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How to not go crazy while working from quarantine

·4-min read
Would you like to work from home? Image: Getty
Would you like to work from home? Image: Getty

An extra hour’s sleep in, the ability to wear pyjamas all day and get the odd load of washing done - the benefits of spending the odd day working from home are pretty good.

But as the coronavirus takes hold of more of the globe, increasing numbers of Australians may be forced to quarantine themselves indoors for two weeks.

Indeed in February forced its entire Sydney office to stay at home for two days, with media agencies Foxtel Media and OMD also instating temporary work-from-home plans to deal with coronavirus scares. And Twitter has its entire 5,000-strong global workforce working from home until further notice amid the outbreak.

And while working from home for a day can be relaxing, long-term periods outside the office can be the opposite.

According to the European Working Conditions Survey from 2015, around 42 per cent of workers who work from home have trouble sleeping, compared to 29 per cent of those who work in an office.

Additionally, 41 per cent of remote workers are stressed “always or most of the time”, while only 25 per cent of those who work in an office feel the same way.

This is due to home and the office effectively being the same space: our ability to switch off is curtailed.

Then there’s communication frustration, and the distractions that come with being at home.

Lessons from a full-time remote worker

Anthony's working from home office. Image: Supplied
Anthony's working from home office. Image: Supplied

Big four bank worker Anthony Tang works from home full-time. He told Yahoo Finance his top tips for Australians forced to work from home.

Tang went remote after his team changed office locations and he was offered the opportunity to work from home.

“It was definitely different at first - not having the hustle and bustle of your normal office environment, having to be even more responsible for your own time management and work,” he said.

“[The] best part would definitely be all the time saved, being able to get a bit more sleep and being in the comfort of your own home. However being in the comfort of your own home was definitely the biggest challenge, trying not to get too distracted by everything and not having colleagues to keep you accountable.”

He said communication is key when it comes to working remotely, with his team dialling into a daily Skype conversation to keep everyone connected.

Additionally, it’s critical to keep your work space separate from your personal home life.

“Having a physical space for work that is separate from your bedroom or personal living space really helps with this distinction mentally,” he explained.

And while you’re working, it’s important to remember to just get up and move around every so often.

“At home you probably won’t be walking as much as the kitchen will be closer than the coffee shop you go to when you’re in the office,” he said.

“Keep that in mind and just for a five-10min walk; take your breaks.”

Importantly, a solid internet connection will also “make life a lot less frustrating”.

Atlassian’s advice

Smiling woman at home with headset using laptop
Atlassian tells staff to have plants by their monitors. Image: Getty

Atlassian in 2019 announced a huge plan to encourage remote work after an internal survey found 95 per cent of employees would be keen to work remotely.

Speaking to Yahoo Finance at the time, global head of talent Bek Chee said remote work just doesn’t work if any worker doesn’t feel part of the team.

She said Atassian has a series of “plays” which are aimed at addressing loneliness. One of those is simply a Slack room where remote employees can connect and chat.

Another one is to set up a notification that says, “Hey, time to reach out to this person”, just to say “Hi”.

And, Atlassian employees working from home will also receive a design kit.

“That says, ‘Hey you should probably have fresh plants in your room. Here's some advice on how you set up your home office,’” Chee said.

“We would - as part of our design kit - encourage people to have live plants kind of on either side of their monitor, right at home, while they're looking at their screen.”

She said they also have a requirement that remote workers have a “dedicated space so that you can close the door and it can feel like a separate space.”

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