I know this is a difficult and uncertain time for landlords. It’s not easy to find positives. But I’m trying hard to bring you some here! In this series of blog posts I’m going to offer you some useful and potentially valuable ideas and information to make the very most of your time right now.
In this first post I’ll look at some ways you can pull out some positives from staying in and working from home during the Coronavirus pandemic. Whether you’re normally in an office, out and about, or a seasoned homeworker I’m sure you’ll find something interesting and useful here.
Think health first
Health is something that some of us overlook, but the current crisis has brought it right back into focus. Maintaining good health now will help you stay positive and set you up for the future. And staying healthy yourself is one of the best ways to help those around you stay healthy too.
Start with your physical health. If you’re one of those who’s already out walking, running or cycling keep up the good work .... and keep up the social distancing too of course. If you’re new to exercise the NHS have a useful guide to getting started with exercise for everyone, whatever their age.
If you’re staying home here’s a simple exercise programme you can try without any equipment and even in the smallest space indoors.
Mental health is just as important. But remember that physical health helps your mental health too. Take a look at the NHS Apps Library where you can find apps and online tools to help you manage your health and wellbeing. Many of them are free.
One of the best ways of supporting your mental health is to stay in touch with other people and just talking. It’s a win-win situation. Because, in helping yourself, you’ll be helping them as well. Calls, texts and emails are good for staying in touch (or try a good old letter or card) but video calls are the new big thing right now .... more about this coming up.
And here’s a great resource which I think you’ll find really useful: Covaid-19 Mutual Aid UK can link you up to a local group in your area with people who can offer support and practical help in the current situation. There are thousands of groups already. You can also add your own group or volunteer to help others.
Making the most of working from home
No commuting! No traffic jams! Working from home seems like a dream come true at first. But (as you might have found by now) it’s not always as good as it seems!
Here are some thoughts on making homeworking work better:
Be realistic about what you can achieve. When you work from home there are other demands on your time, such as family and domestic chores. So try not to expect to immediately achieve as much as you would at work. That way, you can achieve your goals and feel good about your homeworking.
Find a place that’s convenient and comfortable for home working. A separate room is ideal but if you don’t have one at least have a dedicated space. Now could be a good time to set up that home office you’ve always planned too.
Set a routine .... and stick to it. One of the big advantages of homeworking is that you’re freed from the chains of 9-5 (or whatever) working. But it’s still sensible to set your own routine. Play to your strengths here: Start early if you're a morning person, work late if you're a night owl.
If you’re juggling many different roles – like landlord, business owner, parent, home tutor and chief cook and bottle washer – set a routine that dedicates time for each of those roles.
Co-ordinate your routine with other members of your household where you can. This is especially important if you have children at home.
Create a schedule. Cozi is great a family organiser app. With Cozi you can create a family calendar and even send it to the kids!
Take advantage of new, better ways of working
One positive of the current situation is that it has brought exciting, new ways of working to the fore. And not only that, but encouraged lots and lots of people to start using them.
Many of these new ways of working can save you time, money and make you more efficient. Now is a very good time to try them out.
Video calling and video conferencing are tools that are really coming into their own at the moment. They’re easy and cheap and a great way of communicating that’s better than a voice call or email. You can video call business contacts and suppliers and there’s even bigger potential for the future. For example, think how much time you could save by screening new prospective tenants by video.
You can keep your social life going by video calling family and friends too.
Here are some tools I recommend you take a look at:
WhatsApp. Many people already use the WhatsApp messaging and calling app. But you might not realise you can set up a group video call with up to four people. You can also use WhatsApp on a desktop or laptop not just a phone.
Zoom has more features for chat, professional conferencing and collaboration. Basic Zoom is free here.
Jitsi is not quite so glitzy as Zoom. But it’s completely free and unlimited in the number of people and time you can call. Here’s Jitsi.
For family, friends and social video chatting Houseparty is the one to go for.
Keep in touch .... stay informed .... my useful contacts of the week
Working from home can literally be isolating .... but not in a good way. So my final tip for better homeworking is to try to keep in touch and stay informed with reliable sources of information on the Coronavirus pandemic.
Here are two of my favourite ‘most useful’ sites at the moment: The official Gov.uk site which explains Government support available for landlords and renters reflecting the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Also Lettingaproperty.com’s Coronavirus: Latest Landlord & Tenant Facts and Information page.
Every local authority in the UK has a dedicated Coronavirus help page at the moment. Go here, tap in your postcode, and you’ll get a link to their site. It will give you information on all the help they can offer you with local services, employment, your business and the financial help that’s currently available.
I hope you find these tips useful and that they’ll help you make the very best of staying in and working from home. Look out for bulletin number two coming up in a few days time.