CIE Blog - Working from Home

Posted on: 20 March 2020 by Rebecca Atkinson in General

Laptop Phone Coffee
Laptop, Phone and Coffee

With the University moving to remote teaching and remote working, these have become uncertain times for colleagues. My friends in other departments across the University have expressed their apprehension of working remotely and are concerned about how to stay active and connected. So here in CIE I have asked my colleagues what works for them and we have put together some recommendations or tried and tested tips and tricks for a positive remote working experience, and have listed some apps which have helped us maintain a positive outlook.

Personally, I don’t have much experience working from home, so this is pretty new to me and I have certainly found it difficult in the beginning, which is one of the reasons I have asked my colleagues for advice. I have had to force myself to leave my laptop at times because for me, there are fewer distractions at home compared to in the office. A while ago myself and one of my colleagues Robin, put together a document on encouraging better digital wellbeing for staff and I have had to put some of that into practice recently. I have started to use an extension on Chrome to remind me to take breaks (Break Time on the Chrome app store, as below) which so far is working very well, even if I’m just opening the front door for 2 minutes of fresh air. Here are some more apps that can help decompress at the end of the work day:

MoodSpace – This app helps you record thoughts and feelings through the day and has short meditation sessions.

Catch It – Developed in part by the University of Liverpool, this app is a thought diary for long term use.

Break Timer – Chrome extension for break. The Mac equivalent is Time Out.

Pokémon Go – One of the most, if not the most popular mobile game, encourages users to leave the house, even just for a few minutes, so you can catch them all!

Ceri - Don’t pressure yourself to be present online at all times! Overall, this won’t help get stuff done, it is more important to take regular, short breaks, and a lunch break part way through the day. Try having a social chat on Teams to avoid feeling isolated, whether it’s with your whole team or individuals also on Teams. It’s important for our mental health not to feel isolated so going outside each day for a walk (but maintaining social distancing) will help break up the day, or even doing some gardening at lunch time. Light and air are vital! My personal thing is to walk the dog on a break.

Rachelle – The thing I always try to do is stick to a routine. So I get ready for work, make sure I take breaks through the day and when I’m finished, I get ready to transition into home life. The importance of separating home time and work time was something I learned early on (as a previous remote worker). One way I do this is to light a candle when I reach the end of the day. I figured you can’t have candles in work so this is a good signifier that it was home time, but it works with many other things as well. If I’m looking to take myself away from things for a little while I will go and do some Dungeon Runs in World of Warcraft, gardening, walk my dog, build LEGO or watch Netflix.

Monica – Going for a walk in the park or doing some yoga at home. I have found a lovely online teacher who uploads free 15 minute sessions on YouTube who has a calming and soothing voice: Boho Beautiful website.

A local yoga teacher will also be announcing online sessions soon, which I highly recommend: Ashtanga Yoga Liverpool website.

Scott – Use the time you would commuting to do washing and house jobs, then household chores can’t distract you during the day. If you don’t have an office or dedicated room, put work and our laptop away at the end of the day. To break up the day I got for a walk or a run to the newsagents at lunchtime or I walk my dogs. Also, when I previously worked from home we had non-work related coffee mornings online to stay in touch socially, not just about project work! I use this website for inspiration: Maren Deepwell website.

I think one of the most important things I have taken away from speaking to my colleagues about this is that I don’t need to be at my desk all the time. In work I take regular breaks due to the nature of being in the office, whether it’s making a coffee, saying hi to my co-workers in the next room, or taking a trip to the printer on the other side of the building. It can be easy to lose track of time without the regular office routine, so we hope these tips can help everyone adjust to the next few weeks.