Working from home, now the “new normal” for most of us, may change the landscape of the work place forever. In the meantime, thousands of people have been forced to quickly adjust to a significant change in their lives. It has been 10 years since I started working from home. It was an adjustment, yet one of my choosing. I’d like to share a few things I learned along the way.
Set a Schedule – Working from home brings many advantages as well as potential pitfalls. It is important to have a schedule. While you may gain some time at the beginning and end of the work day from having a shorter “commute” to your office, it is good idea to maintain specific work hours. Yes, you have some flexibility, but maintaining a consistent schedule will maintain your focus and productivity. It also helps to avoid the urge to work 24/7.
Create Your Office – If you have a separate room where you can set up your office, it is a good idea to do so. If you don’t have a separate room, find a space you can dedicate as your office. The physical act of closing a door or “leaving” your office, helps to differentiate home/personal time from work time.
Be sure you have the tools to work efficiently: computer with a camera, printer, internet access, phone, office supplies, online collaborations tools (Zoom, Google Hangout).
Connect with Others – Given the current environment, it could be a while before we work in an office with our colleagues next to us or right down the hall. Seeing and connecting with each other is very important. With today’s technology, face to face interaction is easy, even when we are miles apart.
Make sure you carve out time each day to connect with family, friends or colleague via video or phone. We all need human interaction, especially now. This article emphasizes the importance of connection and has a number of suggestions on doing so.
Take a Break – Without the regular interaction that takes place in an office environment and/or the need to head home at a certain time, I found there is a tendency to work longer hours and also spend a great deal of time sitting in front of the computer.
Remember to take a break! Get up from your desk, give someone a call, take a walk outside (following social distancing guidelines) or around your home, eat lunch in a different room, meditate or exercise. It will clear your mind and recharge your batteries.
Managing Stress and Anxiety – The reason we are now working from home, may increase stress and anxiety. Connecting with others and taking a break are great ways to help with the stress and anxiety of the corona virus. Some additional tips from the CDC include:
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
- Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
- Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
Working from Home with Children – Today, working from home also involves taking care of children. Depending on their age, this can create some additional challenges to setting up a routine. I cannot offer any tips from personal experience; however below are some links that I think could be helpful:
Most of all, take care of yourself and your family!