Top tips for home working during Covid-19
The role of Museum Development is to support museums and the people who work and volunteer for them. These are uncertain times, in which many of us won’t see our colleagues for some weeks or months.
Working from home and apart from colleagues will be a new experience for many and can take some getting used to. The team at Museum Development North West (MDNW) has always worked remotely and often from home-based offices. So here are their top tips about working from home. Some of these you’ll find in other sources, some are unique observations from the team.
- Even if you don’t have a work thing to discuss, still ring your colleagues frequently to ask how they are and chat about the normal stuff you’d talk about in an office.
- If you have a long phone call, put it on speaker if you can so you can type/write with both hands. Or walk around the room whilst you’re talking.
- Don’t wear pyjamas but do wear comfortable clothes. Slippers are proper workwear.
- If you’re able to get out, go for a walk or potter in the garden/yard before you start work or at lunchtime. If it helps, think of your early morning walk as your commute to arrive at the office.
- Cats will sit on keyboards. Accept it.
- If someone’s got on your nerves, phone a colleague and have a rant. Don’t sit and let it fester, talk to someone.
- Maybe brush your hair/beard before any video conference meetings.
- It’s not unprofessional to take your laptop from your desk/kitchen table and curl up with it for a bit on the sofa if that’s where the sun is shining.
- Have a thinking rug or a space where you can sit on the floor, draw ideas on flipchart paper and be creative.
- Try podcasts if you need some background noise.
- If you’re stuck on something and the words/thoughts just won’t come, do something completely different for 10 minutes – go to the postbox, feed the birds, fold the washing if you must. But it will come to you.
- Send each other sticker emojis or clips of people dressed up as dinosaurs doing ballet (just not too many).
- Make yourself a nice lunch that needs crockery and cutlery. Banish the Tupperware and don’t eat at your computer.
- If it helps to structure your work day like you would in the museum do it. But don’t make the mistake of starting work earlier than you normally would or finishing later than usual just because you’re saving on commuting time. Finish in time for Pointless occasionally.
- Block time out in your calendar to do specific tasks, even small ones, and treat them like office meetings – definitely to do then and not to be moved back.
- Don’t worry about kids crashing in during a video conference – it might be the setup for the perfect viral video
- Don’t use tea/coffee as either procrastination or a reward for completing something, put the kettle on when you’re thirsty.
- Once you’ve decided you’ve finished for the day, put your work stuff away. But if an idea or task comes to you and you just have to get your notebook out again and write it down, do it.
- Pick up the phone and talk to a colleague rather than have a long thread of short emails going back and to between you.
- Children, elderly parents and neighbours will interrupt the best laid plans, especially now when so many people will be at home during the day. Go with it and don’t feel guilty if you didn’t get everything done that you’d planned.
- You can have a conference call without needing to set up powwow etc for up to five people if they all have iPhones – just add and merge calls together.
- If you’re going to stand in the middle of the living room animatedly practising a presentation you’re going to deliver at a conference, check first what day your window cleaner is due or you’ll both be startled.
- Use tools such as Dropbox to share documents. You’ll get into a mess if lots of drafts of a document keep going back and forth via email.
- Take regular short breaks and stretch out your back and roll out your shoulders if you have been sat for any length of time.