As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, life is changing for people around the globe. For many, this means radical changes in the way they work. While those who are freelancers or who regularly work remotely may not feel much impact to their daily routine, this isn't true for everyone. As offices shut down and ask their employees to stay home, millions of people are experiencing what it's like to work from home for the first time.
As with any major change, settling into something new can feel overwhelming at first. Where should you set up your workstation? Should you even bother getting dressed? How can you stay connected with your colleagues? These are all valid concerns. At My Modern Met, we're used to working remotely with our editorial staff spread across the United States and Europe. That's why we've decided to come together and give some handy tips on how to handle your workday, even when you're not in the office.
So stay calm and you'll see that, once you settle in, working at home isn't so different from working at the office. By following these easy tips and tricks from those who have experience in working remotely, you'll get into the groove in no time.
Here are 9 easy tips to make working at home a breeze.
Get Into a Routine
At first, you may want to indulge in not having to go to the office by sleeping a little late and procrastinating. Give yourself a day or two to take advantage and then snap back into a routine. This is no vacation, and it will be noticeable if you aren’t doing your work. It helps to set your alarm at a regular time and go through your normal morning routine.
If you’re used to getting a coffee on the go, start getting into a new ritual with a fresh pot in your kitchen. By keeping things consistent, you won’t find yourself scrambling at the end of the day to get things done because of delays early in the morning.
Part of this new routine includes getting dressed! Don’t slip into a bad habit of sticking to your pjs. Sure, perhaps you don’t need to put on that suit and tie, but getting yourself dressed in the morning can lift your mood. And doesn’t everyone need to be in a good, positive headspace to be productive?
Don’t Work in Bed (or on Your Sofa)
While it can be tempting to settle on your sofa or stay in bed with your laptop, don’t fall into this trap. Though it may seem comfier, in the long term you’ll find yourself sitting in positions that could end up doing a number of your back and also make you less alert than usual. Keeping yourself productive means setting up a workstation for yourself, preferably in a quiet place close to a window or filled with light.
Without an office setting—and the distractions that come with it—you might risk getting so immersed in work that you forget to take a break. It’s important to make sure that you are giving yourself proper downtime during your day. Think about employing the Pomodoro technique, which asks you to break your workday into 25 to 30-minute intervals followed by short breaks. The idea is to promote focus and flow by allowing you to set times for concentration, followed by a break.
While you’re on your breaks, don’t just sit in your chair and browse the internet. Get up and get active, whether that means doing some stretches or moving around the house to do chores. In fact, one of the perks of working from home is that you can get a lot done during these breaks. Whether throwing a load of laundry in the wash, starting up a meal in your slow cookers, or getting in a quick yoga session, you’d be surprised at what you can accomplish.
Being out of the office doesn’t mean you're all alone. Thanks to technology, you can stay as connected as ever to your coworkers. From Slack to Skype, you’ll be able to keep office culture going. And, of course, video conferencing apps—even FaceTime—make it easy to speak “face to face” about important issues or just to chat. Take advantage of these outlets, which are particularly important if you live alone, as they’ll give you the human contact you might be craving.
Don't Sit in Silence
Can’t stand silence? Music, television, and podcasts will become your best friends. What you select depends on the type of work you do and how easily you get distracted. Some people find it comforting to have the television playing in the background, while others prefer upbeat music to keep their mood light. Podcasts are also a great way to keep your mind engaged. If they’re too distracting during the workday, listen to them during your morning pre-work routine, much like you would have done while commuting to the office.
Get Everyone on Board
Whether it’s a spouse or roommate who is also working from home or children off from school, you may not find yourself alone in the house. While this can be great in terms of having company, it can be difficult when you need a quiet space to work. That’s why it’s important to get everyone in the house on board and set boundaries about when you are in work mode.
For those with small children, this may mean setting a schedule with your significant other and taking turns caring for the kids and working. If your kids are a bit older, make sure they understand that you can only be interrupted for emergencies and schedule certain times of the day when they know that they’ll be able to see you. That might mean lunch together or specific break times dedicated to them.
Know When to Turn Off
Anyone who works from home will tell you that this is fundamental. When you work from home, there’s a risk that the lines can become blurred between work time and personal time. That’s why it’s critical to have a limit to the hours you work. Once you’ve hit that limit, close the laptop and walk away from your desk. There’s always work to do no matter how many hours you dedicate and it will still be there tomorrow. So take a step back and enjoy your personal time, as you’ll be fresher and more focused the next morning if you do so.