12 tips til at arbejde hjemme i COVID-19 krisen - Åbn

12 tips for working at home during the COVID-19 crisis

With the spread of COVID-19, many companies are sending employees home to work from home. As a company heavily impacted by COVID-19, we're sharing our tips for maintaining your mental health as you adjust to this new life.

This is a long post, but I hope it gives you some help and support in the coming days.

It's ok to feel bad

Modern businesses love to embrace open office plans, and they certainly have their pitfalls. But switching to a completely remote setting is a big shift, and it's ok to feel uncomfortable. Even those of us (myself included) who prefer to work flexibly will feel a difference. We take for granted what being around people gives us, even if those people are wandering around in the background and not interacting with us.

Switching to the home workplace can leave you feeling distracted, anxious or unfocused, and you may not know why. Being alone all day, even with colleagues in a chat window, can make you feel isolated and hyper-focused on negative thoughts. It's easy to get the spiral in the tone from a single chat message.

And that is before acknowledging that these are unusual and stressful circumstances. You are working at home due to a looming pandemic. It is possible that your spouse or child was also sent home, so there is a new and different situation around you. There is a lot of uncertainty and sudden changes in your life.

The main take-away from this guide, the one thing you need to absorb is this: If you're feeling bad, reconnect with the world. You are now in an isolated environment, and the easiest way to short-circuit feelings of stress and turmoil is to detach yourself from your office life and reconnect with the larger world outside of it.

Normally my main suggestion would be to go somewhere people are and have a single interaction. For example, go to a café and buy a drink. Chat with the cashier. Say hello to a neighbor. These small interactions reset your brain's threat meter and help the earth with you.

However, since we are in a time of social distancing, limit interaction between people. Therefore, you can instead try to go for a walk and just observe the people around you. Note people in the park or construction crews working. You can also take a break to people watch from your window and put some sun on your face – especially on these days of complete sunshine! If you don't want to go out, you can reconnect by finding something going on online outside of your job. We live in a world of digitization, where people meet and share online. Therefore, use the time to listen to podcasts or find vloggers. It is a human event that reconnects you with the world.

Life in an office is something else . You take breaks, chat with colleagues and eat lunch in an environment carefully tended by a team of office managers, coordinators, caterers and cleaners.

And now you have to recreate that rhythm yourself...

Get dressed

This one appears on most blogs and is an important one. Changing into “work clothes” helps put you into a “work” mindset, but more importantly it takes you out of a “rest”. I have no doubt you can still function in your pajamas, but there are mental hits to spending all day in the same clothes you wore to bed. Even a look at your unkempt self in the mirror has an effect.

So put on some work clothes. They don't have to be the best clothes, just not your pajamas. Throw on some jeans and a bra. Something I have found is that I get colder at home, probably due to the lack of movement and people around me. So I wear jeans, but also put a blanket on my lap and wear slippers. You may also find that you need to dress warmer.

Keep commuting

If you normally commute to the office, it means that you are used to going out, being around people and doing some amount of physical activity before starting the work day. Working at home means you no longer have that routine. But you can recreate it.

Start your day with a bike ride. Take your dog for a walk. Go to the bakery and have a coffee for breakfast. So get back to your desk and start your day. You can also recreate the commute by taking a walk after work to decompress. This ramp-up and ramp-down period is good for both getting you into a working environment and helping you reconnect with the outside world.

Separate your desk

You've probably heard it already, but having a separate desk is important. You must be able to signal a shift.

If you don't have room for a separate desk, do something to signal the switch. Set up a small office at your kitchen table with a company logo mug, framed photo of your family, even an old landline as a symbol of "the office." When it's time for dinner, don't put it off to the side. Put it away and take it out in the morning.

We do this to separate time and areas in our minds. If you've ever had trouble sleeping, you've probably heard the advice to only use your bed for sleep and sex. The same principle is here. Have a designated work area so you can disconnect at the end of the day.

Pay attention to ergonomics. If you're used to a nice standing desk and mechanical keyboard, and now you have a laptop and an IKEA table, your body will suffer. Don't ignore the pain. Tell your manager and try to figure out a game plan that will give you the setup you need. Stretch regularly and watch your posture.

Keep your work area clean

Your large open plan office has a team of cleaners and administrators looking after it. You walk through conference rooms, lounge areas and dining rooms without piles of trash in your peripheral vision. At home, it's just you. And a cluttered workspace will affect your productivity and mental health.

When I say workspace, I don't just mean your desktop. Your workspace is now any area you may enter throughout your work day: the bathroom, the living room, the kitchen, etc. I strongly encourage you to keep them tidy because clutter will weigh you down in ways you may not realize.

Keep your work area tidy, keep counter tops and surfaces clean and open the curtains to let in more light.

