The past weeks and months have been unsettling to most of us and it feels like the world will never be quite the same again. One of the positive things that has come out of this is that our environment, which was in dire strain, is thriving. People are learning to work effectively from home and companies are opening up their eyes to the possibility of doing things differently going forward. While the DRC has already been a really green company as most of our patients are receiving our services via video call, phone, app and email, we have also further adjusted to having our employees work remotely as much as possible, doing regular team meetings and patient reviews effectively and efficiently virtually. We have realised how little our productivity has been affected by this and how efficient and agile we can be. This inspired us to share our lessons learned with you to hopefully help you and your company improve your carbon footprint without losing any productivity.
- Determine your weekly schedule
This is a good starting point for you and your team. Define which days of the week you would all benefit from seeing each other in person. Aim to schedule all of your in-person meetings for those days to manage everyone’s expectations. This might seem a bit daunting at first but with clear, agreed days and times, everyone will get used to this quickly and will become very focussed on using the dedicated time efficiently and effectively. Also try and schedule in all of your video and phone meetings as far in advance as possible to accommodate each other’s needs without compromising efficiency.
Having one or two dedicated days where you and all of your colleagues come into work reduces travelling time, car and public transport usage and overall stress. You and your colleagues will feel more rested, be more productive and the environment will get less polluted. It’s a win all around.
- Establish a Daily Routine
Having a regular routine is incredibly important to ensure you remain productive. Set your alarm, get yourself ready in the morning and start work at the usual time. Having structure is very comforting and getting ready also means that you will be available for any ad hoc video calls during work hours. Try and plan your meals the evening before so you don’t keep going to the fridge, make to-do lists and commit to staying focused on work during work hours and switch off completely outside of your work hours. This will take a bit of discipline at first but you will benefit greatly from having an established routine.
A good routine combined with a regularly updated to-do lists also makes your more efficient outside of work. If you know that you always go food shopping on Wednesdays and Saturdays, you can add any additional errands like going to the dry cleaners and post office to those errands, reducing the amount of times you need to drive everywhere individually. This, in turn, helps you reduce your petrol consumption. Given you are saving 1-3 hours of travelling to and from work every day, this can now become your errand time on those days as well.
- Create a Dedicated Workspace
Having a dedicated workspace is a frequently undervalued aspect that is crucial for working from home effectively. Try and find an area that is dedicated only to work without any distractions. Keep it clean and tidy, make sure you have enough light, get rid of any distractions and have all of the equipment to work productively and comfortably. Make sure you have a decent computer that has all of the software you need. Ensure that your internet connection can manage all the programmes you depend on for work and that your printer is set up and has enough ink at all times. Also make sure that the chair you will be sitting on for most of your day is comfortable and doesn’t cause you any backpain. Some people really benefit from having a plant close to their workspace so, if you have a green thumb and like plants, give that a try as well.
Having a well set up workspace will give you the ability to work from home effectively as you will be able to create everything you’re creating on your computer at work, interact with all of your colleagues effectively via phone, video call and email and save you time and energy lost travelling. This will save additional heating and energy required in your officed space, while your home heating and energy is running simultaneously. You are also able to change your clothes at home if you get too warm or too cold, which would require the use of additional heating of air-conditioning energy at your office space. Everyone wins.
- Have a Clear Schedule for Yourself and Your Family
Having a clear understanding of what happens and when is incredibly important for everyone you come in contact with during your work hours. This is the best way to manage everyone’s expectations and keep yourself focussed. For yourself, this means mapping out when you will be doing what for your entire day every day. During your defined work time, turn off all notifications, go to your designated work space, put on noise cancelling headphones and get to work. Schedule in me-time and family time for the times you used to spend in transit to and from work and use that time to consciously appreciate this new found life quality by going for a walk, reading, listening to a podcast, stretching or working out. Whatever brings you joy and makes you feel better is the right option.
The time you used to spend in transit is now a time that can be used to improve your emotional well-being. If you have been feeling unwell, try and use this newly gained time to apply some self-care and, if this doesn’t help, schedule in a time with your GP or a counsellor. You finally have time to do all of the things you have wanted to do for so long but never had time for!
- Make the Distinction Between Work and Play Clear
This is something a lot of us get wrong. Once you have created a clear schedule and routine, it is extremely important for you to use your breaks to change scenery for a bit and give your brain a rest. Switch off your computer during those times, leave your designated work area, engage with friends and family and take a proper break. Reconnect with the environment by going for a walk instead of taking the car. Enjoy this new reality, think about all of the things you are grateful for and share the love with those around you.
Challenging times often enable reflection and growth and it looks like this crisis may have a silver lining for both you and our environment. Always remember that this, too, shall pass and that new, brighter times are ahead.
NHS Nutritionist & The DRC Lead Registered Nutritionist