Have You Been Asked to Work from Home?
Over the last week, Nashvillians have had to do a lot of adjusting. As we piece together roofless homes and wait for NES to restore power post-tornado, we’ve also received word of school closures and federally recommended quarantines. As coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, spreads throughout the country, many employers have asked their staff to work from home. If you’re worried about how to be effective from a remote location, never fear – we’ve put together your guide to work-from-home productivity.
Carve Out Space
One of the most challenging aspects of any remote position is finding a place to concentrate. If you’re lucky enough to have a home office, this problem takes care of itself! However, even if you’re not equipped with a posh desk space, it’s possible to get some great work done at home.
First, be sure that you’re set up in a quiet corner of the house, preferably at a desk or dining table. You want to find somewhere that will automatically place you in “work mode” (hint: not your bed or couch). As long as you’re sitting upright and can get in some hours while undisturbed, you’re on the right track. Also, try to avoid high traffic common areas, especially if you make a lot of phone calls. If you live with roommates (or have children), ask for some privacy during working hours; they shouldn’t disturb you unless absolutely necessary.
Next, be sure that you’ve got all the equipment necessary to do your job. If you regularly use a second monitor or standing desk at the office, for example, bring them home for the days ahead. Don’t forget to grab some noise-cancelling headphones; these can be a lifesaver for those working in shared spaces. Make a list of all your must-haves and gather them before you get started.
Routine, Routine, Routine
One major plus to an office environment is the sense of routine associated with the workday. You probably wake up, shower, get ready, drive to work, eat lunch, and drive home at roughly the same times each day. When you’re working from home, on the other hand, it’s easy to let that structure fall by the wayside. Don’t be tempted to sleep in or work past the times that you usually eat.
If your day is unscheduled, it’s easy to wind up ignoring your physical needs. Wake up, get ready, and feed yourself on a consistent timetable. Furthermore, be sure that you’re moving around as often as you normally do. Whether you track this on a Fitbit or Apple Watch, keep an eye on your steps and take a walk if needed.
Take a Break
Separating your professional life from your personal life is challenging in the best of circumstances. When you’re working from home, those lines blur even more. Don’t allow yourself to be accessible to your supervisor 24/7; have clear start and end times for each day. Set reasonable deadlines for assignments and build in some time to adjust to your new schedule. If you find yourself becoming stressed, take a breather – take the dog on a walk around the block or get some fresh air on the porch.
Working from home also means that you’ve got time to take care of a few (realistic) household chores. Toss in some laundry when you’ve got writer’s block or roll the garbage can to the curb during a lull. The ideal chores are those that take a few minutes at most, but even in a short time, they can provide a much-needed brain break. Don’t try to undertake massive projects that require a lot of energy; these distractions can jeopardize your effectiveness and contribute to feelings of stress and anxiety.
Be Professional When You Work from Home
This tip is a bit counterintuitive. Many of us assume that getting to work from home means lazing around the house in sweatpants. However, donning more professional attire can make a huge difference in your perception of the workday. This is especially true for those conducting virtual meetings via Skype or Facetime; not only will you feel more put together, but you’ll be dressed appropriately for conversations with clients and coworkers.
Don’t Forget to Socialize
As Americans try to navigate “social distancing” recommendations to slow the spread of coronavirus, we’ve also got to remember the importance of human contact. If you’re used to working in a big office and chatting around the water cooler, working from home can be an isolating experience. Even the most introverted person needs to reach out to friends, family, and peers to stay sane. You can call your boss with any questions, send quick messages to your coworkers on Slack, or get in touch with your friends to discuss how your WFH days are going. Just make sure that you’re reaching out to a few people each day.
You Can Do It!
Even when it seems like the world is ending, working from home has its perks. You’ve got the flexibility to set your own schedule, minus the time it takes to commute, and your family will be safer from an international pandemic. If you find that you’re overwhelmed in the days ahead, we encourage you to reach out to your employer for additional support and resources. With the right level of preparation and structure, working from home can be a breeze.