What if Covid-19 had arrived in 2005? A BBC news article recently speculated how different things would have been. It may not feel long ago, but it’s within the last fifteen years that Facebook left American university campuses, internet call services acquired the ability to use video and 7 million UK households traded dial-up in for its speedier cousin; broadband.
Today, how to work from home is not a question of technology, software or connectivity, but one of physical health, mental wellness and, above all, comfort. It only takes a few hours to get to grips with new software, but weeks sat in a poorly lit corner on uncomfortable furniture can have serious consequences for our wellbeing.
This is the new frontier we face: what’s the secret to remaining happy, healthy and motivated while working from home in 2020?
Is your Wifi WFH-ready?
Although the hardware, software and connectivity are there, this doesn’t necessarily mean the speed is. Whereas our usual places of work are wired to the nines, many of our home setups leave much to be desired. So, the better your broadband, the better your WFH experience.
For the usual Netflix and browsing, we prize download speed above all else. But when we’re suddenly required to upload large files and share screens on conference calls, it’s those with slow upload speeds that will find themselves slowed to a crawl.
All the apartments at Vertus come with superfast broadband. Tested just a few weeks ago, this served our 10 George Street residents with a download speed just shy of 385mbps and upload speed of 37mbps. Compared to typical wifi - more in the region of 14mbps and 0.8mbps respectively - our residents will notice little difference between the office and their homes when it comes to their connection.
Can you improve your setup?
Try to recreate the feel of your usual workspace as best you can. We’re not suggesting you don a suit and tie (though feel free if it helps), but do think about lighting and consider your setup before settling down to work. A half-eaten bowl of cereal balanced on the edge of your dining table-cum-desk will do little to pull you into the work frame of mind.
It’s also important not to let all the things office managers have been advocating for years go out the window just because you’re now at home. Crouching over your laptop perched on the edge of a kitchen Eames chair is fine every now and then, but consider a proper work chair and monitor at the correct height. You’re neck, shoulders and back will thank you in the long run.
Set up next to a window for maximum natural light and give yourself a view. The living spaces at Vertus, for example, look out on the world through floor-to-ceiling windows, so you can share in the outdoors even while tied to your desk. And if like our residents you have a balcony, spend as much time in the fresh air as possible. As the spring mercury rises, this will become a real haven to escape to.
Do you feel close to nature?
Spending most of our time within the confines of a few rooms where we eat, sleep and relax isn’t considered healthy under normal circumstances. As it’s something we’ve now had to adapt to, it’s vital we make the most of the outside world when we have the opportunity.
When exercising, our 10 George Street residents have Wood Wharf’s 9 acres of green space, plus Harbour Quay’s expansive boardwalks to enjoy – opportunity for waterside strolls right on their doorstep. It’s easy to feel cooped up before too long, so make the most of wide-open natural spaces where you are to reclaim that feeling of space and freedom.
Have you found a new routine?
Although this is a great opportunity to diverge from the usual hastily grabbed sandwiches and really expand your lunch repertoire, don’t let timings slip. Buttering toast at 10.30am and tucking into your homemade Chicken Caesar Salad at 3.30pm isn’t conducive to a good work routine.
Similarly, don’t use that fact you’re at home as an excuse to do housework during business hours. It might be tempting to put a wash on or plug the hoover in, but wait until later. Otherwise you’ll find yourself playing catch-up late into the evening. Remember, when you’re at work, you’re at work (even if you’re in the living room).
As the boundaries between work and home become paper thin, the need for positive work/life balance is more acute than ever. Huge technological leaps are a real blessing, allowing us to feel more connected than ever and facilitating work so it’s as close to ‘normal’ as you can hope to get. On the other hand, we’re naïve to the physical and mental challenges this way of working poses. So, put yourself first and don’t make do with a temporary arrangement. Instead of considering it an inconvenience, approach it as a change of scene and just be glad it’s 2020 not 2005.