By Poppy Reilly-Stitt

Starting a new job during a pandemic, and in some cases a national lockdown, can be strange. There is the excitement of a new job and the bizarre reality of doing this from a makeshift office erected in your bedroom, kitchen or living room. Although there are some benefits of being able to, quite literally, roll from your bed to your ‘office’, altogether avoiding the dreaded commute that looms over many, these benefits still don’t quite live up to the expectations of starting a new job.

However, as we have all proved over the last year, we are pretty adaptable. While many are craving a return to the office, some have taken to this work-from-home phenomenon like a fish to water. I would say I’m somewhere in between, unsure how I’ll ever have the time to make my lunch when the days of commuting resume but also intrigued at what my office environment will look like when it’s no longer 2D.

Here are some of my top tips for working from home:

  1. A morning routine

This may sound self-explanatory but having a good morning routine is key to starting the day right. Allowing yourself to have some downtime when you wake up is a great way to prepare for anything the day might throw your way. This might include: a morning walk, an online fitness class (Joe Wicks if you are so inclined), making a nutritious breakfast or even giving yourself time to listen to a podcast or your favourite radio station. Create a routine that works for you.

Also, I love loungewear as much as the next person but getting dressed has the potential to make you look and feel professional. This will also help you to create a greater distinction between work and leisure time.

 

  1. Your work-space

If you’re working from your bedroom, then continue this theme of trying to distinguish between work and home by keeping your work-space tidy (this includes making your bed) and as distraction-free as possible. You could also re-arrange your room to move your work-space closer to a window; allowing you to harness natural light.

On the technical side, you could invest in a laptop stand to bring your laptop up to eye level. Similarly, having a chair that supports your back and allows you to sit upright can make long days sitting at your desk more manageable.

 

  1. The power of movement

Not only is it vital to take screen breaks for your eyes but it is just as important to physically get up from your desk. This could be going to make yourself a cup of tea or getting up to stretch, walk or dance.

During the winter, it is difficult to spend time outside in daylight as part of your working week. If your company are happy to provide some flexibility with your working hours, then you could take some time during the day to go for a walk, run or cycle. This is one huge benefit of working from home.

 

  1. Staying social on screen

One of the most nerve-wracking and exciting parts of a new job is all the new people. Although the potential for forgetting a colleague’s name seems like a distant memory, with everyone having named icons, we all know that interaction isn’t as seamless online as it would be face-to-face. Most people can admit to having endured an awkward breakout room, or two, and interrupting a colleague through lags in internet connection. However, amidst these technical issues it’s really important to try and engage verbally with your new colleagues.

Daily Team Meetings have been a great source of social interaction, and at Tutor Trust there is a continuous focus on wellbeing. Each Monday morning the whole team shares the best bits from their weekend, which is a lovely way to start the week.  

You could try scheduling one-to-ones with members of the team as you begin to feel more settled. This will give you the opportunity to meet people properly and provide you with a greater sense of the team on an individual level. They might even be able to help with a work-related task that’s been niggling away at you, or if nothing else, use the opportunity to grab a cup of tea and your favourite biscuit and discuss the newest Netflix original.

 

  1. Wellbeing

My final tip is to be honest about your workload and don’t be afraid to say no or ask for help. Often when you start a new job you feel pressure to say yes to everything. This might be because you feel the need to prove yourself. However, if you take on too much, you might find that your work starts to extend into all hours of the day, and this is facilitated by working from home. This may lead to burn-out and feelings of resentment as you become trapped in your office/living space.

A conversation with your line manager about your workload might seem daunting but they should provide support and advice on how to cope with this. They may even be able to find ways of distributing tasks more evenly.

Finally, make sure you shut your laptop at the end of the day, giving yourself clearly defined working hours. You could even tidy away your work-related items so that you physically, and by extension mentally, finish work for the day.

 

This is by no means a definitive list, everyone works differently. You might even have tips and tricks that you think we should add to our list. If so, then comment below. We’d love to hear your suggestions.