Right now, most Americans are working from home due to Covid-19 and mandated quarantines. Fortunately our technology allows for most people to adopt to work-from-home set-ups. Computers, laptops, iPhones and scanners are abundant and easy to use, along with a strong WiFi signal, which is also prevalent across the country.
Post-Covid, the conversation has already started: will “work-from-home” become the norm for more and more Americans or will employees wish to resume working in the office for in person interactions. Many people relish the extra time they gain from cutting their commute from their homes to their offices, to their bedrooms to home offices.
However in order to be productive while working from home, certain protocols need to be in place: routines matter!
A quick search on work from home tips and advice yields thousands of articles. Here are some consistent principals to abide by for a sane and productive work-from-home experience:
Just like starting the day with a good breakfast, starting your work-from-home day by getting dressed is equally important. While it is tempting to stay in your pajamas, temptations are what slow you down. Putting on clothes is symbolic of getting things done and makes you feel confident. You don’t need to dress for a new business meeting, however you can still don socks and shoes, adding a pep to your home step. Dressing also means taking a shower, brushing your hair and looking suitable for the litany of zoom meetings.
Set up a Home Office or Workplace Area
The best advice is keep your home and at-home work places separate. If you do not have a separate home office, create one. If can be a nook in your living area, bedroom or spare room. Regardless of where you set up, go there for work and work only. It is important to keep the designated areas separate. Make sure to decorate appropriately—from family photos to other office like amenities. Most importantly, set your station up with a comfortable chair. If you don’t have one, it’s worth the investment to buy one.
Keep a schedule
We all fall into the trap of being on 24/7: our devices have afforded us that luxury and curse. While working from home, try to maintain a work schedule and when your day is done, turn off the office lights. Of course there are exceptions, so don’t let it stress you out. For the most part, try to keep office hours, take a break for lunch and turn off in the evenings. It provides both distance, sanity and a fresh perspective in the morning. If you live with others, it is even more important to keep separate hours. It is simply polite!
Communication is key
Strong communication skills—whether you are working in an office, socializing with clients or at the school fair—are important in general. When you work from home the stakes are even higher. The short solution? Over communicate. Regularly share information via phone or email with your colleagues. Don’t hesitate to call clients when you have something to say. Don’t wait to speak with them on a weekly call or monthly meeting. Over communicate. This is to time to be the squeaky wheel when it comes to interacting and staying in touch with your manager, colleagues and clients. Communications is key—do it often.
In the Covid-19 era it is easy to get distracted and sidelined by the news. You want to keep up with the latest statistics, advice, preventative measures and more. Do not get pulled into a rabbit hole with the news or any other topic for that matter. Designate a time to catch up on the news and make sure that time does not take away from your work day or responsibilities. It can serve as a lunchtime break or short morning walk, but that’s it. Unless of course you want to do some online shopping. Then you can go to your favorite sock shop and treat yourself to a nice fresh pair of socks for the summer.
Here are a few more tips to remember:
Set ground rules with people in your space: This includes family members or roommates, in order to maintain privacy and boundaries while working
Schedule breaks and take them in their entirety: Whether it is coffee, lunch or short exercise routine, do it.
Don’t be afraid to ask for when you need: If your computer connect is not strong, or you need a certain connection for better mobile access, ask for it.
Show up to meetings and be present: When you are on Zoom, Webex or a conference call, turn off all other devices, and devote your full attention to the meeting at hand.
Take advantage of your perks: Working from home means no commute time. Take advantage of that time by exercising, baking bread or delivering food to a homeless shelter. Whatever makes you feel good-the time is yours. Use it or lose it!
End your day with a routine: Just like you start your day with a routine, create a habit that signals the end of your work day—and turn of the computer.