As we continue to intently listen to advice from the government on tackling COVID-19, many businesses are asking staff to work from home to prevent the spread of the virus.

For many, this is a different experience than they’re used to, so to make the transition easier – we asked for tips from some of our staff here at Smart Apprentices who are used to working from home.

Stick to a routine

You’re used to getting up and getting ready for work at a certain time, so continue this even though you’re gaining time by not travelling to the office. Use your extra time to make sure you eat a good breakfast or get out the house – even if it’s just to walk around the block for some fresh air.

Keeping as closely as you can to your ‘normal’ routine will allow you to remain in the work mindset, even when in your home environment.

Get up and dressed

It can be easy to fall into a habit of staying in bed and working in your pyjamas, but this isn’t good for your mental health or your productivity. Get out of bed and get dressed, try to allocate certain clothes to create a ‘work uniform’ or if you normally wear a uniform, put this on even when you’re at home.

Plus, remember a lot of meetings are probably going to be held online – so make sure you’re dressed for being on camera!

Set up a workstation

Try to set up a work area that mimics your normal office space, if you don’t have an office with a desk available, try working at a dining table or designated space in your house. Sitting in a proper chair as opposed to your bed is also important for your posture. With a designated area, you know when you’re sat there, it’s time to work not relax.

Try to make sure the area has some natural light and is away from distractions, such as a TV or your housemate/partner relaxing.

Our Senior Client Relations Manager, Janet said: ‘I always dress for work and get up early to be prepared for the morning call.  If you start to look casual, then your mind feels it is not in work mode. I have a desk to work from and I’m able to go into a different room in the house to work. This helps me divide work from home. Sitting on the sofa would not work for me.’

Communication is key

It’s easy to feel lonely when working from home – some of you may live alone and not even see anyone from day to day. To manage this as a workforce, chat to your team – even better video call them and have a catch up.

With technology at the heart of many businesses, it’s easier than ever to drop a quick message to a staff member or leave them some feedback, you never know how much saying ‘hello’ might make a difference to someone’s day or mental health.

We use our Smart Rooms to video conference call every staff member everyday at lunch, it keeps spirits up and allows us to maintain our family feel as a business. Each day we collectively choose a topic to share tips and news about the next day as well as informing everyone on the ongoing COVID-19 situation.

Our Business Development Director Danny said: ‘For me as a manager of a team, I am holding both start of day calls and end of day calls just to set the expectations for the day and then review the day, I think that with remote workers it provides a sense of belonging and togetherness but also drives that accountability that is required when having staff members working from home.‘

Take breaks

In the office you’ll be aware of people taking breaks or going on lunch – even if you’re not watching the time, forcing you to acknowledge you’re probably due a break too.

Without others to distract you, it’s easy to get carried away working and work through ‘normal’ break times. To combat this, set timers to remind you to grab some lunch and get up and stretch or walk around. Setting alarms on your phone or reminders in your work calendar can make all the difference.

Try not to spend the time sat behind your computer and if you can use the time to get some fresh air – even if it’s just for 10 minutes.

Our Client Relations and Software Trainer, Graham said: ‘I would recommend setting timers to take short breaks from the computer. It’s easy to get drawn into the screen and you don’t leave until 5pm. Set a timer to make a cuppa throughout the day or lunch. That way you don’t forget. This will help you stay focused and help your body physically.’

Limit distractions

It’s amazing how appealing tidying up or scrolling through social media can be when you’re alone and procrastinating but don’t fall into the trap.

Try listening to some classical music or put on the radio low in the background and move your phone away from you. It’s easy to think I’ll just reply to a quick text, but with each distraction it takes at least 10 minutes to get back into work mode – think about how much time you could be wasting.

Look after yourself

In times like this, maintaining good health really is the most important element of your day to day life. Keeping your energy levels up by eating well and drinking plenty of water and staying away from sugary, beige foods.

Aim to fit in some exercise time and stretching into your daily routine, even if it’s by watching a short YouTube video and copying the moves.

Remember, we’re all going through this together, it’s time to be supportive.

For more tips, why not watch this video?

If you’re interested in Smart Rooms and how our virtual conference rooms can help your business, contact our sales team on 0845 460 4440.

Or book onto one of our Smart Teaching, Learning and Assessing webinars here.