Helpful Tips for Working From Home During the Coronavirus Outbreak
Many organizations are making changes to ensure the health and safety of their employees as the novel strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) rapidly spreads, including encouraging or even mandating employees to work from home.
While some may be accustomed to this, it’s a big change for much of America’s workforce. You may have a spot for the occasional day you didn’t go to the office, but how do you really set yourself up for success in a new environment that’s also your home?
Here are some pointers around for how to work from home without losing your mind:
1. Create an “office space”
Designate a specific workspace where you can sit down and focus. It doesn’t have to be a home office, but that’s a good way to think of it. Pick an area where you won’t be easily distracted and can rest your laptop on a hard surface in front of you (instead of in your lap).
2. Dress for success
Make it a point to get out of your pajamas. Doing so has a marked effect on productivity and mental processes. The psychological benefits of what you wear can influence what you think and how you feel.
3. Make a schedule and stick to it
When your home becomes your office, it can be harder to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Whether sleeping in becomes more tempting, household chores distracting, or working into late hours of the night — creating some structure in your day can help you stay on track and be as productive as you are in the office.
4. Set clear boundaries
If you have family members or live with people who aren’t used to you working from home, it can be helpful to set “business hours” with them to let them know you’re unavailable between those times unless an emergency comes up, as is the case when you’re in the office.
5. Don’t isolate yourself
Without physically sitting next to your team and running into co-workers around the office, working from home can get lonely. Keep the watercooler talk going via Slack or whatever internal messaging tool your company uses. See a meme you would’ve shown your desk neighbor to explain your sudden burst of uncontrollable laugher? Send it to them anyways! Remind people you’re still around and can still keep each other company virtually.
6. Record & transcribe meetings
With meetings taking place virtually via phone or video conferencing, it can be harder to keep track of who’s saying what and ensure everyone’s aligned on the next steps. To keep things moving efficiently, record meetings and distribute a transcript of the meeting to participants after. These can even be shared with leadership or anyone who wasn’t able to join but needs to be up to speed on what was discussed.
7. Take breaks
It’s important to step away and take breaks. These happen more naturally in an office setting, when a conversation may come up in the break room or hallway. However, when working at home, it can be easy to forget to step away for a few minutes. Take a walk outside to get fresh air, or do some stretches.
There are more opportunities to walk around in an office (i.e., to meetings, to get lunch, etc.). Remember to move around throughout the day. You can:
- Set a timer to remind yourself to get up and walk around.
- Walk around your house when having phone conversations that you don’t need to be in front of your computer for.
- Do stretches, yoga, crunches, or whatever low-intensity exercises suit you during breaks.
- If you have a dog, take them for a 15-minute walk.