Working from home – Spark’s top tips

With offices reopening again, many of us are commuting once or twice a week to reclaim our desk chairs and warm up neglected kettles. But ‘hybrid working’, the mix of office and homeworking, looks here to stay and is something we will be embracing at Spark. So, keeping on top of our at-home set ups is going to be key. From scheduling in rests throughout the day to fine-tuning our at-home setups, these are Spark’s tips for working from home (WFH).

Take breaks

This might sound obvious, but it’s one that many of us struggle with. When WFH, it’s easy to feel like breaks are skiving, and we might be tempted to overcompensate as a result – working longer hours with less downtime. But, in the office, we’d be stepping away from our screens hourly, taking trips to the printer or kettle, or having five (or twenty) minutes to chat. At Spark, we believe that there’s no reason these breaks should go away.

As Dom says, “Screen breaks are so important. You don’t notice how often you get up in the office until you’re at home and realise you’ve been staring at a laptop for hours and your eyes are like raisins.”

Keep moving

Who else basically stopped moving entirely at the start of the pandemic? Unless it was from the desk to the fridge and back again? Of course, by now, most of us have realised that this is no good, for our productivity or our health. In March, we had a Spring Spark Stepathon to get everyone moving and to contribute to a charitable cause, with the winner walking 400k steps. But small amounts of daily movement are also key.

Marnie has a ‘fake commute’ every morning to keep moving: “I walk through the park every day to get a coffee before work! Really helps clear the head before you start your day.”

Get in the zone

This has been tough for many of us, myself included. This was partially because I delayed completing my set up, at one point using an ironing board as a make-shift desk, but I also just didn’t know how to focus in my tiny flat. Michelle and Nick give their takes on how to tackle this:

“Make playlists!” says Michelle. “In the absence of office pals or a commute, make playlists for different times of the day and different activities. This really helps you switch between tasks, giving you some background noise and helping you focus.”

“I did my best to replicate my office desk at home,” Nick says. “Spark gave me a second monitor, a wireless mouse, and a proper desk chair. Can’t say enough how much this has helped me get in “work mode” away from the office.”

Stay in touch

It’s easy to drift from colleagues when we’re all WFH. But keeping in the loop with everyone is so important, for morale and productivity. At Spark, we make a point of having monthly Zoom get-togethers and brainstorms, but it’s important to have one-to-one catch ups as well – whether it’s before meetings or just a spontaneous call.

Ana believes in the power of a casual, efficient chin wag: “Take the time before calls to chit chat just as you would in the office. Make a point of catching up on stuff unrelated to work.”

Similarly, Kewal says “Brief little conversations are great. A quick two-minute chat after a client call, or a first thing catch up on what you have on that day. It really helps people keep in touch and stay motivated.”

Enjoy the perks!

Last of all, and one that we might overlook now that WFH has become the norm, is to enjoy its benefits.

As Ginny puts it: “It’s important to remind yourself that it’s okay to enjoy the perks of working from home! Enjoy the fact you can lie in a bit more, that you can save money on transport, spend more time with your family, pets, etc. It’s easy to get caught up in missing the office, but we should enjoy the comforts of home too!”

Even as offices reopen, homeworking is going to remain a big part of our lives. Making sure we stay happy and focused in our own houses needs to be a priority for all of us, whether we have a home office to ourselves or crowd into a living room with our flatmates.