Are you one of the people who have been working from home during the pandemic? Does it seem like it has been forever since you put on work clothes and went to an actual office? Covid has certainly changed the way we do business – sometimes for the better, and other times – not so much.
Some people thrive with the new, more independent routine they have, and others long for social contact. No matter how you feel, it’s a good bet that working from home will be around for some time yet this year, and possibly into the future. To help you adapt, here are some top tips to make your work from home experience more meaningful:
- Create an “office” area: Yes, of course it’s still a home, but to think like you’re at the office it should feel like you’re at the office. Don’t slouch on the couch, or try to work from bed. Set up an actual desk area that replicates the space you had at the other location. Think about ergonomics in terms of your chair, desktop, and computer set-up. You don’t want to hurt your body through poor repetitive motions actions. Invest in a good quality head-set and camera set-up for those Zoom meetings.
- Keep to your “office” routine: One thing many people actually like about going to an office location is the sense of structure it brings to their day. Don’t lose this when you work at home. Get up at the same time, get dressed, and go to your work area. Take a break for lunch, and stop working when the day is done. Try not to take work calls or respond to work social media after hours. Don’t ignore your personal or family time because you just want to “take a minute” and finish that one job.
- Look after your health: It’s important to prioritize your physical and mental health. Move around, maintain your social circles outside of work, and watch out for the dreaded “quarantine fifteen.” Even though colleagues can only see you from the shoulders up, stay healthy for yourself and your family. Take sick days or mental health days as needed.
- Set boundaries: If you don’t live alone, you will have to set boundaries with your house mates as to noise levels and when you can be disturbed. It’s hard to shut everyone out when children are remote learning, so work with other caregivers to share responsibilities. Talk to your supervisor about flexing your schedule, and make sure there are work boundaries so you are not interrupted on your personal time. Friends must understand that you are working, so they don’t stop over or try to contact you during work time.
- Reconsider communications: Even though you are isolated, you still need to keep in touch with your work community. But you don’t want to overdo it either. Think about your time as well as theirs. Sometimes a quick question can be handled via text or email, but if it starts to become a long thread, it might be time to make a call. If there are technical specs to work out, that should be done in writing so you can send documents to others for review. Let your supervisor know your status, and get help clarifying priorities. If you are the manager, establish clear expectations and schedule regular check-ins without hovering. One video call in the morning with your team can keep everyone in touch, and lay out assignments for the day. Team members can then contact you directly with any questions or concerns.
- Set and keep goals: Some people get distracted in the home environment. If that sounds like you, set out a work project that must be completed each day to keep you on task.
When approached properly, you might just discover that you thrive in a work-from-home environment. If you do decide that it’s not for you, though, do the best you can to adapt for now. As more businesses open up in the future, you might want to look for different work opportunities if your company decides to stay remote.