Your Cart is Empty

44 Work From Home Tips To Kickstart Your 2021

February 03, 2021 17 min read

Working from home was once most common among freelancers and contractors, but over the past year, it’s become the norm for many. And it’s looking to continue that way, too.

In a survey of 127 company leaders, Gartner revealed that 82% of respondents plan to permit employees to work remotely at least some of the time after the pandemic, and 47% plan to allow employees to work remotely on a full-time basis.

While working from the comfort of your home may seem more appealing than commuting to an office, for many, the novelty can wear off pretty quickly.

To help you get the most out of your remote working day, we’re kickstarting 2021 with 44 work from home tips from the experts. Here’s to your most productive, active, and well-balanced year yet!

Productivity tips

While there are many benefits of working from home, it can be hard to keep productivity levels going when your desk is mere feet away from your bed. Here are some tips to keep you motivated throughout the working day.

Get dressed!

Make sure you get changed out of your pyjamas and into something that is a little more work appropriate. As much as I love chilling out in pyjamas all day, sadly, it just makes me feel like I want to go back to sleep or that it should be a lazy Sunday. Getting changed into even joggers and a t-shirt will make you feel like you’re ready for the day. Plus, at least then you’re ready for any surprise Zoom calls!
Bella Adams, Marketing Manager at Aura Ads

Take lunch away from your screen

Make sure you spend your lunch break away from the screen. I’ve found that taking a lunch break away from all screens, including my TV, helps with productivity in the afternoon. Some suggestions include taking a half-hour walk, making a nice lunch, doing a bit of housework or even reading a book.
Jade Thomas, Office Manager at Pure Property Finance

Use the Pomodoro technique

We have a really bad habit of keeping our emails open, which means we can get easily distracted when a new email pops up, and before we know it we’re playing email tennis. Instead, when you need to do some deep focus work on a project, close down all possible distractions. This means closing your emails, muting Slack, and even putting your phone on silent. The Pomodoro technique is a famous productivity hack that works wonders for getting stints of work completed. It’s quite simple, you set a timer of how long you’re going to focus on one piece of work, and then you take a short break. 
Lizzie Benton, Founder & Culture Consultant at Liberty Mind

Create a designated workspace

If possible, try and create a ‘workspace’ at home – an area that puts you in work mode when you sit down to begin your day. If your space allows it, create a work area that’s away from any areas of the house that you associate with relaxing, to avoid any distractions. This also keeps work from seeping into your relaxation/downtime areas.
Leaha James, Head of Contact Centre Services at Connect Assist

Take time to reflect

Reflect at the end of the day. Slow it down and reflect on the achievements of the day and anything you have learnt that you could practice tomorrow. Think about things you need to leave and give yourself permission to leave them until tomorrow. Use the time you would be commuting to plan the day and to schedule the week. Use the 30:10 rule – 30 mins at the start of the week and 10 minutes a day to reflect and review.
Liz Sebag‑Montefiore​, Career Coach and Director of 10Eighty

Stay focused on your end goal

Setting goals is a great way to ensure you remain motivated. It’s important to remember that this pandemic won’t last forever and life will return to some normality again; at which point you want to be in a position to achieve your long-term aspirations. Therefore, setting short-term goals will keep you on track to achieving these ambitions and will provide you with something to focus on and work towards over the course of the next few months. 
Chris Farmer, Leadership and Management Training Expert and Founder of Corporate Coach Group

Split your day in two

If you’re finding it hard to manage an ‘always on’ schedule and seem to be unable to focus on a task for long, try splitting your day in half. If you are fresh and feel creative in the mornings, use this time to do proactive tasks, getting ahead on projects, contributing to team working and using that brighter daylight to power you on. As you move through the day, harness that post-lunch slump to do admin tasks that allow you to focus inward.
Erica Wolfe-Murray, Business expert 

Make the most of lighting

Lighting can increase productivity and prevent fatigue. Make the most of daylight, but have your desk side-on to a window so that the light doesn’t shine directly onto your computer screen. Use tall lighting for specific areas, where you need to concentrate on detail.
Juliette Thomas, Founder and Director, Juliettes Interiors 

Relax your eyes

If you are studying virtually using technology such as Zoom, it can be very tiring. Listening more intently is also draining. Everything is fed to us through screens (TV, phones, laptops etc.), so we need to stop every 20 minutes and look out of the window for at least 20 seconds to allow the eyes to relax. Do eye yoga: look up and hold, look down and hold, look left and hold, look right and hold, then close your eyes and repeat.
Liz Sebag‑Montefiore​, Career Coach and Director of 10Eighty

Mental Wellbeing

Working from home also often means spending a lot of time on your own – add into that a global health pandemic, and it’s no wonder stress and anxiety symptoms are surfacing for many in recent months. Here are some tips to keep your mental health in check while working from home.

