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  • 10 October 2022
  • 11 min read

A Nurse's Guide To Working From Home

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    • Richard Gill
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  • 1166
"So, I keep a really good schedule of when I'm doing things, where I'm doing things to try and keep that work/life balance as well."

Claire Carmichael talks about her experiences working from home, how she manages her well-being as well as her effectiveness in the role and shares tips on how you can make it work for yourself.

Hi everyone.

My name is Claire Carmichael and I'm a registered Nurse and I've just recently started working from home.

So, I wanted to do some little tips, give you some little advice, information hopefully to help you, if you are thinking about or you are about to start a job which is working from home.

Organising A Dedicated Workspace

My first tip is if you can try and have a separate space for your workspace.

If you've got a spare room or another room to go into, set it up as like a little mini office or something like that.

If you are just sat, like I'm sat in the lounge now to do this video for example,  if you're just sat in the lounge for example working and then you're sitting there in the evening to watch television and relax, you're gonna find a struggle with that balance of work/life balance, because you're gonna think that you're always in your office, 'cause you're always in the lounge if that makes sense.

So, having that separate area, that separate space to have your office really does help.

And if you come with me, I will show you mine now.

Here we go, so down the corridor, into the spare room, oh gosh, it's a mess.

I'm sorry.

This is my little office.

So, I have my desk. I have two monitors, I've got a laptop and I've got a second screen monitor and that's just my spare room/office with some bonus background info.

So like I said, this is my little office and I wanted it like a greeny colour, just to keep those calm, neutral vibes going.

I've got some little fake plants, because I can't keep plants alive, just to keep me motivated. I thought they were cute.

Yeah, so this is my little office and it's really good to, like I said, have that set up so that you can step away from your office, still you can sort of go into another room in the evenings.

You can relax in a different room and it doesn't feel like you're always at work if that makes sense.

So, that is my number one tip.

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Taking Regular Breaks

My next tip is make sure you have regular breaks, especially if you're on the computer screens all day, make sure you are taking regular breaks.

Step away from your computer, stretch your legs, stretch your back.

Things like that.

Just step away from the computer, take a breath, grab a drink, grab a cup of tea and then come back.

Sitting Comfortably?

My next tip is make sure you've got good support.

So, I have a good chair, I have this chair.

It's got really good back support on it.

It's got arms to rest on.

It's level with the way I sit, my feet touching the floor.

It's just the right height for me, just to make sure that I've got that good posture, because I don't wanna be hunched over, typing on my laptop like this and I'm gonna get all sorts of back problems.

So yeah, so I've got that good stable support, just to enable me to work safely from home.

Also get yourself like a keyboard key,

I haven't got one, but you can get a keyboard adjustment, so you can tilt your keyboard, so that you don't get repetitive strain injury on your wrists and things like that from typing all day as well.

Make sure your computer screen is eye level.

Mine's down at the minute, 'cause I'm closing down for the day.

So, I've shut everything down.

Make sure everything's eye level, so you don't get any eye problems.

Make sure you get your vision checks as well.

That sort of thing.

Just make sure that you've got everything in place to maintain your own safety at work.

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Get Out And Get Fresh Air

My next tip is get out the house, make sure you're getting fresh air every day, because I've done this as well.

When I first started this role, I was spending every day in my office doing my work and I wasn't getting out and suddenly realised a few days later, I was like, "When did I last leave this house?"

Get out and get the fresh air, because the first thing you wanna look after is your own wellbeing.

You don't wanna become so bogged down with work.

You're in your four walls.

You're not getting any sunlight, no vitamin D, make sure you're getting out there.

Get your vitamin D, get some fresh air, get recharged, re-energised and then come back.

Dealing With Distractions

Make sure your family are aware that you are actually working, just because you are home, it doesn't mean that you're slacking off, that you can't work, things like that.

Just make sure that you've got no distractions, if you've got children, partners, pets, et cetera.

I know my cat sometimes if I leave this door open, will come in and distract me when I'm on the phone to a patient, which is really frustrating, 'cause you're there like trying not to let the patient know that you've got a distraction.

So, I do now lock the cat out because of that to avoid that from happening, but just make sure you've got no distractions.

Your family are aware that you are actually at work, not to disturb you, put a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door and just, switch off.

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A Good Routine Can Help Well-being And Effectiveness

Keep yourself into a good routine.

So, just cause you're working at home, doesn't mean you can stay in your pyjamas all day.

Well it does, but you can get into a routine of staying in your pyjamas all day and not putting makeup on, something like that. And you start to feel really sluggish.

You start to think, "I'm getting up", "I'm moving into my office", "I'm doing my work", "I'm going", "I'm watching telly", "I'm having dinner", "I'm going to bed and I'm repeating the next day."

So, try and keep, like I've been at work today, but I've got up.

I've washed, I've done my hair.

I've put some makeup on and I just start my day.

It just makes you feel so much better, than just getting up, rolling out of bed and starting work.

Just please keep that routine and you will feel so much better.

