Published on 20th March 2020
Many freelance agricultural journalists and communications professionals will be used to working from home.
But the Covid-19 crisis is now forcing it on our entire membership for the foreseeable future.
Working from home can sound hugely attractive – no commuting, pets for company and the opportunity to keep on top of life admin at points during the day.
But it also brings its challenges, especially as closure of UK schools could mean sharing a workspace with children.
The Guild’s team of directors – some of whom have been working at home for more than 20 years – have provided their tips for those struggling to establish a routine.
Get dressed – yes, really! The temptation to work in pyjamas exists, but getting mentally prepared for work is important, even if you’re not going to the office.
Find your space – where are you likely to get interrupted or distracted the least? It might be a spare bedroom or the dining room table, but try and find somewhere you can shut the door when you’re working. And don’t spread yourself across the house. You will begin to lose sight of where home starts and work ends.
Set working hours and days – and stick to them. Be clear with your customers and colleagues. Don’t get side-tracked by household chores either. They can wait until outside of working hours.
Take breaks – you need to clear your head and move your body every now and again. Put your phone down and get away from your computer when you do this.
Have a walk – it is important that home doesn’t become your place of work. Get outside, walk the dog – or walk someone else’s dog – then come back to your computer refreshed.
Find your food – the ultimate working from home menu is hotly debated by freelancers. Soup and bagels are popular, and cheap. Eggs are extremely versatile. Leftovers from the night before can also be a God-send, if you remember to save some. Regular snacking will keep energy levels up.
Interact – getting away from distractions and noisy offices is a huge bonus for home workers. But it can be isolating. Pick up the phone, chat on social media and see if friends or neighbours want to share a lunchtime walk (while following government advice). If you need to hold meetings, using apps like Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts or Skype are great solutions.
Recognise your achievements – make a list of what you want to accomplish during the day and tick off everything, no matter how small. You will get a sense of achievement at the end of the day.
Equip yourself – unreliable internet connections can be a real problem for those working in the media who often send and receive large files. If your broadband is slow, see if a 4G router or other technology will help you. A good chair will save your back – working on the sofa will generally become painful. Stock up on office essentials such as paper, pens and highlighters.
Play music – hugely controversial! Some people can’t work with music on, some can’t work in silence. The key is to find your own preference.
Know your IT – if you are not tech-savvy, learn. Or ask for help. There is no IT team waiting in the next room to help you.