With remote working becoming the "new normal", it has resulted in a change in routine and schedules for many, including everyone here at Collingwood. From a bright, interactive office bursting with laughter and chatter to sitting in our homes isolated from the outside world, it can be a challenging and difficult time for many. Therefore, it is important that we can channel some productivity into our new circumstances whilst ensuring we remain healthy mentally and maintain a positive work-life balance. 

I recently read an article that outlined the top five tips for remaining productive and mentally healthy whilst we work from home. Here are my 5 take aways:

1. Location

It's incredibly important to find a comfortable space to work from where you can be free from endless distractions. That means that sitting on the couch or in bed may not be the best place to be working from. It is ideal to find a place in the house where you can set up a desk or table in designated room, put your laptop down, shut the door, play some music if you work well in that environment and focus without distractions that come from being positioned somewhere with others around you. 

2. Find A Buddy

Even though we are alone and isolated at home, the world of technology allows us to still communicate with our co-workers without being in their company. Our team at Collingwood have a designated "coffee" break scheduled on Microsoft Teams where we can walk away from our work for 15 minutes and talk about non-work related topics to enjoy each others companies and have a laugh together. This is an essential factor in mental well-being and team bonding.

3. Structure Your Day

Having a structured daily schedule allows for us to focus on retaining our productivity and hitting the targets we had set for the day. This may mean having more breaks throughout the day to prevent ourselves from becoming distracted easily or focusing less. At Collingwood, we have a 30 minute meeting in the morning where everyone talks about their best part of the previous day, what they have planned and if they need help. This allows everyone to have a plan of what they want to do in the day and ensure they're aware of what needs to be done before their day begins.  

4. Communication

It's important to communicate with colleagues beyond emails, meaning that other digital tools can be used to talk about work and feel some connection with friends and co-workers. Whether it's Microsoft Teams or Zoom or simply picking up the phone and Facetiming someone, establishing communication beyond the means of email will help maintain work relationships and help with collaboration on projects.

5. Everyone Works Differently

Not everyone will enjoy working from home, a lot of people enjoy the camaraderie of an office or having structure to their day to day lives. Therefore, managers should consider that some employees may respond to structure and work differently than others. Whilst others may thrive in a remote working environment, others may feel isolated and struggle with keeping themselves motivated in their own four walls. Doug has made it a very important point to constantly monitor the well-being of the team, checking up with regular phone calls to just have a chat about how things are and making sure that himself and other members of the team can help in any way. 

With the uncertainty of how long the lock-down will last, we can assume that remote working will continue to be part of our working lives for at least a little longer, so it's definitely important to understand how to keep ourselves productive but more importantly, make sure our mental health is strong and we are supported by our team.