The outbreak of the coronavirus has most people working from home. If you are new to working remotely, these tips can help you stay productive and maintain balance.
The global spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, is keeping people at home. Much of the world is on lockdown. Where possible, employers are encouraging or requiring people to work from home for an indefinite amount of time. In a matter of days, we have been thrown into the largest work-from-home experiment in history!
If you’re new to the work-from-home lifestyle, whether due to the coronavirus or because you have managed to find a remote-based job, you’ll need to change some of your habits and routines to make working from home a success.
But do you know what is exciting? Disruption is an opportunity for innovation. Human beings are incredibly adaptable, and we have wonderful technology and tools on our hands to figure this out.
It is critical that you keep motivated and get as much out of your time as you would in an office setting.
To help, here are five tips to keep yourself accountable, collaborative, and productive as you work from home.
- Create a Routine
No one really knows how long the coronavirus lockdown will last. For now, you need to think of this as your ‘new normal’ and get into a regular routine.
Wake up at your normal time, shower, and get dressed in real clothes (not pajamas!). It may sound trivial, but this helps you mentally prepare for the day ahead and get into the “I’m going to work” mindset. That does not mean your entire day has to be work only (it’s actually important to take regular breaks to prevent burnout), just that any nonwork activities also need to be scheduled.
Consider the other commitments in your life and find a routine that lets you take care of those as well. If you have a child, build their care into your schedule. If you play sports or volunteer, schedule time to get work done before or after these activities.
2. Set clear boundaries with your family, roommates and friends.
Unless you live alone, you are sharing your home and your office with other people. Make sure the people around you understand your schedule and respect it. Set boundaries and expectations by letting them know that working remotely does not mean that you are free all the time.
If you live with other adults, then you should be able to set clear boundaries in just one or two conversations. But if have kids they will test the boundary, so you need to be prepared to enforce it.
Most schools have moved to online classes, and suddenly, you have found yourself in a position of having to homeschool and get your own job done! If you are married, work with your spouse to help manage the kids and their workload.
3. Create a workspace.
Although it is tempting to stay in bed or head to your couch, having a space for your home office will help you stay focused and get into work mode. If you don’t have a desk, use your dining room table. Take care of yourself by paying attention to your posture and taking breaks to stretch and walk around.
Creating a workspace not only makes you feel like you are at an “office,” it also helps you maintain good posture, avoid distractions, and leave your work behind at the end of the day.
4. Step up the communication.
Working from home might seem like a solo experience, but it still involves interacting with others, whether it is meeting with your team, getting assignments, making decisions, or giving and receiving feedback. It is important to set up methods for collaboration while you work remotely. You must pay attention to emails (i.e. read the entire thing!)
Videoconferencing via Zoom is also a great way of having regular check-ins with your team. This can help you stay abreast of what others are doing, and also help everyone keep up a rapport that might otherwise go neglected from not sharing a workplace.
5. Take breaks and have some Fun!
Take a lunch break and have a meal with family, connect with a close friend or family member, step outside for some air or play with your dog, exercise, or read a book. Take on that hobby you have been wanting to try
When you work remotely, it is easy to blur the lines between life and work. Some people tend to work extra-long hours, and others might be tempted to slack off. Neither extreme is healthy. By scheduling breaks throughout your day, you give yourself something to look forward to (so you can stay focused and work hard now) or force yourself to slow down and rest.
Working from home allows you to develop self-discipline and perseverance. Let us rise to the challenge of remote work during this season of Covid-19. If we do this right, we will come out on the other side more adaptable, more efficient, and more creative.
What have been some of the challenges you have faced with remote working and how have you managed to stay productive?