Thanks to COVID-19, we’re all settling into a somewhat unsettling new normal. Fortunately, a lot of us are doing so from the comfort of our own homes.
As stronger “social distancing” and “shelter-in-place” recommendations from health experts come down the pipeline, more and more people are being asked to work remotely. And it’s given a whole new meaning to “work-life balance.”
Without a clear delineation between your personal and professional spheres, your productivity – and your sanity – are at stake. We hate to burst your bubble, but working from home isn’t all sleeping through your normal commute, never missing a delivery and enjoying copious pet snuggles. Ok, it’s definitely some of that too, but it’s only one piece of the pie.
Working from home requires an allegiance to boundaries (and snacks – naturally). Do it long enough and you’re bound to feel the dull ache of loneliness, the constant pangs of distraction or both.
All that said, get yourself set up for success and the time you spend telecommuting could be your most productive yet.
With all these Zoom meetings, headsets are flying off the shelves like toilet paper! Too soon? In all seriousness, ask any seasoned remote worker – a dedicated workspace is a must. The supplies needed to set up a fully functional home office will depend on the kind of work you do. However, most employees find a few productivity boosting accessories extremely helpful. Think extra monitors, desktop docking options, ergonomic accessories like a wireless mouse and keyboard and yes, business headsets. Still too soon?
Employers and procurement departments should consider getting a “work from home kit” to their staff to keep up production. Self employed? You may be on your own, but work from home tools are a great productivity investment and can be used long after the pandemic passes.
Sound counterproductive? Hear us out. We know what all work and no play can do to a person. Humans are built for social interaction – even if your employer usually frowns at too much water cooler chat. Without the ability to directly interact with people, it’s critical you make time to Skype, FaceTime or even phone colleagues and loved ones. One idea? Set up virtual coffee chats with coworkers to start out your week. We’re so fortunate to have the tools to connect – especially in times of uncertainty. Take advantage.
Not only is sitting the new smoking, but nature is a huge productivity booster. Studies show that taking a short walk outside has a positive impact on your concentration, memory and creativity. So make some time each day to stretch, move and get some fresh air. Because you’ll never get in your recommended 10,000 steps a day just going from kitchen to couch.
We get it. Part of the joys of working from home is the ability to shamelessly parade around in PJs. But you still want to dress for success – even if the only one who sees you is your cat. Making the switch each morning is essential for helping you transition from sleep mode to work mode. When in doubt, remember the three Fs: fresh clothes, fresh face and fresh breath, every day. While you’re at it, find a fun (or at least clean!) background that won’t distract in case you do get that surprise video call from your boss.
And, hey, if business casual eventually becomes a work from home mullet (business on top, sweat pants party on bottom), at least you made an effort
Quitting time may be the biggest boundary of all. Simply put: Log off when the day is done, and treat WFH hours like normal business hours. This may mean silencing your chats, turning off email notifications, or putting your laptop in a time lock safe until morning. We joke, but for your well-being give yourself some time to decompress after work and take your stated office hours seriously.
Don’t get it twisted. Working from home is absolutely a luxury; a luxury many in our communities don’t have. For essential businesses like hospitals and grocers, it’s business as usual (read: frontline exposure). Too many others are staring down the bread line – a heartbreaking reminder of how lucky teleworkers are. Your telecommuting days will eventually be numbered. But these tips will help you stay focused and balanced, no matter how long we’re weathering the storm.