WORKING from home looks set to be the new norm - for the next three months at least, if Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to be heeded.

Here, two established home workers, a successful author about to see the publication of the fifth book in her detective series, and the owner of a marketing and public relations business, share their tips for those who may be struggling to adapt.

Julia Chapman, who lives near Settle, is the author of the Dales Detective novels, set in the fictional Dales town of Bruncliffe. Date with Danger, the fifth and latest in the series, is due to be published on April 2.

Julia often starts her working day with a run, and is keen to point out how important it is get out of the house at some point, to establish a routine, and not spend the whole day in pyjamas.

“Having worked with the public most of my life, becoming a full time author wasn’t just a matter of adjusting to a new career. It also meant adjusting to a new working environment,” said Julia.

“No water cooler, no colleagues and no boss. For some it sounds perfect. But it does require a lot of self-discipline.

“Routine is my key. I’m at my desk by nine most mornings, sometimes even earlier. And not in my pyjamas. I focus on my writing first thing, ignoring emails and administration as much as possible until I’ve got the creative side of my work done for the day.”

Keeping home life separate can also be a problem, she says.

“If possible, set up your home office in a space where you can close the door so that your work doesn’t slip into those hours when you should be relaxing with your family.

“Even in these unusual circumstances, try to get out of the house every day. Go for a walk and say hello to everyone you meet. They might be the only people you interact with that day.”

Finally, she says, be wary of the perils of social media.

“There’s many an author who contributes more words per day on Twitter than on their work in progress. By all means use it for social interaction but don’t get sucked in or before you know it, the front door is opening and the rest of the household are coming home and you haven’t got anything done.”

Jane Ellison-Bates has worked from home for 30 years, the last 20 of which at the helm of her marketing and public relations agency, Manifest Marketing in Appletreewick. Her clients include businesses of all shapes and sizes, and several organisations.

“While working from home is often perceived as an easy ride, with COVID19 suddenly thrusting countless employees away from the comfort zone of an office environment with colleagues on hand, some are finding the prospect a little daunting,” she said.

“Routine is paramount. If you’re soft on yourself then a full-time job can easily degenerate into a part-time job which no employee is going to fail to notice.

“While home working offers fantastic flexibility for time management – in my case the demands of a pony and a dog – it is vitally important to try to work set hours and not allow leisure-time and work-time to merge into a mish-mash.

“The danger is that you reach the end of normal working-hours and then feel assuaged with guilt about the time you’ve taken out, so that in turn you can end up robbing yourself of proper relaxation time in an effort to compensate. Remember too that customers and colleagues are likely to want to communicate with you during ‘normal’ working hours and may not wish to be bombarded with a flurry of emails from you at midnight.”

Working space is important, and like Julia, she recommends allocating a particular place, away from the social hub of the home.

“A spare bedroom may need a bit of re-shuffling to suit but will be far better in the long run than trying to make-do at the kitchen or dining table, and psychologically this separate space allows you to feel you are ‘going to work’ and ‘finishing work’ even if that only means a ten-step commute. “

Those suddenly removed from their usual office may want to consider taking the chair and desk home with them, if they have the space, and to avoid back issues, suggests Jane.

“ Don’t attempt to produce serious work long-term from the sofa or perched on a kitchen chair.,” she said.

And, It is important to take proper breaks during the course of the day.

“Be careful not to allow yourself to sit for hours concentrating on work and getting stiff because you suddenly find that working without colleagues around is making you super productive - but not so fit.

“ I find my Fitbit is a useful tool to ensure I’m not being too sedentary. Remember your body will be missing the walk to work or from your car to the office and up the office stairs.

“You need to move around and deliberately ‘leave the office’, and don’t fall into the trap of having your coffee breaks or lunch at your desk just because there’s no one to chat to round the kettle or in a staff canteen.

“ You still need that break. If it’s fine, go outside to drink your brew and get some vitamin D at the same time. Maybe you might multi-task a bit while the kettle is boiling, to hang some washing perhaps. Pets are likely to be glad of some attention.”

Jane also warns against dressing too casually - “ I have never been able to cope with the idea of chatting to a client on the phone in my dressing gown” also warns against becoming isolated, suggesting people link it to business networks.

Finally, she says people might find they like homeworking.

“Although COVID19 has rather forced the issue, working from home is on the increase and is an attractive proposition for some businesses. While some companies may have been deterred by the logistical switch, this may facilitate a transition and prove to be a positive outcome for both employers and employees. Every cloud has a silver lining.”