With workers now being sent home in droves as a result of Covid-19 many will not be prepared for the physical and mental adjustments needed to make a success of long days alone.
If you work for a large corporate, your employer will have flexible working policies in place and is most likely used to supporting employees who work from home.
That's the case with Vodafone. Nonetheless the telecommunications company is grappling with new challenges thrown up by Covid-19. "We are in unprecedented times," says Katie Williams, the company's HR director.
In preparation Vodafone decided mid-March to assign half of its staff in each building to work from home, week-about. Almost all have the appropriate kit already including a sim-enabled laptop or iPad and mobile phones. Their devices can tunnel through the firewall into the Vodafone system to access their documents and use collaborative tools.
In some case, such as with call centre workers, Vodafone is providing staff members with desktop PCs in their homes.
As well as physical safety, workers and their employers need to consider their mental health.
"For some people it can be absolutely joyous to work from home," she says. "For others it can be isolating and lonely."
That is a challenge for the employee assistance programme. To cope, says Williams, individuals should:
● Get dressed in the morning. Williams gets dressed for work and puts her makeup on, even if working from home, because it gets her in the right frame of mind.
● Have a schedule. Start and finish the day at fixed times and schedule meetings.
● Telephone colleagues instead of emailing. By calling colleagues you are making up for some of the lost social connectivity.
● Get outside. Make sure you schedule breaks and get into the garden or go for a walk around the block.
Your work space
Define where work will be. That might be the dining table or a corner of the bedroom if you don't have a dedicated office. If you're lucky it will be a sleepout or even a dry, warm internal garage. Consider where the noise comes from.
If you're going to be at your desk for extended periods of time, consider the ergonomics. Vodafone employees have been given an ergonomics checklist. "A key part of working from home is health and safety," says Williams.
"Are your feet firmly on the floor under your desk while you are working? Are your elbows higher than the level of the desk?"
Make sure you're using a purpose-designed office chair and if you're on the phone a lot, a headset. If you use an ergonomic keyboard and mouse at work, you need them at home. Large employers are likely to have departments that can help with health and safety advice and equipment. If working from home is thrown on large numbers of workers at once, smaller organisations may not have the resources to cope.
Help, the kids are at home
One of the Covid-19 specific issues facing those working from home is dealing with children.
"The question is how to send a 'do not disturb' signal to the children in the house," says Williams.
"We are tackling what support to give our team. It is fair to say we are in uncharted waters."
For some the answer may be a locked door, noise-cancelling headphones or a work hat, which, when on, signifies that they're working.
Not all children will buy it or are old enough to be left in another room.
Tough for smaller organisations
While corporates have pandemic plans and workplace policies that have factored in working from home, smaller organisations may not be prepared for the reality.
They may not have plans for providing staff with hardware and software to do the job from home or supporting that work remotely. That can be an issue as most home-based employees will need to be able to access their applications and files.
The computer or laptop will need to be sufficiently modern to run the software needed. Not all employees' own technology will have the up-to-date security software to keep hackers from accessing the organisation's IT system through the back door with phishing or network attacks. Cyber criminals are allegedly already using coronavirus-themed attacks.
Smaller employers don't always trust their workers to be productive at home. The best way to deal with this is to keep your employer in the loop of your daily or weekly achievements in your new workplace.
Finally, endeavour to embrace the change. Maybe you can spend more time with your children, less on the road commuting and cut back on fuel or public transport fares.