If you’re used to waking up, listening to a podcast on your daily commute and then spending eight hours in an office working, then this week may have looked a little different for you.
Meetings have gone from the boardroom to webcam and your favourite colleague is now the family dog (who sleeps on the job all day). This is called working from home, and for many Australians who are fortunate to work remotely this is the new normal.
Textile and pattern surface designer Cassie Byrnes has been working from her home office on and off for a number of years. Her longest stint was for seven years and during this time she developed a routine that helped her achieve optimum productivity for getting the job done.
“You definitely need to have structure and discipline and treat the beginning of the day the same as if you were actually leaving the house to go to an office,” she says. For Byrnes this means, sticking to a daily routine and trying her best to commit to an achievable to-do list.
“Wake up, eat breakfast and get dressed in something comfortable but nice, working in pyjamas is a 100 per cent no from me,” she says. “I always write a to-do list at the start of the day and it really helps when I’m feeling distracted because I return to the list to keep me on track.”
Byrnes notes that everyone should find a routine that works best for them and acknowledge what potential distractions might be and find ways of combating them.
“I’m a procrastinator and at home this can be amplified when you just want to cook or clean,” she says. “I’ve found what works for me is working for 50-minute blocks and taking a 10-minute break, which is really good because it scratches my itch and then I can work solidly for the next 50-minute window.”
In-between shoots, interior stylist Ruth Welsby has been working at home for 12 years, and says “setting up a designated work zone and regulating your hours is essential”.
“It’s really important to create work and life boundaries from the start, you don’t want to be working from the dinner table with your computer open when you’re making your lunch.”
For those with a spare room, Welsby offers a few tips for setting up a temporary office that looks good and is conducive to productivity.
“Try and position your desk next to a window if you can or if there’s room have your desk pulled out from the wall and sit behind it,” she says. “If you do have your desk up against the wall, put some of your favourite things on your desk and pictures on your wall that inspire you because you’ll be looking at them a lot, and add some plants and flowers to the space.”
When at work she suggests keeping the door open and when you clock off for the day, shutting the door and leaving your computer inside.
For those working from the kitchen table, Welsby suggests creating a schedule so you can manage social time with work time and not blur the two. “Some visual cues can help and make the work zone feel nice too, like putting a tablecloth down when it’s time to eat.”
Taking regular short breaks throughout the day is recommended by both Welsby and Byrnes. “Going for walks can really help break up the day, but if home’s the only option for now, make sure you get outside, there’s nothing nicer than having a coffee in the garden or on the balcony,” says Welsby.