If you’re trying to adjust to suddenly working from home and finding it difficult, you’re not alone. Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, approximately 7% of U.S. workers “had the option to regularly work from home,” according to research cited in a recent World Economic Forum article. Now, as more and more shelter-in-place orders are enacted or extended depending on location, employees may have to rethink how to go about their workday. In an environment where the line between work and home is becoming increasingly blurred, how can you stay focused and productive and maintain clear boundaries? Here are some of our tips on how to make the best out of working from home.
Establish and maintain a morning routine
You may not be going to the office, but it’s still important to go through a morning routine. For some, that may mean starting the day with exercise; for others, your day may begin with a favorite cup of coffee. The important thing is to try to stick to that routine as much as you can; it’s easy to hit slumps otherwise.
Designate a workspace
If you have a home office, your workspace should be a no-brainer, but it may be easier said than done for those who don’t. You want to try and avoid sitting on your couch while working all day, which is bad for your posture and can affect your mood. You also don’t want your worklife to spill over into other areas of your living space, especially if you’re sharing that space with your partner or your family. If you can, separate one area that’s for work only so that you’re able to walk away from it at the end of your workday. Don’t forget to get up and walk around once an hour - it will help clear your mind.
Speaking of other people…
For those of you who may have found yourself living with your K-12 or college-aged children who are also being affected by the current situation, the best thing to do is to set schedules as much as you can for everyone in the household. Younger children, who are not as likely to adapt to confusion and change easily, will probably benefit the most from this. You may need to write out a schedule so everyone in the house can see it and follow along, while Google recommends blocking off time on a shared calendar with your coworkers so they know when you’re available.
But this time - however strange - is also a great opportunity to reconnect with your loved ones. Maybe that means taking your lunch break together or enjoying a movie night after dinner once a week.
Don’t let video conferencing become the new “this could have been an email”
Communicating - perhaps erring on the side of over communicating - is a good strategy if you’re working with teams and making sure that everyone is doing okay, but not everything needs to be a video chat. While video conferencing can ease the pain of social isolation, you should also be mindful of others’ time constraints and availability as much as you can.
You can also block off time specifically for video conferencing, so that you can make sure you and your team are prepared as much as possible. This might include having a conference when your younger children are taking naps or doing schoolwork or going into a space that is otherwise free from distractions.
You don’t want to throw expectations about the window, but…
This is a strange time for most people. Remind yourself that your productivity may wane but that it’s not an accurate reflection of how you’re spending your time at home. What might have been an eight-hour day at the office may need to be condensed into other chunks of time as you’re adjusting to the new normal.
Leave the office at the “office”
Working from home also presents the opportunity to never shut off from work, because you’re not entering and leaving another physical location to do your daily tasks. Having a designated workspace will help, so you can leave your work things there. It’s important to set up clear boundaries: shut off your electronic work devices at night; don’t check your work email from your phone when you wake up in the morning. Take breaks to refresh - go for a walk, even if it’s just around your neighborhood for 15 minutes.
Do you have any tips to share with us for how you’re managing your work at home? Let us know!