Coronavirus: When The Office Moves Into Your Home

A light oak desk with a laptop in a lounge with pink walls and a white couch and coffee table

Are you struggling to make it work? Here are twelve tips that helped us manage.

On Tuesday, Matt’s manager delivered a computer to our home. It wasn’t just a computer, but a monitor, a keyboard and a headset, too. For whatever reason, I imagined that Matt would be working from a computer, but using his laptop as a monitor. When that wasn’t the case, we had to find space for a whole new set-up – and fast!

Now that Matt’s been given my desk (and I’m blogging from my coffee table, boohoo!), one of the most significant areas we’ve been struggling with is housework. Instead of two laptops that get put away each night, we now have a whole computer station to take care of, which also takes up space in our bedroom.

Unfortunately right now, a lot of people are working from home and are in it for the long haul. Lockdowns could go on for months, we have been warned, and working from home, for many, has become the new way of life. When that happens, you need ways to manage your physical and mental health.

Have no fear!

By combining my knowledge from blogging, being a housewife and a few bits and pieces I learned during our last big pandemic, I want to talk you through some tips and tricks to help you feel more on top of it all. Whether clutter is making you feel more frazzled or you worry about picking up those nasties, I hope these tips and tricks will help.

1. Wipe Down Often

First and foremost, please, please wipe your desk and your keyboard often. Obviously, you can use a surface cleaner for your desk, but use an antibacterial wipe for your keyboard. You don’t need to go crazy, before you clock off for lunch and after you’ve shut down at the end of the day will be plenty. Look for a quality surface cleaner that kills the big, harmful nasties like E.Coli and MRSA. If it can attack the major bugs, it will probably do well with Coronavirus, too. Natural cleaning may work fine, but personally, I’m not taking any chances.

2. Wash & Moisturize Your Hands (Reasonably) Often

If you visit the bathroom, before and after you eat lunch or make coffee and if you go outside for any reason. Use comfortably hot water and some soap, and make sure you wash for at least 20 seconds. Pat them dry and apply a dot of moisturiser. All of this additional hand-washing will dry out your paws, so make sure you treat them to a nourishing hand cream. Some people do get too worked up and handwash almost religiously. If your hands are red or feel sore and itchy, dial back just a little bit. Taking precautions is one thing, but we can easily go into excess. Unfortunately, cracked skin is just another way for the virus to get in, so go careful.

3. Don’t Be Tempted To Work During Lunch

No! Just no. That’s your time to break, not your time to work. If you can’t wait to rush outside during your lunch break in the office, don’t be tempted to keep working through your lunch at home. Take a break and perhaps rest your eyes, too. If you’d normally sit outside, make sure you do. If you’re home alone, now is always a good time to have that 10-minute lunchtime snooze you’ve always wanted, too 😉

4. Try To Separate Working From Home, From Home

Matt’s computer is in the bedroom, my new workspace is our coffee table, and all of my notepads, pens and planners are in a woven paper basket on the shelf. Once Matt’s day is finished, the desk lamp gets turned off, and the bed lights get switched on, creating a relaxing bedroom atmosphere away from the work environment. Similarly, after lunch, I turn the TV off so that I can focus on the blog. When we finish our day, I put my laptop away inside our lift-top coffee table and put my paperwork away. At that point, it becomes a lounge and my work for that day is done. If work is left lying around, you’ll be more tempted to work when you should be relaxing!

5. Try And Dress For Work

It can be tempting to wear something comfortable when we work from home. When we’re comfortable, we can be tempted to relax. When we relax, we get less work done. By making an effort to dress for work (even if you can’t go to the office!), you’ll be more in the mindset for work and more inclined to get more done. Conversely, your loungewear will feel more relaxing, too!

6. Don’t Eat At Your Desk!

It may be tempting to eat your lunch while you work, but if you’re borrowing company property, that is unlikely to end well. Spills and crumbs can ruin keyboards, and the costs can wind up coming out of your salary. Better safe than sorry and just stick to tea, coffee or water like your normally would 😉

7. Don’t Forget Your Routine

When you work from home, it can be oh so tempting to stay in bed and get up only minutes before you need to sign on. I would know, we nearly got caught out with that one!

If you have a routine when you go to the office, try and make sure you stick to it. Get up when you usually would and prepare yourself mentally for work. If you’d typically travel to the office, go for a walk instead. If you typically check the news, do that, too. The more normal you keep things, the more productive you will be with this new arrangement.

In the same regard, don’t forget your housework. Unfortunately, the new office in the home is one more thing to clean; it is not a reason to let it all fall apart. Some companies like to video conference during office hours, so make sure your home is presentable! Not only, but the tidier your home is, the easier it will be to keep clean.

If You Have A Partner…

With both of us working from home, things are very different from usual. With that in mind, here are 4 tips and tricks from our experience which I hope will help you.

8. Remember That Your Partner is NOT Your Colleague  

That annoying customer that you all joke about in the office? Your partner won’t know them. That escalation code you need to know? They won’t know that either. If you want your partner to understand the frustration you’re feeling, make sure you explain the backstory. If you don’t want a blank stare and a slow nod, a bit of context can go a long way.

9. But If You Usually Chat, Still Chat To Them

One of the really lovely things about having Matt home is that I haven’t been nearly so lonely. Even though we do entirely different things, we still talk about what we’re doing and, just sometimes, we can help each other. Matt has explained frustrations with various procedures, interesting faults and vented about rude customers to me. Similarly, when I’ve had computer issues, I’ve been able to talk to him. We’ve had the radio on quietly in the background and, on the whole, it has actually been quite pleasant!

10. Be Sure To Divide The Chores

Without the commute to the office, you do have more time on your hands. It can be tempting to see that as more time to relax, but make sure you allocate some of that time for chores, too. Remember, the cleaner you keep your home, the fewer places those nasties have to hide in 😉

11. Remember To Make Time For Your Relationship, Too

Above all else, remember that they are still your partner, not your colleague. Even if you can’t go out for dinner right now, order dinner in and make time for your relationship. Power down computers, dim the lights and light candles instead. Laugh together, relax together, and make plenty of time for your relationship. You have a lot of time together right now, it makes sense to have fun.

And If You Have A Dog…

12. Invest, Invest, Invest!

If you have a tiny terrier like we do who would bark if he heard a squirrel fart within a 30-mile radius, you’ll need to buy a new toy or two. Hugo now has “Goose”, a tough denim goose that can’t be torn up so easily. Kongs are also your friend, and so are any other food puzzle toys.

Buy a safety gate and allocate your dog a room away from your home office. They don’t get your time and attention while you’re away at work, so it’s important that they don’t get too much chance to distract you now you’re at home. By keeping their routine, not only will you manage to keep up productivity, but you’re also less likely to encourage separation anxiety when you can safely return to the office.

Shut Down At The End Of The Day

If you’re tempted to put your computer on standby at the end of the day, make sure you don’t. One of the pitfalls of working from home is that the electricity bill is on you. When Matt told me he’d just put his computer on standby as he was working on the weekend, I quickly sent him to shut it down. Weekend or not, 9 hours overnight with a computer and a monitor on standby would not be too cheap on the electricity bill!

These are trying times for everyone, and nobody expects you to be perfect. With a few simple steps and measures though, these next few weeks can go a lot smoother for everyone. If you’re stuck on making it work, I hope these tips can help you!

Until next time.

Stay safe & have fun.

Helen xx

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