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Montage of empty home office desks

With most people now working from home, the SITU team have shared some hints, tips, advice, experiences and challenges that they have faced on how they have effectively adapted to working from home due to the current circumstances surrounding Covid-19. From morning yoga to an evening walk, the team have shared how they have been keeping motivated. 

Lucy Paterson: maintaining a routine

  • 20-30 mins of exercise straight away once I get up, in lieu of my walk to work (which I'm of course not doing now!) I've been doing yoga, using Yoga with Adriene videos, or interval workouts from This helps to set me up for the day and stop me from feeling sluggish first thing. Sometimes I have BBC Breakfast/This Morning on in the background so I can keep up with the news at the same time.
  • Making sure I get dressed every day (even if I do leave the button undone on my jeans for comfort reasons...) So what if I've been switching between the same two jumpers this whole time? It still feels more work appropriate than keeping my pyjamas on!
  • Going for a 30+ minute walk or jog at lunchtime. Again, this stops me from feeling sluggish and perks me up a bit for the afternoon, plus it's usually the warmest part of the day so it's lovely to be outside! I'm usually freezing by this time from sitting still in a room on my own all morning, so the walk definitely helps to warm me back up. Most days I've managed to warm up enough to get down to just wearing a strappy top by mid way through my walk; trying to get as much sun to my skin as possible and keep up that vitamin D!
  • Sticking to my usual working hours of 08:00-16:00 and maintaining a routine (all of the above is stuff I do daily, at roughly the same time.) Having your home and your place of work in the same place can definitely make the lines blur between the two, but you still need to maintain a work/life balance - try to avoid doing too much outside of your usual hours! 
  • In quiet periods I've started doing online training sessions for my professional development. I've signed up for a free month on LinkedIn Learning and I'm refreshing my memory and learning new tips for things like Excel and project management. I can still access CoSy from home too, which is good!
  • I don't think we've switched the radio off in the day for about ten days now... Having music and talking in the background is definitely helping me feel less isolated from everyone and everything. 

In summary, I think I'm just trying to stick as close to my usual work routine as possible. I'm a creature of habit I suppose...

I'm also making more of an effort to pursue my hobbies and improve skills, like sewing, reading and baking, as I feel like I have more time in the day to do so now! Definitely making an effort to stick to eating healthy too. It's so tempting to just have pizza or something every night, or get take out multiple times a week, but I know I'd just feel rubbish for doing that, especially as I'm not able to get out as much!

Lisa Poulton: add structure to your day

Have structure – I have daily reminders set in my phone; even silly things like listening to my favourite band play live on Instagram every evening and doing yoga every day with Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube (not a #Ad). My favourite is the one where I lie on the floor with my eyes closed with a blanket and pillow – it still counts as exercise!

Taking breaks is important and setting goals… so I might say “when I’ve written this Patient Information Sheet (PIS) I can have a snack."

Get some fresh air (even if it’s just opening the window wide and taking some deep breaths and making the neighbours think that you’re strange).

Talk to other human beings… some days you might not feel like being chatty… other days you might want to talk loads but just be mindful that other people probably feel like this also.

Amy Jones: motivational technique 'Pomodoro'

Aside from using the Pomodoro technique, if I find myself mentally drifting off a lot, so I will get up from my desk/dining table and either go get a drink or step into the garden for a minute or two. Just removing myself from my computer and mentally resetting by changing the scenery really helps. As does making sure you have some plants or green things around to make your work space a little nicer, works for me anyway!

I’ve been doing a little morning yoga session before I turn on my laptop and find that is great for my posture, but also helps me to “frame” my day, in the same sort of way that my commute used to. And I have taken to having my one (1) outside exercise per day at lunch if possible, again, I find this really helps me to keep my mind on track a lot more! I also did a home-based trial where I brewed my morning coffee in 5 different ways each day of the week to find which I preferred (espresso machine & Aeropress were the favourites!) This trial is now closed and results were published on Instagram!

  • Difficulties you may have encountered and overcome

The main difficulty is probably working from home with my partner doing the same. He makes a lot of work calls and has been heard on many a SITU Microsoft Teams meeting (sorry everyone!), but the upside is he will take turns making the coffee and bringing it to me – which is an excellent trade off!

  • Status of your trial

SPINOUT closed to recruitment at the end of March, so now both my trials are in follow up and analysis, so its actually helpful to be doing the same follow-up and closeout procedures for both trials at the same time!

tips and advice when working from home with your children

Stephen Jones

Headphones (to listen to 6 Music) are essential when working from home. They offer a consistent level of sound, drowning out the more distracting whooping, shouting, screaming, laughing, fighting noises created by Mathilda (6) and Billy (2).

