OPINION

Working from home: utopia or chaos?

Our lives have changed due to COVID-19. Each day presents challenges we would not have imagined even a few weeks ago.

For many of us, this means our working lives are quite different.

More people are working at home, which requires decisions about how to create a work environment in our homes - homes that, in most cases, are not ideally set up for work.

Flexibility is critical in creating an effective work routine in this ever-evolving situation.

Clear and transparent discussions with supervisors and managers is needed to ensure everyone understands what is possible and, importantly, what is not.

To create a productive work environment it's important that you identify a place which is going to be your designated workspace, preferably with a door to separate you from the rest of the house, or a table or other space.

Physical boundaries are important to help you balance your work and home life. Set up your work station so you can sit comfortably, use a separate keyboard and mouse, and attach a separate screen if possible.

You should also identify a time when you work best and how that fits with the other demands on your time. Your colleagues need to know when you are available and when you are not. If you have caring duties, work out a schedule around them.

Establishing boundaries early on is important; they may change, but you still need them.

Remember to exercise. Working at home is much more sedentary than going to work: You need to find time to do some physical activity every day.

What you do and how you do it will depend on your usual activity level, but many possibilities are available online that do not require leaving the house, and can be done without specialist equipment. These are unprecedented times. Be kind to yourself, your friends, family, partners and everyone else you need to interact with.

We are all adjusting to a new way of living and working.

Work is important, but we need to accept that it will be impacted.

We need to adjust our expectations so that we are realistic about what we can do and the time it will take.

It is important to keep working - it is good for our health and, of course, generates an income - but creating utopia out of chaos will take time.

Dr Jodi Oakman is an associate professor in Ergonomics, Safety and Health at La Trobe University.

This story Working from home: utopia or chaos? first appeared on The Canberra Times.