31st March 2020
by Gordan Stokes

As many of us settle into the reality of working from home we will evolve and refine our routines and work out the best way to deal with the challenges of each day.  The challenges include balancing the demands/needs of home, family, work, and colleagues as well as the ever present need to remain safe.  The more careful we are and the longer we remain healthy will have a direct and positive impact on the rest of our community.   I’ve thought about what a WFH template would look like and how it would assist those of us still adjusting. 

Every day we consider consciously or unconsciously the wellbeing of:

  • Ourselves
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Work/Organisation
  • Colleagues
  • Our Immediate Community
  • Wider Community

We then also consider the latest guidelines in order to keep everyone as healthy as possible. And then we have to think about our work!  Structure to our day allows us to manage all of these immediate concerns and also make as effective as possible at work. 

Because there is so much to consider we can get a feeling of being overwhelmed.  I think of this situation as being akin to carrying mental baggage.  We can only carry so much effectively so we need to lighten the mental load.  By having a WFH plan we can not only prioritise our workday but also our thinking and what we carry around in our heads and what we can put aside for another time.  The load is lightened by acting on the mental baggage or compartmentalising it by either setting a time aside for it or, on reflection, realising we can’t do much about it and “parking” it for later. 

Below, I have laid what I think are the important points in our template/checklist.  They are in the order I would carry them out.

  1. Your day should start as every working day starts.  Once you have freshened up and had a bite to eat you should use the extra time to connect with family and friends.  You could do this over video conference, telephone, or going for a walk with your immediate family.  Walking is a great way to start your day, as you can talk and bond while getting some air in your lungs.  Also, any doggos in the household will appreciate the exercise (it will also mean they are less disruptive during the day).        
  2. As challenging as it is at the moment we should make a point of being informed of further developments and guidelines from the government.
  3. Reflect on your domestic needs.  Plan for any trips you need to take and the best time to do so. 
  4. Your workday should, if possible, start with a virtual meeting with the rest of the team.  Ideally a video conference but a teleconference is nearly as good.  Each person should contribute, and the day’s tasks agreed upon.  While business focused it should be fun as well and everyone should speak.
  5. To be clear on what you need to deliver you should consider your own priorities.  Invariably, it is best to start on the harder or more complex tasks, most of us are more mentally alert first thing in the morning, plus the sense of achievement will motivate you for the rest of the day.
  6. Plan for time to move and spend time away from your screen.  Go for a walk or have tea in the garden.  Do this every hour at least.  If you’re on a call and hands-free walk as you talk.
  7. You should try and touch base with colleagues regularly, a quick call or message is really important. 
  8. Take your meals and breaks away from the workspace and have them with the rest of the household, it will give you all a break and real rather than virtual human contact.
  9. Your day should end at an agreed time and again a virtual meeting would be a very good way to draw a line under the day.  As with the morning meeting business should be covered but also time for social interaction with everyone contributing.
  10. Kindness goes a long way; it is wonderful as it is as good for the giver as the recipient.  There is literally no downside.  Be kind to yourself, your loved ones, colleagues, and your community.  A small gesture or going the extra mile will mean so much, look for how you can brighten someone’s day. 

It is a challenging time but also a time to reflect on what we are doing and how we do it.  New ideas and ways of working will spring from this period and change many things about work.


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