Working from home has become pretty common over the last decade. It’s not for everybody. Right now we’re trying to head off the global spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. This means a lot more people are having to work from home at least temporarily. Schools are closing in a lot of areas right now too. Today my kids are at school learning how to connect to online study sources and classrooms. They will also be “working from home” for the next two weeks. These tips will help both adults and children navigate this new routine.
Get dressed and ready for the day!
That’s right! Get up, take a shower, get dressed and ready to go to work just like you would for any other job. “But wait!” you say, “I was promised all-day in pajamas!” I hear you, and that does sound wonderful. The reality is that if you stay in pajamas, it’s harder to make that mental jump from your bed to your workday. Getting dressed like you’re going to work helps keep you to a somewhat familiar routine. It also becomes that wakeup time that used to happen during your commute to school or work.
Keep normal working hours but enjoy the flexibility
This doesn’t need to be a strict nine to five, but it is important for coworkers to know when you’re working. It also helps with setting a routine. Keeping some sort of routine is helpful for staying motivated and productive. Working from home does give you more flexibility with your time too. If your work allows it, use that flexibility to knock out a quick errand in the morning or afternoon. People are usually more or less productive at different times of the day. If you are more productive in the morning, you may take advantage of that by starting a couple of hours earlier.
Declare a workspace
Having a dedicated workspace is essential. You can have more than one, but you really need to have at least one space that is only/mostly used for work. If you work in a space used for leisure, it will be harder to get your brain into work mode. It’s also easier to get some alone time for focus if you have a space separate from other members of your household.
Set clear rules for family members and/or roommates
The people that live with you are not used to you being there all day during the workweek. It may take some time for them to understand that you’re at work at home, not at home. It’s best to talk to them before you start working for the day. See if they need anything from you and try and schedule those things into your day. Let them know when you need to focus on a project for a couple of hours uninterrupted. I start work each day by announcing to the family that “I’m going to work now.” and going to my office. You can use the office door (open/closed) or some headphones (on/off) or even a sign to let them know when it’s ok to interrupt you. If you set expectations ahead of time, you’re less likely to have your workday derailed.
Take regular breaks
They say that sitting for long periods is the new smoking. I can’t even imagine how bad sitting and smoking together is for you. Even if you don’t’ work from home, you should stand up and walk around some throughout the day. I have an adjustable desk that I can change the height and stand up now and then without having to quit working. You still need to take a break now and then and walk away from your work. If it’s nice out, take a walk to the end of your street and back. The fresh air and exercise are good for you. I can’t count how times I’ve solved roadblock problems while walking outside during a break.
Find ways to socialize
Breaks make wonderful times to check in with family or roommates and socialize for a few minutes. Our team uses slack for regular communication and socialization during work hours. We talk about work stuff and sometimes just hang out and joke around together. It helps the team bond and gives us a place to ask/answer ques and discuss the projects we’re working on. We also have regular standup call-in meetings during the week that give us time together. Loneliness is a common issue for remote workers, so make sure you’re finding ways to socialize.
Keep your calendar updated
Working remotely makes it more difficult to avoid scheduling conflicts. Your work calendar is the best way for people to see your availability. I put everything on mine, including my kids’ sports and school stuff. I have double booked time slots in the past because something didn’t make it on the calendar. It’s best to keep it all together in one place to make it easier for everybody.
Enjoy the adventure!
Working from home can be a great adventure. It provides the ability to do things that a normal office commute would put completely out of my reach. I hope these tips are helpful to you as you start or continue your career of working from home.
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