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The streets are empty, offices are closed, and your favorite bar around the corner is shut down until… well, we don’t know when. COVID-19 has taken us all by surprise and companies are implementing work-from-home policies at a rapid pace.
Working from home can, at times, feel like a prison. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you have video conferencing and it isn’t overloaded (just yet.) Some of us are used to working from home or were already remote before the pandemic – others are working from home for the first time and have never experienced this lack of social interaction before.
Here are a few work-from-home tips to consider:
1) Stick to your schedule.
It’s tempting when you first start working from home to sleep-in late. Don’t! Stick to your normal routine. If you normally go into the office from 9 am to 5 pm, be at your computer/iPad/phone/whatever from 9 am to 5 pm. Your body gets used to these habits and it’s important to still have some boundaries between your work life and home life.
2) Create a workspace.
It feels like I’ve heard every sort of work-from-home space idea there is. Working from the bathtub has to be the most interesting, and equally the most concerning. The same way that our minds get used to a work schedule, we get used to a workspace. If we do work in our bed, our minds may struggle to leave work at “work” when we’re trying to sleep. If we do work on our couch, distractions to turn the tv on for a minute or rest your eyes can become consistent habits. Clear space on your kitchen table or make a standing desk out of your counter, anything to create a secondary location that you can use just for work.
3) Communicate with your team (well).
If you’ve never worked from home, you likely had the ability to walk down the hall or simply turn your head to ask a question. I saw the message “I wonder how many meetings become emails now” all over social media last week. Utilize all of your tools, not just email. If your company has Microsoft Teams/Slack for messaging, use it to stay in touch and send your updates. If you have video conferencing, have your meeting with the cameras on just to have that in-person feeling.
For those that work from home, it’s important to communicate not only with your coworkers, but your boss as well. Let them know what you’re working on and how you’re utilizing your time. If your boss has never worked from home either, they may be concerned that your work could suffer. Keep them informed with how your progress is and what you need from them, just like you should be doing in your office.
4) Take care of your appearance.
Growing up I played hockey and every gameday we would dress up and say “look good, feel good, play good.” We didn’t always win, but there’s something about feeling your best that puts you in the right frame of mind. I don’t mean to say you should dress in a suit to work from your home office, but at least come presentable to your “office.” If you’re doing a video call, opening your email, or just sitting at your desk you want to set yourself up for success. Prepare for your day just like you would any other day.
5) Take breaks.
When you work in an office, breaks are built into your day whether we know it or not. My good/bad habit when working from home is that when I sit down at my desk, I don’t get up for hours at a time. I’m glued to my screen with no distractions. At work, you get up to grab a drink and have a conversation with your deskmate on the way. Maybe you’re in a “cool office” and your office plays a game of ping pong once a day. Whatever your “break” is in the office, you need one when working from your home office too.
Try walking to get your mail, go outside for five minutes and just breathe in the fresh air, or really anything else that gets you up from your chair (or if you’re lucky away from your standing desk). It doesn’t (and shouldn’t) be long, but make sure you still are moving some.
Hopefully these 5 tips help you become a work-from-home work pro during this COVID-19 pandemic. Stay safe and be sure to keep checking the CDC’s guidelines, found here.
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