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Emer joined Oxford HR in 2018, having completed an MA in European Interdisciplinary Studies at the College of Europe in Warsaw. She has a BA in French from the University of Southampton and is now based in Amsterdam.

Emer has worked a number of roles for organisations like BRAC, Artzen zonder Grenzen, WWF International, and Reall.

It has been 44 days since I last saw the inside of our new office in a quiet street in the centre of Amsterdam. The last chairs had just been assembled and the new plants settled in their bright or shady spots when COVID-19 finally reached us. The whole Oxford HR team took part in a practice run of remote working on March 11th and 12th and never went back. The plants have since been rescued.

Many of our team members have already been working remotely on a full or part-time basis for a long time, allowing us to have a presence in Greece, Morocco, Kuwait, Oslo, and even distant Manchester! Tips have been shared freely on our Teams channel, and we are lucky to have a lot of existing expertise in the team. We are also very fortunate that most of our work within the Research and Admin team is done on a laptop anyway.

If you’ve found the switch to remote-working tough, here are some tips we hope might help.

1. Make a schedule that suits you
Having some kind of structure to your day is essential, even if you need to change that structure on a daily or even hourly basis. You may need to factor in caring for family members or looking after children, but try to establish working hours and stick to them. The risk of working into the evening and not having a proper rest is high, which is bad for you as well as your motivation. Feeling a sense of control when so much is out of our hands helps me, so my half-hearted bullet journaling has been ramped up this past month.

2. Separate work and home
Make yourself feel like you’re ‘going to work’ in the morning with a nicer routine than rushing to get dressed and jumping on a packed train at 7.30am. Get dressed in something comfortable but not too casual, take a shower (if you’re a morning shower kind of person), catch up on the news with a cup of coffee, whatever you like. Equally, try to return your makeshift workspace to home mode in the evening (I clear away the pile of books my laptop sits on). Taking a shower or going for a walk helps me leave feel that work time is over.

3. Take the opportunity to learn new things
If you have the mental energy and the availability, then your usual two hour commute time could be dedicated to learning something new, maybe getting you out of a professional rut. There are lots of free online courses available, so if you’ve always been curious about the Circular Economy or AI, this might be the perfect time to learn more. If your mind is full enough, many of our team have turned to sourdough bread making or crocheting as a stress reliever.

4. Move around
Depending on what your restrictions are, try to get outside once a day to stretch your legs and reconnect with the natural world a bit. Try not to eat lunch at your desk, and try moving your workspace half way through the day.

5. Keep up some social activities
Take advantage of any attempts to keep up the social contact at your (virtual) work place, try calling instead of emailing once in a while, and keep Housepartying or Zooming with your family and friends. If your concert or play was cancelled, trying livestreaming or playing something on YouTube with some candles and drinks.

We’re lucky to be able to work safely from home at the moment, and our thoughts are with those facing this COVID-19 crisis without adequate access to healthcare or food and shelter. Many of our clients are working on the frontlines of this crisis.