So, I keep a really good schedule of when I'm doing things, where I'm doing things to try and keep that work/life balance as well.

Don't get me wrong. It's okay.

I absolutely have a few times, rolled out of bed and just come into my office to start work, just because I've a really lazy morning and I've just thought, "You know what? I really can't be bothered. I'm just gonna start work."

But it does kind of make you feel really sluggish, doing that.

So, I like to keep that routine, get up early, make my breakfast, have a cup of tea, have a wash, get dressed, do my hair.

That sort of thing.

Just having that routine can make you feel so much better if you're working from home.

Check all of your technology before you start.

So, I start at 8:00 AM.

My first call with my patients is 8:00 AM.

I come in here at half past seven.

I start half an hour earlier, just to check all of the IT systems are working.

Make sure I've got no problems.

So, then I've got that half an hour to fix it or to get on the phone to IT or something like that, to report it to somebody, rather than rolling in at 8 o'clock and then realising, "Oh gosh, my laptop's not working".

"My screen's not working".

"The computer system that I'm using is not working."

And then the patient on the other end is probably waiting there for the phone call thinking, "Why aren't they ringing me?"

So, just give yourself plenty of time to check that all of your computer systems are working and just be organised.

Just because you're working from home, doesn't mean you can't be organised, come on.

Stay hydrated and maintain your nutrition.

So, I always have a drink, cup of tea which is finished, but I will always have a cup of tea and I'll have a cup of squash.

I've actually drank all of my squash, but I'll have like a bottle or a pint glass of squash next to me and I'll have a cup of tea and I will just make regular fluids as a go.

I feel like actually I drink more now than I did before because once I've put down the phone to a patient, I'll save the notes and then I'll go make myself a drink, come back, call my next patient for my next appointment, 'cause I've got that like 15 minutes in between each call.

So, I use that time to grab myself a drink, have a banana or something like that in between if I need some snacks or some nuts or something like that, some dry fruit, anything like that.

Just to help you keep you going, keep you motivated to work.

Just have those little treats in between, not naughty treats, 'cause we don't wanna get lazy and sluggish and lack of exercise and all that.

It's all gonna go downhill if you don't maintain it.

So, just make sure good nutrition, good fluids.

Get outside, exercise and yeah, you'll be okay.

Don't forget to speak to people.

I know that sounds weird, but it can be very, very lonely working from home, 'cause you're just here on your own.

You've got no colleagues around you or anything to speak to.

Whereas sometimes you go out for lunch with colleagues and things like that or pop into each other's rooms.

That's what I used to do as a GP Nurse.

So, just make sure you're speaking to people, like for us where I work at the minute, we use Teams and we have a chat function.

So, we are talking to each other on chat.

We schedule meetings virtually with each other, going out and seeing your friends in the evenings after work.

That sort of thing.

Make sure you are staying social.

Make sure you're maintaining that social status and looking after your own wellbeing.

Don't fall down a 'deep dark hole' where you become this at home.

Unless you want to.

I mean, if you want to that's fine, but don't fall into that sort of trap and just keep yourself active.

Keep yourself social.

Keep yourself organised and set yourself schedules.

So, I've got diaries upon diaries and calendars that I write on and still forget things sometimes.

But any meetings, anything like that?

I put on a diary, I've got my calendar, I've got my 'phone calendar as well to remind me.

I've got my laptop calendar as well that reminds me.

Because like I said, you can just come in here, do your work, but it doesn't feel like you're working, 'cause you're working from home.

Like it's very strange to go from that clinical setting to working from home can be very, very difficult and very strange.

So, it is keeping that organisation and scheduling things in to make you feel, "Okay, yes I am working". "I am doing this, it is okay."

Just to make you feel a little bit better, about things I think, 'cause that's one of the things that I did struggle with when I started this role as well, but just having that level of organisation, will just hopefully help you manage that a little bit better.

So, I think that's everything.

That's all the tips I can really think of from working from home.

My Tips For Success

So, just to summarise, keep organised, keep a good schedule, get that office set up for yourself, tell your family not to disturb you cause you are working.

Try and keep some sort of routine and structure, take regular breaks, look after your wellbeing, get outside and just, yeah, you'll be fine.

Make It Work For You

But you will work out your own routine, your own way of doing things. We're all different.

Just because I like to do things a certain way and these are the tips that help me, doesn't mean they'll help you.

So, it's about finding out your own ways of working and how and why, and things that you like to do or don't like to do, anything that's gonna help you through your role if you're working from home.

So, do more of what helps you.

So, that's it for me.

I hope you'll have an amazing day and I shall see you next time.

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About the author

I am a Registered Nurse with over 12 years healthcare experience including: elderly care, orthopaedics, sexual health / family planning, qualified GP nurse, transgender healthcare and now in my new role as an assistant lecturer (as of Nov 2022). I believe that nursing gets a lot of bad press, so I create blogs and vlogs to help anyone considering their nursing career and to create positivity surrounding our profession as I'm so passionate about nursing.

    • Richard Gill
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