The AnOther Guide to Working from Home

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Kettle’s Yard
Kettle’s YardPhotography by Tereza Cervenova

In the age of coronavirus, where working from home has become the new norm, Ana Kinsella compiles some helpful tips to see you through the day

All of a sudden, an unprecedented amount of us are now working from home. There are arguments to be made both for and against this practice – it’s nice to sit on the sofa all day, sure, but after eight hours you can start to feel like a slug. I should know – as a longtime freelance writer, I’ve been working from home in some capacity for years. And while we all hope that these current measures are short term, in the meantime, I have compiled a list of helpful tips to see you through the day.

In the morning

Get up when you’d usually get up for work

Let’s say your commute usually takes an hour. You could use this new hour to sleep, sure. Or you could use it to do something even better, like exercise, or make a cup of tea and drink it in bed. The key is not to just roll out of bed and onto your laptop – everyone needs a transitional phase to prepare them for the next stage of the day.

Get dressed

This one is flexible, based on what works for you. What does ‘getting dressed’ look like? For me, it’s anything that isn’t pyjamas or sweatpants. Sometimes that means leggings, sometimes that means Lemaire (for Uniqlo). What you’re looking for is an outfit that helps you feel like a new day has started. If in doubt, take inspiration from @wfhfits. When all else fails, brushing your hair helps.

Light a scented candle

I don’t know what practical benefit this has, but everyone seems to do this when they post their WFH desks on Instagram, so it must work in some way.

Call your work wife

She needs you now more than ever! If you’re used to office chat, the shift to a quiet lonely room can be tough. Mitigate this however you can – schedule video calls for coffee breaks, exchange voice notes, call your mother. Get off Slack if you can and don’t feel silly about asking for more ‘face to face’ time with your colleagues or manager if you need it.


Rediscover lunch

So many meals are eaten on the go, or hunched in front of a computer screen at your desk. Access to a kitchen means the potential to actually enjoy lunch on the level of pleasure and not just function. This doesn’t have to mean cooking a gourmet spread – baked beans on toast with a little grated cheese often hits the spot for me. But try not to work while you eat and if you have the time and energy, consider making something a little fancy for yourself once in a while. These are your work perks now.

Don’t forget about movement

Leaving the house to go to an office every day involves basic exercise – walking up and down stairs, carrying a backpack, and so on. Staying indoors means finding new ways to help maintain basic fitness. If you’re able to, do something that gets your heartrate up at least once per day. A jog, a cycle, a quick HIIT workout while you’re waiting for your pasta water to boil – it all counts. Tins of beans make good basic dumbbells, by the way.

The long afternoon

Take breaks

Reading the Guardian’s coronavirus liveblog doesn’t count. If you can, go outside. Look at a tree. Sit on a bench while maintaining a healthy and respectful distance from other people. Brains need this more than they need rolling news.

Crack open a window

Trust me on this one. You can’t smell a bad room when you’re in it.

Clocking off

Turn everything off

When you finish up for the day, turn off notifications for email and chat messages. (Also, remember to blow out that candle.) One of the toughest things about working from home is preventing ‘work’ from contaminating all that is pleasant about ‘home’. Think about what you need to feel able to switch off. A quick walk as a ‘faux commute’? A phone call with a friend? A beer while you cook dinner? Try to remember that your time is still your own, even with everything else that has changed. 

Be kind to yourself

You’ll have days at home where you just can’t focus. Remember, you have those days in an office, too. Don’t worry too much about it. If today is bad, you can always try again tomorrow.