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COVID-19: Working At Home During Lockdown

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Julie Cook, Acacia founder shares her learned experience of working from home, which could not be more relevant during the Coronavirus lockdown.

Like so many other businesses, Acacia Learning took the decision on 16th March to temporarily close its office and for all the team to be fully working from home by 23rd March. On the afternoon of 20th March, the team took their equipment home and set up their workstations sharing photos of these with their colleagues so they could visualise them.

I have many years of remote working and have experienced its highs and lows. It’s important to have a defined space which looks and feels like work to help you keep focused and importantly also be able to walk away from at the appropriate time. The latter is important to maintain a work-life balance which is important for our physical and more importantly mental health.

Working from home can of course be the cause of mental health issues including anxiety, stress and depression. It comes from the lack of interaction with colleagues and the wider world as such. Therefore, it is important to keep in touch with your colleagues and friends, not only via email but by speaking on phone calls and via video face time.  It is also important to make sure you schedule “me” time. This can include getting outside and going for a walk, having a bath or even reading a book. And if it all still feels like it’s getting too much, talk to your manager and arrange to re-schedule your day as suitable for both of you.

Distractions exist at work and home, but they do differ. With the closure of schools for non-key workers the potential level of home distraction has been ramped up dramatically. It is however important for children to be aware of discipline of work from that ultimate role model their parent.

In an office environment it is easy to ask a question of a colleague (a distraction for them) rather than figure it out for yourself. WFH there is a better chance of independent thinking and thus improving resilience. 

By agreement with your manager working hours can be more flexible. It’s easier to take breaks and so importantly come back to work refreshed and energised.

Communication with your colleagues is still of vital importance. In one day yesterday I participated in meetings via Google Hangouts, Zoom and Houseparty! Seeing and hearing your colleagues rather than over reliance on emails enables sound problem solving and minimises risk of miscommunication. 

A lot of people will be relieved to be spared their daily commute, freeing up more time, saving fares/fuel costs not to mention risk of infection for those using public transport (and not just from Covid-19!)

Acacia Learning has a relaxed dress code but working from home takes this to the next level. Two of three video calls yesterday were made in slippers – what’s not to like.

It will be interesting to see after the crisis is over how many employees will want to stay working at home. Equally of interest is how employers have found this a viable way to run their business.

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