Add moments of joy to your days

During the current lockdown and tier systems we have in the UK, it can be easy to feel negative about everything, and this then begins to influence your work. Look to add small moments of joy throughout your day to lift your spirits. That could be dancing in the kitchen to your favourite songs, or putting on something that makes you feel good. 
Lizzie Benton, Founder & Culture Consultant at Liberty Mind 

Keep comms going

Maintain communication with colleagues and replicate the usual start and ends to the day. Have a start of the day call or group exercise and introduce some fun ways of sharing what you are doing or where you are working. Using technology like Zoom enables you to see colleagues and wave to them – sharing mug shots or what type of biscuits you have with you in the office can be a bit of fun.
Liz Sebag‑Montefiore​, Career Coach and Director of 10Eighty

Practice grounding and breathwork

In these scary and uncertain times, it’s easy to let our minds wander and not allow ourselves to comprehend what exactly is going on around us. How we start our day is key to how we mentally prepare for the day ahead. Therefore, before the hustle and bustle of everyday life starts, take five minutes whilst your tea or coffee is brewing to do some grounding and breathwork.

  1. Stand outside on the grass, if possible, with nothing on your feet (your kitchen will do if the weather doesn’t permit!)
  2. Take a deep ‘belly breath’ through the nose, hold for five seconds, and then breathe out through the mouth for five seconds, wait for five seconds, and then do it again. Repeat this three times. 

Darren Kirby, Fitness Expert and Founder of Fitter Healthier Dad®

Replicate elements of your pre-WFH life

To ease stress, take a step back and think about the usual pattern of your life, pre-Covid. How does it work when you’re at your most content? Break it down into its main elements and see if you can quantify them – for example, social time, family time, partner time, food, exercise and work. Then see how you can replicate that in lockdown. You will need to be proactive and organise your time. Socialising through video calls will never be as powerful as face-to-face, but it could produce some soothing.
Dr Paul McLaren, Consultant Psychiatrist at Priory’s Hayes Grove Hospital

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness, relaxation techniques and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy are all genuinely useful. Many apps, such as Headspace or Calm, offer different types of meditation for different concerns, or simply basic meditation. These typically offer meditation as short as three minutes and up to 20-minute sessions. You can also access video therapy with a trained professional via Skype or online. 
Dr Niall Campbell, Consultant Psychiatrist at the Priory’s Roehampton Hospital

Breathe and stretch

If meditation is not your cup of tea, why not try some deep breathing exercises? Or take a few minutes out of each day to do some stretches? It may sound quite simple, but trust me, it makes a world of difference.
Mina Khan, Pharmacist and founder of Formulate Health 

Listen to music

Simply putting on headphones to listen to music can have many benefits, such as helping you relax and focus on something away from work and the outside world.
Dr Niall Campbell, Consultant Psychiatrist at the Priory’s Roehampton Hospital

Keep a journal

If you feel low, journaling can be a helpful way to unload emotions. Go with the flow. Tell yourself “what I am doing is enough”. Be good to yourself. If you have slept badly, accept you’ll be in a low, more anxious mood. Your energy will be low. If you are able, get daily doses of sunshine. For support with grief, anxiety, or mental wellbeing, you can call or text an organisation like the Samaritans, or you can access therapy online with a trained therapist.
Pamela Roberts, Psychotherapist at the Priory

Start the day with a morning self-care practice

Now is a golden opportunity to try putting a morning self-care practice into place. I find this really helps set the tone for the day and boosts my emotional resilience for whatever it throws at me. Doing a regular mindfulness practice first thing will help you manage anxiety (there are loads of apps you can try – I do the Calm app’s Daily Calm in the morning).
Suzy Glaskie, Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach and Founder of Peppermint Wellness

