Many people will be spending more hours at home than usual and this increased indoor time creates many challenges, but also opportunities.
There's a chance to develop a strong work-life balance and spend more time with your children (when they're not crawling up the walls). But how do you fit your training in with your new routine? We've asked Team PH to tell us how they're adapting to working from home...
5 homeworking measures to consider to help avoid insanity
Andy Blow - PH Founder, husband and father of two:
Over the last decade I’ve transitioned from barely being at home to spending extended periods in my home office/shed while setting up Precision Hydration.
We moved the PH team to become mainly office-based in the past 18 months, but that all changed as the stint of COVID-19-induced home working is offering up new challenges.
My wife (also working from home) and I now have to juggle 24/7 childcare as our usual options for help (school, preschool, grandparents and childminders) are all off the cards for the foreseeable future.
To try to juggle everything, including getting some training in to stay reasonably fit and prevent outright mental craziness setting in, we’ve established the following 5 measures that seem to have been helpful:
1. Designated working spaces. I’m set up on a camping table in the spare room where I can shut the door when working. My wife is out in the garden shed (it’s a nice shed!) and it’s actually the old office that Jonny and I used during the early days of PH.
2. A daily timetable. The idea is that the timetable lets the kids know what they should be doing when and keeps a semblance of routine going at an uncertain time. We don’t adhere to it religiously but it provides some basic structure and stops them asking for TV all of the time! (don’t give me a hard time about the spelling mistakes on it either. We’re working on the basis that speed trumps perfection with getting stuff done at the moment!).
3. Exercise early in the day. I tend to do this anyway, but even more so now my wife and I are trying to tag-team a short run each weekday morning and a longer run at the weekends to keep that plate spinning. My wife is also doing yoga and some body weight training via online classes too. I am hoping to set up a chin up bar in the garden as soon as I can to incorporate some upper body workouts to the routine as I'm not hitting the pool at present.
4. Share training experiences and ideas online. I'm using Strava to log all of my workouts. At the moment it’s helping me to see what my usual training buddies are up to and I’m sharing new routes with other local runners as I set about exploring and expanding my repertoire of courses for the future. Anyone can join our PH club on Strava if they want to see what the team and many of our athletes are up to as well.
5. Changing expectations. I'm trying to change my expectations over the comings weeks and months. One small but significant positive that the working from home, full-time childcare situation will bring is that inevitably I’ll be taking time off during the day to mind the kids and working later into the evenings. During the day I’ll be doing my best to get them out for walks and bike rides so I expect to see my daily steps totals going up. Whilst my actual ‘training’ volume might drop a bit, my overall activity level should be a lot higher.
Advice from an experienced home-worker
Dave Colley - PH Marketing Director, Husband and father of a tiny person:
Long before doing so could literally save lives, I’ve done the lion’s share of my work from home. I haven’t been based in an office full-time since early 2015; and in those five years I reckon I’ve learned a thing or two about balancing work with the rest of life - mainly through making mistakes!
The extreme measures imposed in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis will make getting the balance right more important than ever and so I was glad when Chris asked me to share my thoughts as it forced me to pause and collect them…
1. Remember that training benefits all other aspects of your life too
Prioritising getting some training in might feel like a ‘selfish’ thing to do when there’s lots of other stuff going on, but it’s important to keep in mind that a quick bit of 'phys' can do wonders for your mental health, which will have a positive impact on your relationships and your productivity when it comes to work. I do some of my best thinking during or after a good run.
2. Use training to break up the working day
I know Andy likes to get his training in early, but I’m not a morning person at all (someone tell my daughter, please!). But I have 'Daddy Duties' in the evening, so when can I exercise?
I’ve actually found that getting a quick run in the mid-afternoon helps to reset and refresh my brain and sets me up for another burst of productivity before the end of my work day.
There have been so many days where I’ve sat down to work and barely left my desk all day, only to be rewarded with a stiff neck/shoulders and a pounding headache. But, if I head out for a quick run in between key tasks, I find I feel way better at the end of the day.
3. Combine exercise with errands
Before COVID-19 torpedoed our childcare arrangements, I would drop-off and pick up my daughter from her childminder 3 days a week.
I would generally walk her there in the stroller and run back home and vice versa in the evening. Sometimes I would run a convoluted route to increase the distance and other times I’d go direct and focus on speed. The total mileage involved was fairly minimal but I was going anyway so I might as well use the time to get some kind of run in.
Now that we’re in lockdown I’ll probably try and run to the shops (when we can’t get a delivery slot this side of 2025 online!) and walk back with the supplies (weight-training!).
How a pro athlete finds balance
Brad Williams - Pro triathlete, Team PH captain, husband and father of 3 tiny people
I've been "working" from home for the last six years.
Outside of training I've had various jobs, all of which have had no set hours. That has brought the ultimate flexibility but can also have many drawbacks. The most important thing I've discovered when working from home is to have a routine/schedule, and stick to it.
My days are not all the same as training largely dictates how my day goes, but to ensure I stay on track I always set an alarm before I'm due to start the next "event" of the day.
So, hold yourself accountable and when it's time to step away from "work" close the computer down and move onto the next thing.
Setting task lists for the day/week is also something that's been a big help in ensuring I stay on top of things and keep making progress throughout the day.
Don’t be afraid to take a few shorter breaks throughout the day. I've always found my productivity is much higher than when in an office setting, so if you're finding the same you should have a bit more time to get some fresh air.
Lastly, if you’ve suddenly cut your training routine down to 5-6 sessions a week due to current circumstance, don’t forget to shower...
I know, it sounds bizarre but when you are always accustomed to showering post workouts, you may end up forgetting to shower on the days you aren’t training (or so a friend has told me.).
Working from home with older children
Nina Harvey - PH Customer Service Specialist, wife and mother of 3 not-so-tiny people
With working from home suddenly becoming the new norm across the globe, many of us are navigating our way around working from a home with bored kids in it!
No doubt the parents among us have already come across a wealth of articles online with plenty of chipper advice on how to cope in this scenario.
As a mother of 3, ranging from 8-14 years of age, I’ve tried to put some of this into practice, with varying degrees of success so far.
I absolutely agree with the need for a dedicated workspace and slightly more fluid working hours. The best piece of advice being to set up somewhere with a door to close (if they can see you, then they’ll almost certainly think you’re available for an in-depth chat about who your favourite Minion is and why, or what’s for breakfast/lunch/dinner).
A closed door also serves to guard your eyes and mind from the mounting pile of laundry and the unemptied dishwasher.
Cut yourself some slack here, it’ll get done.
Kids need a dedicated workspace too and some structure to their day (no onesies after 9am…. I’m still working on that one myself actually).
Our teachers have done a fantastic job of sending out homework packs and online resources, but they absolutely don’t expect us to become teachers ourselves.
Speaking to my brother, who is a Head of Year, all he asks is that the kids try to read as much as possible.
I’m trying to keep a positive spin on this new life we find ourselves in. This will be a time our kids will look back on and, with any luck, it will instil in them a new appreciation for what they have.
Get them involved in your training sessions. If you’re still lucky enough to be able to train outside (2 metres apart) go for that training run or ride, but swing by the house with a few k’s to go and scoop the kids up to finish it together.
Throw down a Family Plank Challenge. That’s PE sorted.
There’s a good chance we’ll get to learn some pretty cool stuff from our kids too - “HouseParty” and some tunes from NLE Choppa anyone?... you heard it here first.
Got any tips for fitting training in with working from home? Let us know by emailing email@example.com.