Prior to re-joining Pembroke and Rye in September, I had my first taste of home working, completing two dissertations as part of my degree from the University of Sussex. My researching, writing and editing, undertaken in the familial home, as I frequently switched between my bedroom and the kitchen, provided a supportive backdrop for me to tackle the intricacies of textual analysis and media bias.
Yet, before ‘virtually’ returning to the PR consultancy, I was apprehensive about how I would need to adapt to the team-based approach of working in a consultancy environment. I pondered how I would be able to fit in with the collaborative, team orientated work ethic that underpinned the firm, and how I would be able to join in the vibrant conversations from afar. I already missed the views from the office across the leafy squares of Pimlico.
I knew that I would need to transform the breakfast table that supported my academic studies into a ‘virtual desk’ that would support my return to agency life. I would need to carefully balance my work energies against my mental wellbeing.
Six weeks in, and with a few wrong turns along the way, I can now suggest a few tips for anyone starting their career working from home.
1) Finding where you work best at home
I find I am the most productive when I have a lot of space, to be as constructive (and often as messy) as possible. I work at my kitchen table, where there is a lot of natural light, with easy access to the kettle and radio. This is where I feel the most comfortable and able to think creatively when working.
2) Maintaining a Routine
It is important that whilst I am working in my own home, I maintain a similar routine to that of my normal working day. This makes me feel awake, and ready to start the day. Everyone is different, but what helps me in the mornings is wearing work clothes (wearing joggers makes me feel like it is a weekend) walking the dog and completing my skincare routine.
3) Make time for friends, family and your work colleagues
Something that really helped me throughout COVID is talking about it! Your mental and physical health are equally as important, so discussing aspects of life you are struggling or uncomfortable with can help relieve the load. It is also vital you check in on others. You will be surprised how many of your work colleagues, friends and family are all experiencing the same feelings of anxiety, stress and negativity as you are.Look out for each other!
4) Having a break
If there is a piece of work you find particularly difficult, take a step back and have a break. Have a cup of tea and a biscuit away from your laptop - outside if it is a nice day. Fresh air or a fresh scenery really helps me to clear my head. Whether this is just moving to a different room or reading a chapter of a book, immersing yourself in something completely different for as little as five minutes can really help refresh your mind.
5) Mixing up your daily or weekly schedule
The monotony of COVID is one I struggled with a lot, particularly in the peak of lockdown. Although sometimes a routine can help sustain a sense of normality, there is no harm in mixing your daily schedule. This can be anything as small as treating yourself to a nice lunch, to driving to a National Trust garden, to going for a run - anything that helps give you space from your home is key in maintaining a healthy mindset, and will benefit the quality of your work.
Written by: Alisha Pyzer