Normally, an article about remote work would list all the benefits of working from home. These would typically include avoiding the commute to work and being more productive. However, right about now, a commute outside the house might sound really nice, and the productivity might be at an all-time low with kids and pets running around the house.
In our current situation, the main benefit of working from home is that it helps prevent the spread of germs. So not only are you suddenly working from home, but you’re working from home in its most extreme state: unprepared and isolated.
We have some tips about working from home in these new conditions.
1. Maintain Your Routine
We’re sure you’ve heard this one over and over again, but having a routine is essential to your overall well-being and productivity. Make sure to maintain some kind of routine as if you were heading to the office. Set an alarm, take a shower, get dressed, sip your coffee, etc. By all means, set your alarm later than usual, but make sure you have some semblance of a routine before starting your workday.
If you find that you can’t get in the working headspace, consider going for a walk before work or listening to an inspiring podcast or calling your mom. Having a routine lets your brain know it is getting ready to work.
2. Create a Distinct Workspace
Not every home can suddenly accommodate one or two people working from home, but it is important to carve out an area for yourself - even if that area is tiny. After a few days of working from the couch, your body is going to be sore and your mind is not going to know where work ends and relaxation begins.
Move your nightstand to a corner of the room, use your balcony, repurpose some storage space or do whatever you need to do. Ideally, you should be able to close a door for two reasons: making important phone calls in private and being able to walk away from your work at the end of the day.
3. Structure Your Kid’s Day
Kids work well with schedules. If they didn’t have to be at home right now, they would be at school following a timetable. Designate time for schoolwork, activities, and quiet time. If they know they can’t disturb you between certain hours, then you’re more likely not to be disturbed.
For those with kids that are not on a schedule, don’t worry too much about them making appearances in video calls or in the background of audio calls. Everyone is doing the best they can in this very strange situation, so don’t apologize for it!
It’s easy to drop by someone’s office or to ask a quick question during a lunch break. It’s not so easy to call someone up every time you need clarification. However, communication is going to help everyone get through this. You need to communicate with your boss and your colleagues to get the right work done and stay visible as an employee. If you find it hard to track down people, perhaps suggest a daily check-in at a specific time. Our digital team has set up 3 group check in times; 9am (perfect time to say good morning and set the tone for the day), noon, and 3pm.
5. Stay Social
There is a lot of socialization that goes on in an office, even if you might not have realized it was happening. While you’re remote working, make sure you don’t only talk to people about work. Ask your colleagues about their lives and share how you are doing (you might even need to send a virtual birthday card!). Participate in as much face-to-face video interaction as possible instead of just sending emails. Check-in with the people you usually work with so that it isn’t just shop talk all the time. Even if you’re surrounded by family, some of the people you work with might live alone and might be in need of some friendly non-work conversations.
6. Don’t Overwork
Set boundaries about when you are going to work. Ideally, you’d log off at the same time you would leave the office. Realistically, your day has probably been interrupted more than usual. Catching up on work after regular working hours is totally fine, as long as you make sure you aren’t overworking.
Schedule time to have lunch and dinner, throw in some coffee breaks, a fresh air break (even if it is just standing on your balcony or next to your open window), and some time for fun. There are other ways to pass the time than just work!
A few items to help you work from home: