5 things I've learned working from home

Well hasn't this been an absolutely crazy mess? Coronavirus (COVID-19) has made working from home the new default way of working.

Written by
Joshua Holmes
Published on
May 1, 2020
Read time

Well hasn't this been an absolutely crazy mess? Coronavirus (COVID-19) has made working from home the new default way of working.

Lucky for me, and 20,000 colleagues, my workplace was already set up for remote working. This meant they could literally flick the switch, and overnight have everyone working from home (except for a few essential workers who aren't able to) across the globe.

But alas, even if it is a common occurrence for me and others to work from home, this prolonged nine weeks (and counting) of working remotely has proved challenging for several reasons.

Aside from the usual things like good Wi-Fi, ergonomics and not eating poorly, here are some things I've learned:

1. Keeping your small movements up

Don't underestimate the trip to the bathroom, kitchen or coffee shop. Especially for me, in a small inner city apartment, I found my movement through the day lacking. Going from several thousand steps per day to literally 30 is a good indication of that.

Aside from getting outside and actually exercising, you should also find the time to get up and grab glass of water, take a trip to the letterbox, or see what's happening outside from your balcony.

Not only does it improve physical health, but mental health too- something we are likely all struggling with right now.

2. Maintain social meetings

A day full of work meetings does not social interaction make. It has been shown that video conferencing actually drains us more than face to face meetings, and the lack of social interaction and movement only adds to this. Therefore, it is crucial that we get back to some social norms. Things like hosting a Friday drinks session or morning virtual coffee.

Aside from making you feel better by simply chatting to colleagues and friends without work pressure, this down time will help you to recharge and give your brain something else to work on for a little while.

3. Switching off is OK

While working remote has its benefits, it can be hard to switch off sometimes. The ease of simply jumping into emails early, or working just that bit longer because you can in the evenings can take its toll.

Overloading yourself at any one time is obviously danger zone and can make you mentally and physically unwell.

So when you feel overloaded, stressed, frustrated or tired- take a break! That work isn't going anywhere and it will only improve your output in the long term.

Archer, always a good stress reliever.

4. Find some good outlets

With much of our social outlets gone, it's important to find others. This might be a movie or TV series, cycling, walking your dog or learning a new skill.

This helps you to not only get away from work, but also improves your self esteem and maybe even job prospects.

But don't push yourself too far! One of the pitfalls I fell into was trying to fill all my time with other things to do. This led me down the path of taking on too much and expecting too much from myself in these times.

5. Make your workspace comfortable

I make this point without getting too much into the ergonomics space and the obvious things like having a good chair and desk, and also without making it so comfortable you never want to leave (see 3).

One of the best purchases I made, which has now become a daily habit, is my Ikea/Sonos Symfonisk bookshelf speaker. Due to its automation capability, literally with the flick of a switch (or other triggers), it will play my Spotify playlists, Audible books or Pocket Casts podcast. It fits perfectly under my laptop stand and provides superb sound (in my opinion).

It helps me ease into and out of my workday.

I hope these learnings help you as well. I've found it good to reflect on these unprecedented times and believe I have actually improved my overall outlook, even with a few bumps along the way.

Headshot of Josh in black and white

Joshua Holmes

Josh is a product design leader based in Melbourne, Australia.
He has been working in the design space for 7 years across various industries.