While working from home has become more popular and widely accepted over the last decade, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has turned it into a common practice overnight. If you don’t typically work from home and circumstances now require you to set up command central at the kitchen table rather than your cubicle, the transition can take a little getting used to.
Here are some tips we’ve gathered from our partners and clients who work from home on a regular basis and may help keep you productive while self-isolating or simply working at home due to the current work landscape.
- Find a quiet spot, ideally in a room with a door that you can close if you need to. If possible, create a workspace that’s outside of your bedroom.
- If you have kids at home, explain ahead of time when you’ll be “at work” and for how long. Set them up with activities to keep them occupied until you can take a break.
- Set regular “work hours” for yourself and stick to a regular work schedule as much as possible.
- Stick to a routine on your regular work days. Avoid sleeping in or treating the day like a non-work day. Take a shower, get dressed, have breakfast, exercise… do whatever it is you typically do to get ready for work outside of the house.
- Use headphones for phone calls to make it easier to hear and focus on your conversation. If you have noise in the background, some people find listening to classical or instrumental music on their headphones helps.
- Take regular breaks. Ensure you get up out of your chair periodically to move around or change your work position from sitting to standing, if possible.
- Connect with your co-workers. When we work from home, we lose those spontaneous, unscheduled “water cooler” conversations or chats in the hallway. Programs like Skype, Slack, MicroSoft Teams, WhatsApp, and Zoom can help keep you connected to colleagues throughout the day outside of regularly scheduled meetings. Check out this article by CNN Business with tips for video conferencing from home.
- Get outside for some fresh air and exercise. Even if it’s cold out, a brisk 15-minute walk will do wonders for your physical and mental health, and help you stay focused when you’re back at your desk.
- Avoid taking personal calls during your scheduled work time. It can be challenging for friends and family to understand it’s still a regular work day for you, even if you’re doing it from home. Limit personal calls, texting and emails to your “breaks” and after you’re finished work for the day so that they don’t interrupt your train of thought and work flow.
- When you’re done for the day, shut it down. Working from home makes “work” very accessible. It’s easy for that one little task after dinner to morph into an hour or two of unscheduled work that eats into your R&R time. When you’ve put in your time, close your work programs, turn off the computer or close the office door…you’re done for the day!
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