Take regular breaks to help you focus

Our productivity takes a dive if we don’t allow ourselves ‘off’ time. Take a pause every 45 minutes and do some gentle stretches or focus on your breathing. I like to keep a bottle of orange essential oil to hand and take regular sniffs – it helps me feel energised, uplifted and clear-headed.
Suzy Glaskie, Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach and Founder of Peppermint Wellness

Get outside

It’s easy to become chained to your laptop, promising you’ll take a break “just after I’ve replied to this email”. But, if you’re able to, do go for a walk (if you have access to some greenery, even better!). You’ll come back feeling infinitely calmer, more clear-headed, more positive and ready to crack on with your afternoon’s jobs.
Suzy Glaskie, Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach and Founder of Peppermint Wellness

Keep your leisure time work-free

Make a point of bringing your work to a close and enjoying that feeling of closure so that it doesn’t leach out into your whole evening. Switch off your phone, allow yourself to relax and recharge your batteries. That way, you’ll be able to pitch up feeling fresh tomorrow and crack on with your work with loads of energy. Treat yourself to something nurturing to signify it’s the end of the working day, for example, reading a novel, listening to music or lying down with your legs up the wall – this is one of the most restorative things you can do and is a lovely way to de-stress.
Suzy Glaskie, Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach and Founder of Peppermint Wellness

Practice breathing exercises

Every hour take a big deep breath in and hold this for three seconds, then blow out and exhale for a count of five seconds. Repeat three times.
Ailsa Frank, Hypnotherapist, Self-help Author and Founder of Feel Amazing app 

Write down stress points

Write down the hotspots of stress in your week, then try to change your routines to alleviate the problems from reoccurring next week. By identifying what is happening, you can then look for solutions to help, including talking to family members and explaining how you feel about the issues which cause you stress. Schedule a family meeting within your household to discuss the issues and make a plan to resolve them.
Ailsa Frank, Hypnotherapist, Self-help Author and Founder of Feel Amazing app 

Form a support network

Working from home can be very isolating, and many of us miss those social interactions we would usually have with colleagues in the office. It is, therefore, a good idea to create an alliance with two or three like-minded individuals who (preferably) you do not work with, but who are in a similar position as you. This can be a really effective way of reminding yourself of the bigger picture and that, in a sense, we’re all in this together. You will all be able to inspire and support each other through any difficulties you may be facing, and the group will also be there to celebrate your wins. This is particularly important at a time when very few of us have much to cheer about. 
Chris Farmer, Leadership and Management Training Expert and Founder of Corporate Coach Group

Decorate your office mindfully 

In terms of colour, green is the preferred choice for a home office space; it boosts creativity, inspires innovation, reduces eye strain and is good for spaces with computers. Red boosts brain activity and heart rate and can be inspiring. Blue has the opposite effect – it’s calming and lowers heart rate and blood pressure.
Juliette Thomas, Founder and Director, Juliettes Interiors

Enhance your office with flowers

Ensure you have fresh flowers or plants on your desk. This hit of green will add to your wellbeing and sense of life beyond your four walls.
Erica Wolfe-Murray, Business expert 

Physical Wellbeing

When commuting to work, most of us are able to get some steps in at the start and end of the day. However, working from home leads many of us to sit at our desks all day, with limited movement. This sedentary lifestyle can cause all sorts of health concerns. Here’s how to look after your body while working from home. 

Do micro workouts 

‘Micro Workouts’ are a great way of getting some movement and activity into what can otherwise be a sedentary lifestyle. If you sit at a desk to work, every time you get up from there, which can be up to eight times a day, do 10 of any of the exercises below:

  • 10x star jumps
  • 10x high knees
  • 10x press-ups 
  • 10x burpees

This will take less than a minute, and if you do 10 repetitions and get up eight times a day, that is 80 per day. Times this number by five (for the five days of the working week) and that is 400 per week! You will start to see significant improvements if you stay consistent, and best of all, you don’t even need to get changed to do it!
Darren Kirby, Fitness Expert and Founder of Fitter Healthier Dad® 

