Tips & Tricks- Working (from home)

What is the Dutch population doing to keep a cool head? By means of these blogs, the Erasmus Happiness Economics Research Organization aims to give people in the Netherlands a fresh dose of inspiration. We do this by summarizing the tips & tricks and highlighting a number of quotes from the COVID-19 study. In the spotlight this week: working (from home).

The way we work has changed dramatically since the outbreak of COVID-19. Office workers are challenged to work from home, to keep in touch with colleagues, be productive and balance work and private life. People who cannot work from home, such as hospital personnel, construction workers and people working public transport, are facing a heavy workload. Other people have lost their income and may feel uncertain about their financial situation. How do you best deal with these changes? As most respondents are homeworkers, most of the tips & tricks below focus on how to work from home in a healthy and productive way.

Create routine and structure

Start setting up a workplace where you sit down every day, preferably with an extra monitor, high-quality chair, keyboard and computer mouse. This not only helps you to work more ergonomically, it also helps you to introduce order and structure in these times of uncertainty. Other options for bringing order are building in a work routine and structuring work tasks. For example, make a daily schedule and to-do lists. It is important for parents with children that have to be home schooled every other day to align work schedules with the schedules of everyone in the household. 

“In order to work effectively at home, it is useful to make lists and define times. Fixed time slots for work, so that not everything gets mixed up. Also, make sure your kids know when you're working so they know they won’t be interrupting you. ” (Woman, aged 46-55)

Stay flexible too

It may sound contradictory, but stay flexible with your work structure. So, see your work structure as a guideline. For example, not having a good working day? Take extra breaks. Are you having a good day? Still take breaks, as not having distraction by colleagues can cause you to work longer and harder than is good for your health. Also take spontaneous breaks, which can help you to boost your concentration. This way you ensure that recovery in time. During such breaks, eat a healthy snack or meal, talk to people in your household, or take a stroll outside.

"Think about what you need and consider what options you have for that need: and implement it with all the attention you have." (Woman, 25-35 years old)

Contact with colleagues

For home workers, contact with colleagues mainly takes place virtually. Because virtual contact does not feel as natural as face-to-face contact, it is important to contact your colleagues regularly, especially those who are alone at home. Freely share your ideas and experiences, ask for help if you need help with your work, and also discuss issues that are not related to work.

 "Get in touch with your colleagues and try not only to talk about work, but be genuinely interested in how other people deal with this crisis." (Woman, 36 -45 years old)

No work? Do something useful if you can

Are you in a challenging situation without (prospect of) work? Try to use your time responsibly. Doing a few useful things every day, no matter how small, can help. For example, get groceries for the older neighbor, follow an online course for an hour a day or paint a wall in your home. We know from research that these kinds of activities make you feel happy, which in turn ensures that you become more creative and feel better about yourself. Most important in this situation, however, do not be bothered if you are not as productive as usual. The world we live in has changed dramatically; everyone deals with these changes in a different way.

“I am a theater maker, so I use this time to familiarize myself with new developments (technology, video, social media, website, etc.). When I can go back to work, my knowledge and skills will be completely up-to-date which is going to save me many hours on a working day. ” (Woman, 36-45 years old)

Focus on the positive

Many respondents advised to get a "positive mindset". This helps people to deal with the fundamental way our work changed. You can help yourself to do this by, for example, writing down the advantages of the new situation (e.g., no travel time, traffic jams or office space). You can also teach yourself, perhaps with the help of a housemate or colleague, to focus on new opportunities to reorganize your work and life. An encouraging result from happiness research: people most often adapt to new situations, even to the situation we are facing now. Research shows that in times of crisis most people return to the happiness level from before a crisis.

“It helps me a lot to focus on things that I normally feel I can't get around to. So, for example, preparing my lectures well by studying articles extensively and putting extra effort in assignments. It makes me feel that I am productive and it is a way to get satisfaction from my day. ” (Woman, 18-24 years old)


Download all tips & tricks regarding working (from home) here

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