A secondary workspace

Think about how you normally function in your company's office. Do you stay at your desk all day? Or do you move to other areas, such as meeting rooms or sofas? If possible, restore these areas at home. Go to the sofa for a call or have a meeting outside if you have an outside room. You move a lot more in an office than you might realize, and changing areas gives you a physical and mental break.

This is also useful in homes with more than one person working at home. You can exchange who works where based on who has a meeting when. Yes, you can have conflicting encounters, and that's something you'll have to work out with each other and your teams.

This may seem to contradict the “separate your desk” advice, which is why I focus on meetings here. Calling on the balcony is different from coding in bed. If I have a short call on the phone, I always go out. It's nice to have a break and, by the way, really healthy with fresh air.

Stock of snacks and drinks

Your office probably has snacks and you probably eat them. You might not be able to find (or afford) the fancy energy bar this week, but you can stock up on mix, granola bars, veggies & hummus, and bags of popcorn. Think about when you usually have a snack… is it right after a meeting? Does your colleague bring you something after their weekly staff meeting? These are important parts of your daily rhythm and you need to maintain them.

Your office probably also has a beverage station for coffee, tea, soda, and other beverages. Think about what you drink and when and try to recreate it. I have a coffee station at home complete with water kettle, coffee and lovely coffee cups. This is one of those places where working from home means you get to enjoy a little luxury! Use your favorite mug. Take fifteen minutes to sip your coffee and look out the kitchen window. Holding a hot drink is a calming technique that can add new stress.

Eat lunch

Do you usually take a lunch break? Take one at home. Yes, like a whole hour. Your body and mind need a break from work.

And no, you can't just eat garbage. You also need to take care of nutrition now. Think again about what you usually eat for lunch at the office and try to replicate it at home. You probably can't recreate that delicious curry right now, but you can make a salad or a sandwich. YouTube is full of quick and healthy meal ideas…why not watch them on your lunch break?

Get off social media

I am not your employer. I don't care about your productivity. But now that you're working from home, you'll feel more isolated and anxious. And scrolling through an endless timeline of news updates and sad stories won't make it any easier. You get distracted from the reality of your life (you work from home, join one of the safest groups in this outbreak) and have a hard time concentrating on what's in front of you.

I do it myself... But!

So get off social media during the day. Or, if you're mindlessly scrolling, as a mental break, throw on some filters or change who you follow. I follow a lot of graphic designers and find that it brings a much needed balance to my feed, to professional content.

Improve your video setup

One of the main themes of this guide (if you haven't seen it) is that human contact is important. One of the ways to soften your feelings of isolation when working from home is to have a proper video setup.

A proper video setup is one where your face is visible, meaning it's in frame and well lit. Your face should be in the center and your angle should show your shoulders up to a few inches above your head. People need to be able to see both your eyes and your mouth. If your workspace is dark, point a desk lamp at the wall behind your monitor to blast light in your face.

I know you don't want a camera pointed at your face. Nobody likes it. But everyone appreciates seeing other people's faces, helping to pick up body language and connecting. Show your face. Some software, like Zoom, has the ability to disable your own view so you don't have to look at your face when you talk.

Create social spaces

Recreating social spaces while working from home is, in my opinion, the hardest challenge of the shift. You go from having spontaneous interactions at the snack station to having to plan idle chit-chat. I'll be honest, it doesn't recreate perfectly.

Something that I see people struggle with is scheduling time for unstructured conversations. If it's not a meeting or something with an agenda, they feel guilty about putting it on someone else's calendar. But guess what? You already had these conversations. You already used that time. The company benefited from this cross-pollination.

Think about the random conversations you have during the week and plan them. Even 15 minutes will create value. Schedule general chat time with your team, like an afternoon coffee break.

Ventilation is more important than ever

When you walk around the office, it is often in larger buildings with even larger ventilation systems - but now most of us work on fewer square meters - without ventilation.

Ventilation helps to create a good indoor climate and the good indoor climate increases your ability to concentrate. If you're not alone at home, it's even more important to vent - in fact, more than ever.

Ventilation minimizes the risk of disease transmission! So get some fresh air - and get some fresh air to learn.

Here at Öppen, we have, among other things, created an alarm for offices and work environments that tells you when it is time to ventilate. Start with it at home and take it to the office when this time is over.

Stop working

When the workday is over, it's over. You owe it to yourself and your teammates to go away for the night. Tell your team you're logging in and do some of the physical routines we've already discussed: leave your home office or clear your workspace, walk to your “commute,” and silence your notifications.

Even if you're just switching from a work screen to a personal one, that switch means something. You need to shut down your working brain so you can decompress. Now it's time to reconnect with the outside world and get a good night's sleep.

Remember: this is not normal

External longevity isn't for everyone, and you may find yourself swearing it off altogether after this time. But remember: this is not normal .

First and foremost, monitor your overall mental health and make adjustments as needed. Be kind to yourself and others.

We are in this together.

How have you arranged your home office? Comment below, send an email, or share it on Instagram and take the picture with #open.

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