Support your back 

Working from home is one of the biggest lifestyle changes lockdown has brought to our lives, causing many of us to move from offices with ergonomic chairs and desks, to make-shift workspaces, such as using the kitchen table or sofa. This can have a knock-on effect for causing or exacerbating symptoms of back pain, as these spaces aren’t designed to work from long-term. My main piece of advice for those who are working at home desks would be to mix it up. Our bodies love variation, so try to change the position you work in – if you work at a desk or table, consider a laptop stand which will allow you to work standing up. Just make sure your screen is eye level, so you can avoid any neck pain. If you’re like me and the workday whizzes by without looking at the clock, try scheduling a ‘standing hour’ in your diary as a reminder.
Catherine Quinn, President of the British Chiropractic Association

Invest in a desk

To make your home office as comfortable as possible, invest in a desk that is the right height – around 70cm if possible. Too high and there is a risk of neck, back and shoulder pain. Have enough sockets and chargers to avoid lots of trailing cables and make sure you keep it tidy, make the most of the space and avoid clutter. 
Juliette Thomas, Founder and Director, Juliettes Interiors 

Stay active

When working from home, it can be easy to go through the days (and weeks) without doing any form of exercise. However, staying active can benefit both our physical and mental health, so it’s really important to keep moving. Whether you do a daily HIIT workout or go for a lunchtime run, try to keep a routine. This will also help break up your days.
Freddie Chatt, Remote SEO Freelancer

Stick to a food plan

Plan food in advance so you have your lunch prepared either the night before or the morning before your day starts. Also, plan evening meals so you know what you are going to eat and when. It’s important you are strict with yourself so you don’t mindlessly snack.
Ailsa Frank, Hypnotherapist, Self-help Author and Founder of Feel Amazing app 

Snack on nuts

Snacking on nuts, such as almonds, during the day is a fantastic way to make sure you’re getting enough melatonin and magnesium in your diet, which can help you get a good quality night’s sleep. Other foods high in these nutrients are kiwi fruit, turkey and oily fish, such as salmon.
Mina Khan, Pharmacist and Founder of Formulate Health 

Working from home with kids

Working from home with kids isn’t easy – whether you’re trying to fit your work in around toddlers who won’t nap or attempting to homeschool older children. Baby retailer, Kiddies Kingdom, offers some advice below.

Take some time to make a plan

This major shift in routine will have come as a big shock to most parents, so it’s important to take some time to come to terms with the situation and make a plan of action. The idea of spending all day at home with the kids can seem overwhelming and stressful, so establishing roles and responsibilities is key. If both you and your partner are working at home, take shifts to lighten the load and make it clear to children that this is non-negotiable. Establish what your coping strategies will be to prevent tensions down the line, whether it’s exercise, mindfulness or getting some vitamin D. This will help the whole family stay calm and focused, so should not be neglected.

Make it fun

There are lots of ways to make learning fun whilst staying at home, outside of the typical English and Maths lessons. Do some research around how much time your child should be learning per day, dependent on their age, and fill the rest of the day with interactive play such as baking, painting and exercise, to ensure each day is varied. Encourage a healthy use of technology by restricting screen time, but also incorporate devices into learning – there are ample apps and online learning sessions that are both fun and educational for all the family. This period will also give you some down-time to work from home or simply put your feet up.

Maintain structure

As tempting as it is to treat the family to a lie in and enjoy a leisurely breakfast, it’s important to try to maintain a ‘normal’ routine. Children will need formality and structure during this unusual time, and they’ll be looking to parents to provide that. Outline set times for learning and play throughout the day, whilst also being realistic with what can be achieved. This will help children realise this is not a holiday and demonstrate to them that you are replacing the role of teacher for the time being. 

Endorse movement 

To kickstart the day, organise a family exercise or yoga session as this will make sure everyone is stretched and feeling motivated. These home workouts don’t have to involve purchasing expensive equipment – many celebrity coaches are running online exercise workouts for both adults and children, and if you’re able to do these live, it can be a great way for kids to interact with their friends and classmates.

Work/life balance

When you work where you live, it can be hard to draw a line between work time and leisure time. Here are some tips on maintaining a good work/life balance while working from home.

