The last couple of months has seen the Coronavirus or COVID-19 disrupt our lives and force us to make many changes. Social distancing, a deliberate way to increase the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness, has caused many businesses to allow their employees to work from home.
While many are actually enjoying some of the advantages of working from home full time, the short commute being an example, there are still some difficulties in the transition from work office to home office. From being able to separate work from personal time, to having the right space to conduct business, here are some tips to help while you are working remotely.
Make Clear Work Time and Personal Time
When working remotely your time off can become blurred with the time you should be working. It is very easy to find yourself taking time to do normal things around the house like taking a break to wash the dishes or take out the trash. With a majority of your family also home at this time, you might even be tempted to watch a movie or do another activity with everyone else.
It is important from the start to create real boundaries. Stick to the schedule you always have when you are at work. During your normal breaks and lunch it is perfectly fine to spend time doing your normal home actives, but maintaining that work schedule is very important. When it is time to end the day walk away from your computer or laptop and find something fun or relaxing to do, it will help end the day in a positive note.
Find a Dedicated Work Space
Everyone has a different amount of space available to them in their home, so for some this may not be as easy. If you are lucky enough to have a home office already prepared that is great, if you do not but have an extra room that is used for other activities this can be a great place to call your work space. Even if it is just a portion of your dining room table, it is important to get into the routine of getting out of bed and walking to your work space.
Here are some of the basic things you need to setup to work from home
- Good lighting
- A comfortable chair
- Stable internet connection
- An environment with as few distractions as possible
- A good laptop or desktop (while now days you can do a lot from mobile devices, this is not recommended when doing high level work, you can easily find yourself doing all the fun things you usually do on your phone or tablet.)
This will help create that important boundary we discussed between personal and business time. If you do live with others, letting them know once you are in your work area that you are unavailable will help everyone during this time of transition.
Also do not hesitate to ask for what you need. Your company has made the decision to keep you working but from home. While this has forced you to make some changes it is still a good thing because many companies are closing their doors during this crisis. If you’re employed by a company or organization that supports your work-from-home setup, request the equipment you need as soon as you start working from home, or within a day or two when you realize you need something new.
Socialize With Your Business Colleagues
Yes at the office you may have found it annoying to have to talk to your co-workers about their opinion on sports, movies, or music. Now you are going to crave that human interaction. Loneliness, disconnect, and isolation are common problems in remote work life, especially for extroverts. Using tools like Zoom and Skype can be great to have face to face interactions with work associates. Many who are working from home for the first time live alone, and these moments can be very important to get through the day.
Email is something many companies live or die by when it comes to communicating. Using a tool such as Slack, a business messaging app, allows for people to communicate in a real way while staying focused on business. With your company’s permission you can even create channels for general conversation. Even if you’re highly introverted and don’t like socializing, give a few interactive experiences a try so that you’re familiar with them.
Do Not Stop Your Daily Self-Care Rituals
While this tip may seem simple, it is very easy to get into the habit of not taking care of yourself. While personal hygiene such as showering and brushing your teeth are obvious, other self-care items can be easily ignored. Making sure you keep the routines you normally do become very important as you find yourself cooped up in your home day after day.
While barber shops and beauty salons are closed, keeping your hair looking nice is still important. If you are a man you should continue shaving or trimming your beard and your mustache. For women your normal beauty routines will help you remain positive. Do home workouts, even simple ones to keep your body and mind alert. Continue your hobbies, and even use the time you save from no longer having that long commute to find a new one.
Even still dressing the part for work do a lot for your mental health while in this new situation. There is nothing wrong with dressing comfortably while at home, but finding something that feels and looks good can go a long way.
Many of us will enjoy the simplicity that working from home will bring. For others the change in their normal routine can and will be difficult. The fact that the majority of us that are now working remotely were thrust into this during a strange and confusing time does not help. Just remember you are not alone in this transition, millions of Americans are experiencing the same thing.
Being intentional on how you work from home will make a huge difference. These tips we have provided are a great start. If you have any tips on working remotely that have helped share with us in the comments below.