yoga or Pilates teacher broadcasting alone from a homemade studio or Joe Wicks beaming from his living room.

6. Switch off out of working hours

Ideally, distract yourself with non virus-related entertainment. Our digital world gives us more new content than we’ll get through in a lifetime – as well as the ability to rewatch old faves. And there’s still no substitute for a good old-fashioned book to transport you (if only temporarily) away from work and away from the chaotic world in which we currently find ourselves.

7. Stay in Touch

You might be missing the ‘watercooler/kitchen contact time’ with colleagues, and feel a bit bereft. Instead of sending another email, how about phoning your colleague or having a video chat over coffee to talk through something? We all speak regularly by phone and Skype, and we’re definitely using Skype video and Zoom a lot more now.

7. Leave the PJs in the bedroom

We’ve all done it; got up early to work on something and then just not got dressed. But while being relaxed and comfortable means you can leave your usual work dress in the wardrobe, actually getting dressed and wearing something you would wear in the office does make it easier to get your creativity and work energy flowing.

9. Stay Secure

There’s a risk that important information might be breached or lost if you’re accessing office databases and systems from home, or using personal devices for work. Brush up on your organisation’s data security policies, and if you’re not sure about anything check with your manager or the IT team.

When you’re preparing to take a video call, as well as brushing your hair or putting your lipstick on (Marcus doesn’t do this often by the way), it’s always good practice to check that your office backdrop doesn’t have any unexpected surprises. Mandy has left her ironing board and hoover in shot to the amusement of call attendees. Some intruders are more welcomed at the moment though and can be good for the soul. Hannah’s cat Jasper does love her keyboard and has the best cat purr ever. Guaranteed to keep all callers calm in times of crisis.