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Working at Home

Working at home (or at a friend's place, your parents' house or somewhere else remote) is different from working in the office.

The following tips are intended to help you work more efficiently at home and still manage to find relaxation in between.

working at home

Set up a work place


Have a desk that is dedicated to be your work place only. This will help you to relax when you leave your work place to have a break.

If you don't have a separate room, maybe you can use a large plant to separate your work place from the rest of the room.

If possible, place your desk near a window. Even in the winter months in Bremen the sun will come out every once in a while and can provide positive energy.

Have a daily structure

It is very helpful to have a daily structure that is more or less the same every day. You can use the chance to adjust your work day schedule to your personal biorythm. If you are more of a night owl, you might enjoy the fact the no one expects you to be at your desk in the morning.
Just make sure to start and end at approximately the same time every day. Otherwise your sleeping rythm will go out of tune.


Organise regular meetings with your supervisor / group leader

phone call

You should discuss with your supervisor or work group leader how much supervision or guidance you need. People have very different needs in this respect so your supervisor/group leader cannot possibly know what you need if you don't tell them.

Make up your mind how often you would like to be in contact (once a week? every other week? once a month?) and discuss how this could work. For many people a "jour fixe" works very well: a fixed day and time of the week / month for your meetings.

Organise opportunities for informal communication

Most working groups have regular online meetings during the lockdown (your working group doesn't? go ahead and initiate it!). But what is missing are the small chats during the coffee breaks or in the hallway.

For many people, this is also a challenge because they miss the opportunity to ask all those small questions you'd normally ask during the coffee breaks or when you just pass by a colleague's office. To make up for this, you could have a list on your desk where you collect all those small questions that are not important enough to call your supervisor or a colleague but you'd still like to ask them. Before your next online meeting, have the list at hand and make sure to bring in your question then.

For early career researchers, it is very important to be in contact with colleagues who are in a similar stage of their career. There is a lot of knowledge you can share, this will save you time and motivate you to go on with your own work.

Many people find it helpful to be part of a group of colleagues who meet regularly online for writing sessions or to exchange on methodology, tools or other questions.

online meeting

Have sufficient breaks

active break

Since there are no colleagues to pick you up for a coffee or to go to the Mensa, you need to organise the breaks yourself. It can help to set an alarm that reminds you of the next break.

As a rule of thumb, you should have at least a 20-minute break every 90 minutes. If you want to prevent back pain, you should get up every 30 minutes to move and stretch for 1-2 minutes.

It is important to actually leave your work place during those breaks! Get up, walk around a little bit, prepare a drink or snack during short breaks. Go outside during the longer breaks to get some fresh air and see a new environment.

And always remember: checking e-mails or Facebook does not count as a break ;-). Looking at a screen is quite a task for the brain. If you are looking for relaxation, get away from the screen. "Active break" is the keyword here.

Treat yourself with nice food

Especially during times of a social lockdown, we move a lot less than usual. A healthy diet helps to stay energetic - preparing meals and snacks with fresh ingredients can also be a rewarding distraction.

But it's not all about salads. The chocolate cake that is waiting for you in the afternoon can be such a nice reward for a busy day's work :-)

healthy food

Remember to end the work day

the end

This one is probably the most important if you want to survive working remote for a longer period.

There is no need to work longer hours at home than what you would have worked when in the office! If you feel that you need to work more because you were not efficient enough, you should analyse what the reasons are and then change something in your working routine or solve potential other problems.

Looking at a screen with its blue lights delays the development of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. It is therefore recommendable to get away from any screens some time before you plan to sleep.


Do something for yourself every day

When we are socially isolated, it is much easier to keep up a good spirit when we treat ourselves with something nice every day. Think about a few things that make you feel good like cooking a nice meal, chatting to a friend on the phone (maybe really use the phone if you have been looking on a screen all day), doing sports, taking a bath...

Ask your colleagues and friends what they are doing for distraction - the more ideas you have to choose from, the better.

call it a day


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