During this unprecedented time, many workers have been pushed to work from home. If you are one of these newly remote workers you may find that, although it is wonderful to be able to continue to work, working from home can provide its own set of distractions, issues, and complications. Check out these tips that might help to ease the transition.
Stick to a Routine
One of the easiest ways to keep yourself in work mode is to keep up with the parts of your routine that you are still able to. Set a schedule for yourself. Wake up at the same time each day and get ready the same way you would if you were going to head to the office, meaning you should shower, get dressed in real clothes, and brush your teeth. Start working at the same time each day and utilize to do lists and scheduled time blocks to ensure you stay focused on top priority tasks. Take a lunch break as you usually would. And be sure to end your day at the same time each day to keep your work life separate from your home life as much as possible. While it will be a different routine than normal, sticking to a routine can help you feel as though you are still at work.
Create a Devoted Office Space
Setting up a devoted office space allows you to create a workspace that contains everything you need and minimizes distractions. It is also important to set up your workspace in a way that mimics a true office setup. Even though the couch or bed may be comfortable, Colorado State University (CSU) points out that “using an improper workstation setup for an extended duration can cause awkward posture which can increase the risk for ergonomic related injuries.” CSU suggests following the tips below to create an ergonomically friendly workspace:
- Use a good chair (add pillows for back/leg support, if necessary)
- Raise your chair to the proper level for your desk or table (use a pillow as a seat cushion, if necessary)
- Support your feet if they don’t firmly touch the ground while sitting
- Raise your monitor to meet your eye level
- Use an external keyboard and mouse to keep keyboard/mouse and monitor at appropriate levels
Get Your Technology in Order
Ensure that you have all the technology you need to work from home, both hardware and software. Ensure you have your laptop along with the charger and any accessories you might need, such as your external mouse or keyboard. Also upload any software you might need to utilize while working from home. This can include VPN access to company files, phone system applications, video conference call applications, or any other software particular to your field. Lastly, ensure that you have a reliable internet connection at home with appropriate bandwidth and WIFI capabilities. When you have the proper equipment, working from home will be a lot less stressful.
Give yourself breaks. Take a few minutes every hour to get up, stretch and walk around. Take breaks for snacks and lunch away from your computer. And, if at all possible, take at least one break outdoors. Get a little exercise by taking a walk in the sunshine, sit on your porch while you eat lunch, or simply have your coffee outside in the morning. Giving yourself a few minutes away from your computer on a regular basis can help you stay focused better throughout the day – and the great news is that this applies at home and at the office so it is a good habit to get into no matter where you work.
Use the tools that you have, whether that be email, phone, video chat software or any other tools to communicate. Check in with your team and other coworkers often and use the time to chat socially as you would in the office and to check in on work tasks and projects. Being able to have conversations on a regular basis can help you feel less isolated and lonely and can help to keep everyone focused on the work that can be done under these circumstances.
If You Have Kids at Home with You
A very unique challenge in the current situation is that many parents find themselves working from home while their kids are home, as well. Working with children in your home, especially younger children, can be a challenge. A few ways to help alleviate this distraction are listed below:
- Remember to be flexible as you try to balance childcare and work
- Let them sleep in in the morning and during naps (if it doesn’t interfere with them going to sleep at bedtime)
- Create learning and activity plans
- Have rewards ready (e.g. games, treats, toys, etc.)
- Stock up on puzzles, books, and other independent activities
- If possible, allow them to socialize virtually with friends or classmates using video chat applications
- Let them have a little extra screen time (Common Sense Media has good recommendations for kid-appropriate content)