Coronavirus and working from home: top 10 tips

Prospect · 17 March 2020

As coronavirus (or COVID-19) continues to spread, the government has advised that people should work from home where possible.

Due to the nature of their work, some employees will not be able to work from home, but for those that can, it is something that can bring both opportunities and challenges, although this period is likely going to be longer than any working from home period workers have experienced.

Working from home can be a good way to close off from the distractions that an office environment can bring – particularly large, open-plan office spaces.

But it can also pose challenges – and these must be mitigated before any period of working from home, to ensure the arrangement works well for both workers and employers.

Below are some top tips to ensure a healthy working from home situation, while members can download the full guide to working from home during the coronavirus pandemic.

1. Stay in touch

Keep in contact with your colleagues and manager. Use the phone if possible – it’s more personal than emailing.

As well as the obvious teamworking benefits of talking to colleagues, keeping in touch also helps to prevent both suspicion that you might not be being very productive, and some of the negative psychological effects of being alone for long periods. You should also stay in touch with your union rep for any help or developments about what is happening.

2. Get your IT set up

It’s important that working from home causes as little disruption as possible to your normal work so, in many cases, IT provision is crucial.

Ensure you have access to document storage systems, that your email works remotely and that any software you need is installed on your home computer or laptop. If you have a work mobile phone make sure this is working too and you have the charger.

If possible, test all of this before you begin an extended period of home working. There is nothing more frustrating than a colleague being unable to work properly because they have failed to set up their IT.

3. Keep an eye on your hours

Our recent survey reported that one aspect of working from home that members liked was the freedom to organise their own working time but they didn’t like the temptation to work longer hours.

Keep a diary or use an online hours calculator to ensure good discipline around working hours. It is a good idea to proactively communicate your working hours to others in your team.

4. If you’re ill, don’t work

Whether you’ve got coronavirus symptoms or another illness, if you’re too ill to work, you’re too ill to work. It doesn’t matter if you’re based in the office or at home – sick leave policies still apply. Again, keep in touch with your line manager and colleagues on a regular basis.

5. Separate family responsibilities

Working from home can give greater flexibility to manage work tasks around family and caring responsibilities, but you can’t be at work and take care of domestic responsibilities at the same time. Ensure that your caring and work responsibilities do not conflict.

6. Choose a good room

It’s not always possible but if you can, set up your working from home arrangement in a separate room of your home. This will allow you to deal better with the blurred boundaries between home and work that working from home inevitably entails. It will also help to liberate your work time from domestic distractions.

7. Keep your diary up to date

Keep updated some form of electronic calendar or diary and share it with your colleagues. That way, they know where you are and when you can be contacted (for instance when you are on leave, on sick leave, taking time off in lieu, etc.)

8. Other people

You might find that you are working from home at the same time as a partner or housemates. Try to talk to them about your work pattern and expectations before you start work from home.

9. Standards

Maintain professional standards when you’re working from home and respect your working environment. It’s a good idea to dress as you’d dress for the office and try to keep your workspace clean and tidy.

10. Stay in touch with your union

We will be providing regular updates via our website and social media channels. Also stay in touch with your local rep if you have one. We are here to help as well as be a network of information.

Have we missed anything? What are your top tips for working from home? Let us know by tweeting us @ProspectUnion.

Read more

See our latest advice on coronavirus

Read our general advice on homeworking

Members: download our members’ guide to working from home during the coronavirus pandemic

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