How to work from home (by someone who’s never worked from home before)

Marketing executive Martha Green didn’t expect to be starting her new role at Zone perched at her dressing table and wearing noise-cancelling headphones, but needs must. Here’s what she’s learned so far…

I live with two other people in a small London flat and I’ve never worked from home before. My internet connection is a bit ropey, to say the least. Plus I’ve just started a new role at Zone. So I’ve quickly had to get to grips with the new reality we’re all facing, and I’ve learned a couple of things along the way. Here are my WFH tips — they may not be groundbreaking but they’ve certainly been helpful for me.

1. Exercise on your lunch

I’ve always been a bit wary of those who pop out for a lunchtime run. Did I say wary? I mean envious. I wish I could do that — bang out a 5k, bounce back through reception with a beaming smile, have a shower and lunch all within the hour.

WFH has forced me to come to the horrific revelation that I really do need to exercise in order to function properly. So I bought an indoor exercise bike and I now do lunchtime workouts. As a mental and physical break from being hunched over my laptop screen it works wonders. I feel completely refreshed after lunch and my productivity improves tenfold.

2. Move around during the day

As someone who lives in an overpriced London flat with no living room or garden, this is quite hard. To give my two flat-mates space, I mostly keep to my bedroom and alternate between my dressing-table-turned-desk and my bed. When I’m really struggling and need a change of scenery I go to our (even smaller) kitchen and work among the chaos. It helps break up sections of the day and refocus.

3. Screen breaks

I’ve really been missing the small things about working in an office that provide you with a little moment of joy. The walk to the kitchen, the chat while making tea, the glorious moment someone shoots a teabag into the compost bin from 10m away. The delight when a Slack message pops up to inform you it’s Letty’s birthday — which quite rightly requires four birthday cakes — and everyone stampedes to the kitchen. I even miss my commute, yes, TFL I miss you.

In the absence of these moments my brain has become a bit foggy. So I’ve started knitting. When my brain is feeling a bit clogged, I knit a row or two. Or I trot off to do some washing up. It’s a wonderful screen break/mini refresher and doesn’t take long. It’s not a cake stampede, but it’ll do.

4. Noise cancelling headphones

Really good for those moments when you decide: “OK, I’m really going to focus now.” Or put them on when you want to let your flat-mates know you don’t want to talk — we’ve been in constant communication for four weeks now, let’s have a break shall we? Spend some time making a WFH playlist to really help you focus — here’s mine…

5. Spruce up your workspace and open a window

I work next to a window, so get lots of natural light. Not only is this good for you, it’s also good lighting for video calls. I also make sure to buy flowers and work next to plants — it just helps.

Our King’s Cross office is open plan so you never feel claustrophobic. After four weeks, we’re all probably used to working in a small space, but it’s really important to get fresh air, so open your window!

6. Go outside once a day

Speaking of fresh air — go outside. I walk a lap around the park most evenings. If you can’t be bothered to do that, then just take the bin out… that’s enough.

7. Do something work normal

I recently had a Friday work drinks video call with my ‘work mums’. It was like being in the office — we drank prosecco and ate too many crisps. It was great and gave me a sense of normality.

8. Be kind to yourself

Some days just won’t go as planned. We can’t be massively productive all the time, even though we’d like to be. If you need work from your bed for the entire eight hours, do it. Following your emotions and allowing yourself to go with it will allow you to have much better days afterwards.

I don’t know who originally said this quote, but can they say it again louder for the people at the back.

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