Coronavirus (COVID-19) precautions have caused many employees around the world to turn the comforts of home into their new office – complete with laptop, log-in info, and the ability to take part in conference calls right from your couch.
But as nice as it may sound to type away in your pajamas and skip that certain meeting, you might find it hard to get into a good rhythm while working from home – especially if you aren’t used to it.
Instead of feeling at ease, you might notice temptations all around you such as a fridge full of food, a TV crammed with endless streaming opportunities, pets and kids who need attention, and noisy neighbors.
Here are some things to remember to help you stay productive and not go stir crazy if the coronavirus keeps you indoors:
The most important thing you can do is designate a work space that is for work and nothing else – no social media, no pet time, no distractions of any kind. The more you build a specific “desk” or “cubicle,” the more it will feel like work to you.
Some experts suggest acting like you ARE going into the office. Shower, comb your hair, brush your teeth, wear nice clothes – or at least a shirt appropriate for work – and have that cup of coffee, of course. Get into your familiar work feeling and pattern, and you’ll wake up quicker and start your day more refreshed.
Once you are ready to work, the TV should go off, and you should vow not to surf the web or join in on social media for at least a couple of hours. Having trouble focusing? There are no shortage of apps that can block social sites for a designated amount of time so you won’t be tempted.
Many experts also recommend noise-canceling headphones in case your neighbors start to mow the lawn or move large furniture all day long on the stairs outside your residence. Try to find some music that gets you in the mood to work -- relaxing music, hypnotic music, whatever blocks the outside world and helps you focus.
One of the problems in working from home is you might be more drawn toward sleep or lethargy. After all, the bed and the couch are right there! But that’s how bad habits start. Instead of being too casual when you wake up, dive into one work assignment and get it complete. Don’t worry about chores, breakfast, or other home duties and luxuries until you have something to show for your time.
Don’t let those four walls and all that familiarity rob you of vitality. If you work from home, chances are you have many opportunities to get outside. Get out and walk the dog every few hours. Take a quick stroll around the block, sit on the patio and enjoy a nice breeze, and take a lunch hour like normal -- anything to keep yourself feeling energetic.
Nowadays, working from home doesn’t cut you off from communication. And it goes way beyond emails. Be sure you are up to speed on video-conferencing services and shared-work platforms that allow you collaborate with your co-workers about projects.
Working from home requires boundaries. When the workday finishes, close the laptop and get back to regular life. Just because your “office” is only a few feet away doesn’t mean you have to constantly check in. Keep a log of all the things you accomplish each day, and send regular updates to your boss or other people you are working with.
The other things that cause fatigue in your office still apply at home, too, so avoid sugary snacks, look away from your monitor every once in a while, stretch, invest in a stand-up desk – and keep an eye on your mental health.
Many people dream of being able to work from home to avoid long commutes, regular office stress, and now, the threat of germs. But it’s not as easy as it seems.
Being productive, not feeling cut off or bored, and staying healthy and engaged in your work require constant vigilance. In our modern world, learning to successfully navigate a home office may soon be the new normal.
Sources: CNN, Forbes, NBC News, Time, Healthline, BBC.