I make sure I take the kids out every morning for a good walk to tire them out, and then sit down to work next a window, so I can see that life is continuing (at least on a restricted level). People might be financially poorer for the lock down (and we are incredibly fortunate in this regard), but one silver lining is that everybody seems to be exercising once a day, so maybe we'll all be physically fitter.

The only way to get people out and about is to tell them that they have to stay indoors!

Akiko Greshon

  • How to stay motivated whilst working from home

My motivation/drive is to have a cup of coffee/lunch while sunbathing between work - hanks to the lovely weather! I also try to get as much work as possible while my son’s quiet (usually a bad sign though).

  • Difficulties you may have encountered

More housework, more difficult personnel to deal with, more disruption (mentally) and completing school work …. Still ongoing and I haven’t overcome yet! 

  • Fun activity idea

Our challenge for this weekend is to put the empty egg shells (yes no waste!) glued back together so it has a good egg-shape again. We’ll decorate and hide them in our garden…. Before they get broken again!

Molly Glaze: Timetable your days

I work on two studies: STIFF-F and NEON.

STIFF-F has completed recruitment and follow-up. We are now writing the final report to submit to the funders. 

NEON was due to start recruiting patients at the start of April. We have now submitted an amendment to delay recruitment for 4 months, though this may change again.

Working from home reminds me of exam revision. Just like then, I've found the following helpful:

  • Timetabling my days and weeks to add structure and to map out bigger tasks
  • Separating work from time off by working consistent hours and in a different part of the house
  • Getting out the house once a day

Also, I've recently moved house so am grateful that I could buy a desk from the Oxfam superstore before they closed!

Ivy Raymundo: staying connected

  • Difficulties encountered and overcome
  1. When I miss the hustle and bustle of the office, and the company of my (sometimes) delightful colleagues, we schedule catch ups on Microsoft Teams.
  2. Some days in isolation can be a mental struggle. Acknowledge that you’re struggling, give yourself some slack and do something nice for yourself at the end of the working day e.g. bake a cake and eat half of it in one sitting, straight out of the oven…   
  • How to stay motivated whilst working from home
  1. Get dressed! As tempting it is to try and work in loungewear, I personally find it harder to get in the right mind set when I’m wearing Christmas PJ bottoms and a fluffy dressing gown…
  2. If possible, try to create a workspace separate from your living space. Having the differentiation between the two spaces really helps me mentally.
  3. Accept that working from home under lockdown will be different from working in the office, and that your normal routine and habits will likely be affected. Different adjustments will work for different people - make small changes to help boost your concentration and productivity.     
  4. And finally, if (like me) you normally spend a lot of time commuting, try to enjoy and make the most of the extra couple of hours you’ve gained in your day!  
        • Status of your trial

        Due to COVID-19, and its impact on resourcing at our sites, recruitment on the ORiF study has been temporarily halted.

        Naomi Merritt: Working to a deadline

        Advice/ tips on how to stay motivated whilst working from home: Our looming deadlines keep me motivated! Also, treating everyday as a ‘normal’ work-day helps me e.g. getting washed & dressed as if I was going to work and ending the day with (virtual) class at my gym.

        Any techniques you’ve adopted: Microsoft Teams for meetings, calls, chat etc.

        Difficulties you may have encountered and overcome: Case Report Form (CRF) development without access to a decent printer proved tricky. Solution = buy a fancy new printer!

        Status of your trial: PRoCuRe is in work-up ahead of submission for sponsor review.

        Charlotte Drodge: motivation app 'forest'

        I think you need somewhere you won’t be too distracted, so find a quiet section, and I tell my mum and sister what times I have calls so they know to creep around. I’m not working in the living room/my bedroom, because I found it distracted me, even when there wasn’t anything there, I just wasn’t used to working in those rooms. 

        Every morning, write a to-do list of what you’re going to do today and any meetings/deadlines (I usually have a rolling one, but like this it’s a little more forceful). 

        I work well to music, so I found one of those playlists for studying on YouTube and I have that on in the background.

        Similarly to the above distractions, I’ve got an app “Forest” which is almost identical to “Pomodoro”, the app Amy recommended, except I’ve had mine for the last few years.


        NDORMS has also been supporting us through these difficult times by creating a really useful news page filled with advice on 'Looking after your Health and Wellbeing.' More information and advice can also be found on the NDORMS staff intranetThe University of Oxford also have a useful page on 'Homeworking and Wellbeing for staff.'