Tips for working remotely during Covid-19 crisis

Blog for members
09 April 2020
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There’s lots of advice available about working from home, but this is not just working from home – this is an incredibly challenging situation for all of us. Our Chief Executive, Anne Marie Graham reminded us we are 'at home, in a crisis, trying to work.'

At UKCISA we’ve selected some of the most useful advice that we have found about working from home at this time and collated links to external websites including a very practical blog for all of you who are now also trying to balance work with homeschooling (see links at the end)

Your working environment

  • Ideally allocate a dedicated space for work that you go to and leave.
  • As far as possible sit on a comfortable chair that supports your back at a desk or table with the monitor at eye level (looking straight ahead) so if you are working on a laptop, use a separate keyboard if you have one. 
  • Can you stand up for part of the day? Is there a surface where you can comfortably stand and type or stand up to read documents online or when meeting online?
  • Keep your desk as tidy as possible and have some nice objects to look at – it’s good for thinking time to have something nice to focus on (the picture above is a one and a half inch vase from Japan that sits on Director of Policy, Julie Allen's desk) 
  • If you are working on a table that has another use (eg kitchen table), clear your work materials away and out of sight at the end of your working day to enable you to switch off.
  • If you are living and working alone, can you work with the radio or music on in the background? See the link below to the BBC mindful playlists.

Your schedule

• Establish a work routine.  All the advice that we have read has emphasised the importance of keeping to a start and finish time and to take regular breaks.
• Can you introduce something into your routine to ease you in and out of work?  While keeping a schedule, take advantage of any flexibility you have around managing your own time. Set your alarm for your usual time. If you no longer commute to work, can you exercise before you start? Do some yoga or meditation?  If you usually read on your commute, why not read something non work-related? And get dressed for work. This can really help you feel better and mentally prepare for your working day. And establish a routine for finishing.  It’s really important to switch off physically and mentally to ensure peace of mind.
• Set rules to minimise interruptions.  This is a huge challenge to those of you with caring responsibilities but as far as possible, let others in your home know when you need time to focus or when you are on an important and/or confidential call with colleagues or students.
• Eat well.  Make time for breaks and eat (a nice) lunch away from your workspace.

Stay socially connected.

• Again, all the advice we’ve read strongly recommends ensuring you stay connected with your work colleagues.  At UKCISA we are using Zoom and Microsoft Teams to regularly check in with each other – and allowing time for informal chat just as we did in the office.
• Check in regularly with your manager and if you manage a team, keep checking in with them. It can be easy for staff to go off track or lose focus or lose a sense of self-worth when working in isolation. 
• Build and use your support network.  We know the UKCISA network is really important to members and while we are unable to meet in person, read and post messages on the UKCISA online discussion forum, attend the online events that we are setting up for you and also reach out to peers in your networks

Useful links

Share with us

How have you adapted to trying to work at home at the moment? Why  not share your experiences and tips with us in the comments below.

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Duncan Lane, Director of Advice & Training, UKCISA
22 April 2020
If you are giving advice on immigration issues, the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) has issued useful guidance on advising from home. Much of it is helpful for advising at home on any topic, not just immigration.

Here is an example of one of the 'Q&A' items within the OISC guidance on this:

Can I work from home?
Yes, there is no reason immigration advisers cannot work from home. As this is temporary, it is not necessary to formally change your place of work.
Information security is important, so we recommend that know your organisation’s policy for managing sensitive information. We would also advise that contact with clients is by phone or electronic communication wherever possible.

The full guidance can be viewed here:
Please note that if your immigration advice work is covered by any Ministerial Order exempting you from registering with the OISC, only the first five items of Q&A (as at 22 April 2020) are relevant to you.