Welcome to March, everyone. To make it extra special this year, let’s celebrate with a snowstorm. The Beast from the East is well and truly upon us and parts of the UK have literally come to a stand-still, with schools closing and motorists stranded.
If you are work from home and have no need to leave the house, you might be forgiven for saying silent prayers to the Gods of Work that you can escape the Beast for a little while, whilst you don your woolly jumper and crack on. Maybe. Or perhaps, you’re experiencing the effects of working indoors during a cold snap and struggling to keep warm and stay focused.
We don’t often experience temperatures as cold as this in the UK, and certainly not to mark the start of Spring. Much of the advice given out in times like these focusses on safety first – keeping safe on the roads and whilst out and about. This makes perfect sense. Then comes the advice about what to do if you can’t make it to your office and what your legal rights might be. Again, perfectly sensible.
But if you are a homeworker, it’s likely you will still be unable to avoid the effects of the cold, even when others around you might think you are working in total cosiness. It is actually very easy to let the cold overcome your working environment when you are working from home, often without realising it’s happening, and then you find your concentration levels start to falter, and your working experience becomes so uncomfortable that your ability to be productive takes a nose dive.
We hear a lot about self-care at the moment. Perhaps a buzz word, perhaps just common sense. We should give priority to caring for ourselves, absolutely. In an office, we rely on our employers to ensure our working environments are healthy and safe, and that includes controlling temperature. I’m sure we’ve all been in the office at the height of Summer when the effects of being too-hot make us feel uncomfortable, grouchy and sticky. And at the other end, during Winter when we start to feel the chill creeping into our bones and joints and making our heads hurt. In an office with an employer, we rely on the discomfort alleviating.
So, why should it be any different at home? As homeworkers, self-care, health and personal safety at work are just as important as being in an office. Even if cold snaps like this are not common, it’s important to know how to stay warm and work well in your home when they come. Here are some tips for you to help you get started.
A biggy is obviously to have your heating on, but this isn’t cheap and if you are self-employed, you are the one paying the heating bills. So, think about using your timer wisely and, rather than turning it on when you’re already cold, use it to heat up your house before you get to that point. Keep your radiators clear and close doors to rooms that you are not using so they don’t sap the heat.
Much as the idea of working in my PJs amuses me, I never feel like I’m working if I’m so casually attired, so I generally try for a blend of smart casual. If you are similar, feel free to ditch this world-view when it’s cold and make sure you layer up. Wear thermals, pad your body with lots of warm layers. You need indoor warm clothing, not outdoor warm clothing. I once tried working with a scarf wrapped around my neck. I didn’t get warm, I got neck-ache.
Drink Warm Things
Keep hydrated and have warm drinks. Stick to tea if you don’t want to have too much coffee, and if you’re one of those people that makes drinking hot water with lemon in it look cool (I’m not), do that. Keep your fluids up.
Eat Warm Things
Likewise, try to have something warm for lunch. Soup, pasta, whatever floats your boat but make it warm.
And one of the things we homeworkers are most guilty of is being sedentary. We often spend many hours at our laptops at a table or desk. Perfect for our body temperature to drop even more and our limbs start to ache. So, get moving.
Ordinarily, I’d say get out and go for a walk, but if it looks like something out of The Day After Tomorrow outside your window, then just make sure you get up and move around your house. Walk upstairs, walk into another room. Wiggle your toes, click your fingers. Dance if you want to. Nobody can see you, so you can be uninhibited. And it will warm you up. I have a Fitbit that acts a bit like a Drill Sergeant and beeps at me whenever I’ve been sitting still for too long, and then gives me electronic stars when I come back from the toilet. Happy days.
So, homeworkers, make sure you keep warm during this cold snap. Follow these tips, look online for others, and just take care.