Coronavirus – In the midst of the new Coronavirus pandemic, many companies are implementing voluntary or mandatory work-from-home policies. That means lots of us are dealing with an unusual challenge for an extended period of time: working from home for the first time, full-time. These tips will help you make sure that you’re successful, both at getting your work done and at maintaining your mental well-being:
1. Get Dressed
It is tempting to stay in your pajamas all day, but any day you give into temptation you will much slower to start and less productive overall. You don’t need to dress as formally as you might for work, but the simple act of changing clothes serves as a signal that it’s time to wake up and get things done. Getting dressed also applies to other appearance-based tasks: Take a shower, brush your hair, even put on makeup if that’s what you’d usually do. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean that no one from work will see you. Because in this home office period we’re all about to have a lot of video meetings.
2. Designate a Workspace at home
One of the big challenges when it comes to working remotely is keeping your work and home lives separate. If you never fully disconnect from work, your work productivity will suffer and your home life can take a hit as well. If you’re used to going into an office each day, the separation between work and home is physical, and you want to try to recreate that as much as possible with a designated physical workspace at home. Your workspace doesn’t have to be its own room, it can also be a corner but it should feel as separate from the rest of your home as possible.
3. Keep Clearly Defined Working Hours
Just as you designate and separate your physical workspace, you should be clear about when you’re working and when you’re not. You’ll get your best work done and be most ready to transition back to the office if you stick with your regular hours. Plus, if your role is collaborative, being on the same schedule as your coworkers makes everything much easier. If you live with other people, this separation is even more critical. Communicate with the people you live with to establish boundaries so you can cut down on distractions during the workday.
4. Build Transitions Into Work
Your morning commute not only gets you to work—from one physical location to another—but it also gives your brain time to prepare for work. Just because you’re not traveling doesn’t mean you shouldn’t carve out equivalent routines to help you ease into your workday. Maybe you usually read or listen to music on your commute. You can do that at home. At the other end of the day, do the reverse and wind down from your workday as you would do it in the car or the train when going home.
5. Don’t Get distracted
Distraction is one of the big challenges facing people who work from home—especially people who aren’t used to it. You probably already take a few breaks throughout the day at the office, and that’s fine to do at home, too. Using that time to throw in a load of laundry is OK, but try not to look at your new work arrangement as an opportunity to finally clean out that closet or anything else that takes a lot of sustained focus.
6. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
If you don’t usually work from home, chances are there will be some bumps in the road if you have to suddenly go fully remote. The key to steering through these bumps is communication—especially with your manager and direct reports. Come up with a plan that lays out expectations for how often you should check in and how you’ll convey any changes or new assignments to one another. Do the same with anyone you usually work collaboratively with throughout the day. Avoid only text-based communication, make also usage of phone and video chat.
7. Don’t Forget to Socialize
When the whole office suddenly starts working from home, you’re cutting off a lot of the casual social interactions you’re used to having throughout the day that help you feel less lonely and break up the monotony of work. Combat this by talking with your coworkers throughout the day through WhatsApp, Slack, calls or Skype. If you usually ask your coworkers about their weekends, keep that up. If you’d usually comment to them about a specific topic, reach out. These little interactions go a long way.