Smart Traveller: How to work from home

23 Mar 2020 by Hannah Brandler

The Covid-19 pandemic has shaken up the world, with drastic consequences for the travel industry. This will be new territory (or rather sadly not) for many of our readers whose work spaces are not fixed but rather flit from one country (or airspace) to the next.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised Britons against all non-essential travel for an initial period of 30 days to prevent the further spread of the virus. Travel within the country, too, is limited, with train lines reducing their services and TfL’s decision to shut 40 tube stations. 

While the travelling aspect of the “business traveller” has been put on hold for the time being, the business aspect must adapt. To abide by the government’s guidelines of self-isolation, many companies have requested that employees work from home, joining the nation’s existing 1.5 million remote workers.

We’re here to offer some tips on how to be productive when working from home, all the while reassuring you that this is by no means the end of the road for travel. We will return to jet-lag, packed schedules and business class cabins soon enough, and with a far larger appreciation and respect for the industry that we’ve dedicated much of our lives to.

Here’s our top tips for working from home:

Get dressed

Lazing around in pyjamas might sound inviting but it’s not conducive to productivity. Opt for something comfortable, or continue with business attire, to get you into the right frame of mind for the day ahead. This also means that you will look (and feel) professional should you need to dial in to a video conference call. 

Eat well

Start the day with an energising protein-filled breakfast and make sure to have regular tea, coffee and snack breaks. Take a proper lunch hour and join a family member, flatmate or video call a friend to get your mind off work. This will help to reset you for the afternoon.

Maintain a routine

If possible, stick with the same hours as a normal working day so that you can clock on and off. While you will no longer be commuting to/from work, act as though you still need to. Before work, set off for a 15 minute walk. Do the same in your lunch hour, and after work.

Jot down a to-do list before you begin work and tick off the tasks once completed. This will help to maintain structure and show you what you have accomplished by the end of the day.

Set up a workstation

If you can, separate your bedroom and work environment as this will help you to switch off in the evening and get a better night’s sleep. Tidy away any clutter and set up your workstation to make it as comfortable and inviting as possible.

Make sure you have a socket close by – you will inevitably need to charge your device at some point during the day – and that you are near a strong wi-fi connection.

Broadband services are experiencing strong demand but internet service providers have ensured that they have contingency plans in place to cope with greater traffic. The EU has also asked streaming services such as Netflix and YouTube to reduce videos to standard resolution to avoid a slowdown in speed. 

If using a laptop, try fashioning a stand from coffee table books so that your eyebrows are level with the top of the screen. This will prevent you from slouching and enduring back pain. You could also invest in a sit/stand desk and an adjustable office chair. 

Don’t forget to back up your work on an external hard drive or in the cloud – it really isn’t the time for another disaster! 

Stay social

Self-isolating doesn’t mean that we should restrict ourselves from all human interaction, quite the opposite. It’s all the more important to keep in touch with colleagues, friends and family during times of crisis.

Buffer’s State of Remote Work Report 2020 revealed that 20 per cent of remote workers find that collaboration, communication and loneliness are the biggest challenges of working from home.

To resolve this, use social media platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Slack and Zoom. Chat to your colleagues regularly on messenger or video calls to keep in the loop and bounce ideas off one another.

Videoconferencing has seen a huge rise in demand already, with Italy seeing a three-fold increase according to the Financial Times. Just make sure that your phone is on mute when other people are talking, especially if there’s a lot of background noise at home.

Give yourself a break

Make sure that you take five minute breaks throughout the day to give your mind and eyes a break after constantly staring at the screen.

Finally, don’t fret if it doesn’t all go to plan to begin with. We’re all adjusting to this new way of working and it will take a few days to work out which practices work best for you.

We’ll end it here with this viral BBC clip from 2017 which shows the humorous struggles of working from home.

Stay positive and let us know your working from home tips in the comments below.

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The cover of the Business Traveller May 2024 edition
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