Since 23rd March 2020, we’ve experienced a dramatic change in our social and working situations. Being asked to stay at home as much as possible means that many workers have found themselves moved from office blocks to kitchen tables.
In fact, the Office for National Statistics measured that in April 2020, 46.6 per cent of people did some work at home. A staggering 86 per cent of these people declared they had done so as a consequence of the pandemic.
In addition to these homeworkers, 4.7 million people were also still on furlough by the end of January 2021. Many people in businesses that have been closed due to continuing lockdowns are vying to return to their workplace.
With new home-working routines, it’s unsurprising that we’ve adopted some new habits – some of which may be less than satisfactory. But with a return to work on the cards, highlighted by the Government’s modelling for a roadmap out of lockdown, we must prepare ourselves to change our habits and routines once again.
Here, we explore our lockdown habits and how to quash these quarantine qualities and get ready for a return to work.
Our morning routines have changed as a consequence of working from home. Where once we would prepare ourselves to leave the house feeling fresh and ready for the day ahead, now you may expect to wake up and immediately land yourself in front of your computer to work.
The short commute between the bedroom and home office has led to the rise of a comfortable uniform, where workers no longer need to get dressed in their usual business suits or smart-casual wear for the office. Instead, wearing jogger bottoms, comfortable hoodies, or even pyjamas has become the standard apparel of homeworking.
One fashion analyst index said that the number of sold-out sportswear items had increased by 17 per cent in 2020 compared to the previous year, a consequence of lockdown restrictions. It’s clear that comfortable clothing has become the go-to choice for many people working at home. But this won’t last forever.
Preparing for the return to work, we should get ready to remotivate our laundry routines. No, wearing the same hoodie all week will not be an option when we’re back in the office. Understanding the best way to look after our smart and business clothing in washing machines and tumble dryers will help us get ready to put on our best shirt and quality trousers for our first day back at work.
A smart and clean uniform can give us a boost to continue with our hard work.
The office kitchen
Not everyone has had the luxury of a dedicated home office space. Instead, many of us have relegated our bedrooms, living rooms, and kitchens to be used as working hubs – it largely depends on where the internet works best.
However, if you’ve found yourself sitting at the kitchen table on a chair that’s usually reserved for dining, you may have fallen into the trap of temptation. With our home kitchens in such short reach, the urge to fill ourselves with snacks and food throughout the day has been too much. Cakes, biscuits, and fun treats are a constant companion in many people’s home-office spaces, but after a year of the pandemic, a little self-will should be prioritised.
Quit the constant eating and get healthy. Try and limit yourself to just one biscuit per cup of tea or coffee. Get ready to return to work, where your finger activity will be focussed on keyboard typing instead of searching the cookie jar.
Another victim of homeworking is our poor bones. The use of laptops and makeshift office furniture, whether coffee tables or unstable wooden dining chairs, has forced some unusual working positions. Hunched backs, numb legs, and stiff necks aren’t symptoms of the coronavirus, but they do indicate that you’ve been working from home for too long.
Between laptops and smartphones merging the worlds of life and work, the lack of physical exercise is another cause of what has been coined as ‘tech-neck’. However, the remedy is surprisingly simple.
Sitting up straight and doing some healthy stretches can relieve the pain and improve the consequential headaches and fatigue that the condition can create. It won’t be long before we can return to our ergonomic office chairs and large desktop displays. But until then, looking after yourselves with a bit of relaxation and yoga can go a long way. No one wants to lumber back into the office with a crooked back and sore neck. It’s not a good look.
The triumphant return to work will take a lot of adjustment, just as it was difficult to begin working from home. But ditching our lockdown habits will make this change even easier. Get prepared by adopting healthier habits, and you’ll be ready to do some amazing work when you see your co-workers again.