How to Thrive Working from Home

Living Magazines Natalie Halliwell-Jennings Great Hall Ashridge House working from home

With many Ashridge House staff working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked Ashridge House Events Sales & Marketing Manager Natalie Halliwell-Jennings how she has adapted to working from home…

Ashridge House is a former royal palace to Kings and Queens, a grade II listed stately home with 190 acres of beautiful historic gardens and I am lucky to have an office at Ashridge with incredible views to the front of the house, so it was always going to be a challenge adjusting from working in a royal palace to my kitchen in Tring!

I have to admit my first two weeks in lockdown were not my finest, wearing athleisure wear instead of business attire and becoming a compulsive snacker in the process; I also found difficulty with switching off, as the lines became blurred with my laptop permanently stationed on the kitchen table. So as the lockdown looked set to continue in the weeks, possibly months, ahead, I created some top tips to help me adjust, and happily I have not only adapted to working from home but am now thriving!

Here are my top tips for working at home:

  1. Find a workspace that is separate to your kitchen if possible. The kitchen is the heart of your home and where you relax and enjoy your meals. Surrounded by tempting snacks is too distracting and also not great for your waistline!
  2. Make your new workspace as comfortable as possible, find the best chair available and support your back with cushions if required. I have now chosen a cosy corner in my lounge with lovely views to the gardens.
  3. Prepare a tea tray for your work station: a pot of tea, a cafetiere with some lovely coffee and water with some lemon slices. It’s important to stay hydrated!
  4. Do not wear athleisure wear, or stay in your dressing gown – wear appropriate clothes even it’s just jeans and a shirt as this will help you stay focused.
  5. Keep in touch with your colleagues; at Ashridge we start and end the day with a team Zoom call, it’s so nice to see everyone and helps to stay connected and share ideas.
  6. Have a routine and try to stick to your working hours and not let the lines become blurred. Take a lunch hour and regular breaks. Enjoy your lunch in the garden if you have one, take advantage of sunny weather to get some vitamin D and dine al fresco if possible.
  7. If you are struggling to adjust or caught up in thoughts and emotions which aren’t helpful right now, try meditation, exercise or talking to someone. At Ashridge we are super lucky to have Professor Megan Reitz create mindfulness sessions for staff to virtually link up to, so I try and check in with these to help keep me centred.
  8. Stay present, rather than wishing this time away. This is a moment in time, and soon life will begin to return to normal, where we can safely meet face-to-face with friends and colleagues; so until that time comes, pop the kettle on, enjoy this time working from home and I look forward to welcoming you to Ashridge House very soon!

If you are feeling anxious in these challenging times and would like some help staying calm and thinking clearly and creatively, check out Megan’s free mindfulness webinar here.