Avoid overworking

Don’t overwork – there is a huge risk of burnout at present, as people try to juggle homeschooling and work, as well as the fear of possible redundancies; so people are overworking to compensate for the circumstance. But in order to be your most productive and healthy self, you need harmony. Finish work at a set time and don’t look at your emails or projects again until the next day. 
Lizzie Benton, Founder and Culture Consultant at Liberty Mind

Keep a routine

Similarly to when you were working in the office, build yourself a weekday routine. Include exercise, getting out into daylight and fresh air, settling at your desk, a coffee/lunch break, time to catch up with colleagues and time to focus on head-down working. And ensure you set a regular time for the end of your workday. A routine helps to keep everything in balance and means you can draw firm boundaries to protect ‘home’ and ‘you’ time.
Erica Wolfe-Murray, Business expert 

Get creative

Switch off all tech for a few hours each week and spend time making something with your hands. Whether baking, needlecraft, woodwork, DIY – it will help to rebalance you.
Erica Wolfe-Murray, Business expert 

Create zones in your home

Building the perfect working from home environment is all about zoning your spaces, to create some separation between the area you use to relax and the space you use to work. Being able to step away from your workspace at the end of the day helps you to switch off.

Zoning your workspace can be done with a simple chair and table, and if you don’t have an office or spare room, even positioning a slimline table in front of a window can help to create a separate place to work – although, ideally this would not be located in the bedroom, as research has found this impacts productivity.
Russell Glover, Head of Design, Peldon Rose

Shut down at the end of the day

Make sure you shut-down at your normal logging off time rather than working late. It’s so easy to work later than normal having all your work at home with you, but it’s important that you give your body a rest away from the screen and work. If you’re working later than normal, the chances are that you’re going to soon get fed up and feel overworked and then you’ll end up feeling seriously demotivated.
Emma Hull, PR Executive at Liberty Marketing

Set communication boundaries 

Choose when you will and will not engage with electronic communications and set some limits. It is not necessary to be available for communications 24 hours a day just because you are working from home. Decide when emails will go on and off and when to engage with work-related communications, including telephone calls and texts. Set ‘out of office’ messages to inform people of your office hours and take regular short breaks.
Dr Hannah Evans, Lecturer in Psychology at Leeds Trinity University

Tools and software

The way we communicate with team members and clients when working from home is totally different to how we would in an office. Because of this, messages can often get lost in translation. Here are some tools to keep communications going – without overloading your co-workers with emails. 

Have fun with Water Cooler Trivia

Water Cooler Trivia has found a unique way to harness the universal appeal of trivia and make it work for specific teams of co-workers and help initiate non-work-related conversations. Unfortunately, these have become harder to come by as teams have less opportunities to interact informally. These are the water cooler conversations that often occur when moving around the office. Water Cooler Trivia participants are simply given a deadline to complete the quiz by, and do it at a time that suits them. This avoids the need to schedule a time and frees up workers from yet another Zoom call.
Collin Waldoch, Co-founder and CEO of Water Cooler Trivia

Use tools to communicate effectively

Within most companies, email is used for practically all aspects of internal employee communication. But only a small fraction of the emails that hit our inbox deserve our immediate attention. And many of the emails we receive aren’t relevant to us at all! Too much irrelevant content often results in information silos, meaning the important stuff gets lost along the way. 
Paul Sleath, CEO at PEO Worldwide 

Chat tools

Real-time chat tools such as Microsoft Teams and Slack mean team members can see when each other are online and communicate through email-style threaded conversations – either privately or in group chats – and store and edit documents in relevant groups.

Video tools

Voice and video conferencing software like Zoom has also really taken off in the past year, allowing employees to schedule meetings, host live video conferences with colleagues or clients in other locations, and even share their screen to make collaboration that bit easier.

Planning tools 

With team collaboration platforms like Trello and Asana, staff can assign tasks and visualise workloads by using shared Kanban boards as interactive to-do lists, enabling better workflow management throughout the company and less unnecessary back-and-forth over email.

From productivity tips to work/life balance tips and everything in between, we hope this guide has given you the motivation and knowledge needed to work from home effectively in the year ahead.

Also in Stories

Deskmate Feature In Wired Magazine
Deskmate Feature In Wired Magazine

January 17, 2021 2 min read

Read More
12 Working From Home Productivity Tips
12 Working From Home Productivity Tips

October 28, 2020 6 min read

Read More
Digital working coupled with sedentary lifestyles
Digital working coupled with sedentary lifestyles

September 17, 2020 6 min read

Read More