Working from home: 25 tips from the Springboard team

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that for many people, they are working from home for a lengthy period for the very first time.   This can be a challenging situation, but it is one that Springboard Trust can assist with. Since we began offering programmes and workshops around the country, we have had team members in each of these regions to provide on-the-ground support.   We thought it would be a good idea to canvas them for their top tips on working remotely – here's what we came up with!1. Walk to punctuate your day  Before you start work and when you finish work, taking a quick 5-10 minute walk is a great way to punctuate the day, putting a nice ‘event’ between your working time and your relaxing time.   2. Make the environment feel like an office  Wherever you choose to work, try and make it feel like a working environment. Having a dedicated work desk, some storage for your paperwork, and a phone if you need it – try and make your working spot distinctly work-flavoured to keep those boundaries.   3. Get dressed for work (at least on the top half)  Pyjamas are comfy, but they won’t put you in a work mindset easily! While it’s important to dress work-appropriate for video calls, most of the time you’ll only need to take care of your top half. Warm slippers, comfortable socks and – should the occasion call for it – some polar fleece trackpants can all be perfect additions to a remote working wardrobe.  4. Use the environment to improve your Te Reo   A few of our team members are scrubbing up on their Te Reo, using resources from Te Wiki o te Reo Māori (like the essential Kōrero Kawhe sheet) to do so! A great way to improve your language skills, especially in your downtime.  5. Do your chores early  Once dressed, do the tasks around the house that need to be done – otherwise they become the perfect excuse to stop working later on!   6. Be predictable! Make a point of starting and stopping at the same time each day, with the same breaks in between. Personally, I like to work in 90-minute blocks, which let me get through a lot without feeling like I’m stuck in my chair.   I like to announce to my partner that I’m going to work – even if I’m just going to the next room to open my laptop!   7. Do a lunchtime activity  Exercise, walks, reading, watching an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race – do something that isn’t work for your lunch break. You’re in the comfort of your own home, and working there shouldn’t diminish your enjoyment of that!  8. Make some interruption rules If you have children or family at home, be very clear and specific about your working time and the rules for interrupting – that stickman drawing might be a work of art, but it has to wait until you can pay proper attention to it!   This lets you dedicate real, proper quality time to both your work and your family.   9. The house doesn’t have to be perfect  While chores at the start of the day are a good idea, the house doesn’t have to be perfect before you start. With everyone living at home, there’s always going to be something that needs doing – but focus on having your workspace be comfortable rather than the house be spotless.  10. Make your start and end times clear to others Know when you start and when you finish. Your work-life boundaries are going to blur during this time, so give yourself a fighting chance of keeping them clear with a good timetable.   11. Change your space  You know better than anyone where you like to relax while you’re at home – so make your working space somewhere else. You don’t want to have the places where you relax, watch TV or sleep become spaces where you’re in a work mindset.   12. Do the same thing every morning  Shower, breakfast, brush your teeth, open laptop. Exercise, breakfast, check emails, read the news, do the laundry, start work at 9:30am. Whatever your comfortable routine in the morning, stick to it – do the same thing every morning. It’ll help keep a sense of healthy routine in your life.   13. Work in bursts  Some work best in 90 minute spurts as above, while others prefer the Pomodoro method, and others like to do a big morning session then a big afternoon session. Find the amount of time you can comfortably stay working for, and build your schedule around that.  15. Check off achievements  Be as pedantic as you want with listing tasks – the more you put in your list, the more you get to check off throughout the day!   16. Pack a lunch   I’ve already taken a two-hour lunch break to do some baking – preparing a lunch in the morning can help you keep the momentum on days you need it.  17. Allow yourself a bad day  This is going to be a difficult time, and for many people working from home is just not the ideal. Don’t be hard on yourself if it’s difficult to get work done.   18. Change the energy   Play with your dog! Make a cup of tea! Change the rhythm and energy of your day to keep things interesting.   19. Stand up, and standup  Standing up is an excellent way to energise a working environment – as are daily standups. The daily standup is a quick five minute meeting with your team to catch up on what you’re doing today, what you did yesterday and what your roadblocks are – it's great to get more face time too!   20. Vary your hours  Your work day does not have to be one continuous block of time. Take breaks when you need them, and be kind to yourself.21. Check people’s calendars  We might be working remotely, but people’s schedules will still be busy. Make sure to keep on top of your colleague’s calendars so you know when they’re free for a meeting – or for a social catch-up!   22. Make the most of phone calls  Video calls tend to have you sitting in one spot – but phone calls give you the freedom to get up and walk around. Schedule these in for your afternoon so you can be active, maintain connection and keep on top of your work!   23. Don’t eat at your desk!   Or you’ll soon be wondering just where all those snacks went!   24. Check your coffee intake  Chain coffee drinking is a deadly trap for remote workers. Line up your coffee drinking with your timetable, or get someone in the home to hide the black gold from you lest you drink it all in the first week of lockdown!   25. Be intentional with your social time  Without the natural interruptions and conversations that happen in an office, you have to be deliberate about making time to catch up with people in a casual, social manner. Be mindful of schedules, but be intentional about talking to people about their day!  

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