In this era of social distancing, working from home can feel lonely and sometimes unproductive. Laundry needs folding, you’re eager to keep your space clean, and you want to keep up with the news. And, to top it off, cabin fever might creep in. While this current normal might take some getting used to, setting up a defined schedule (and sticking to it) can help.
Create a dedicated work space in your home
If you have a spare room or secluded space you can turn into an office, do it. This will help you avoid checking emails or making calls while you’re in front of the TV or other distractions. Do your best to make this space a stress-free zone of solitude. If you don’t have an extra room, work to find a corner with minimal traffic.
Stick with your current routine
Just because you’re not driving to the office every morning doesn’t mean you should skip your normal weekday prep. Wake up at your normal time, shower, and get dressed in real clothes. Sticking to this type of routine can help you mentally prepare to tackle the day and get into your “work” mindset. You should also work to keep your schedule. If your normal hours are 9-to-5, keep doing that at home.
Check your bandwidth
You’re home working, your spouse might be, too. Is your internet access able to keep up? With so many jumping online, you’ll be testing your internet capacity. If you begin getting notifications that your bandwidth is low, try shutting down programs you’re not actively using. If your team wants to jump on a video call but it’s choppy, you might need to consider switching to audio only. Other family members accessing the internet can contribute to your bandwidth issues, too. As your family works through their new normal, set some ground rules about when others can and can’t be online. Also work with your partner to stagger video meetings, if possible.
Your kids are great but prepare for disruptions
With schools closing all over the country and growing concerns with putting your kids in daycare, many parents are left with no option but to work remotely with their kids at home, too. Work now to make a plan for education and entertainment – stock up on things like puzzles, Legos and books. You could even get creative and work to set up virtual play dates using video chat. During this time, you’ll need to be increasingly flexible to entertain your kids while working to complete your work tasks.
Get some fresh air
Experts are advising all to limit their contact with people who may be sick so you’re likely spending lots of time indoors. If the weather allows, open your windows and let in as much fresh air and natural daylight as you can. If you live in an unpopulated area, get out and take a short walk – be sure to wash your hands as soon as you return home.
Undeniable, the loss of frequent interaction with your coworkers can feel isolating. Fill that gap by scheduling online social time with your coworkers and friends. Now’s the time to embrace video calling and webcams so you can see your colleagues and not just hear them. If things feel awkward at first, try an ice breaker and ask everyone to share their favorite TV show or something they’ve read recently.
Keep your attitude in check
These are trying times and social isolation can feel overwhelming. Don’t let your confined circumstances stifle your creativity, productiveness or happiness. Use the tips above to make the most of working at home and staying connected with those around you.