How to Adjust Working From Home

With government-mandated school closures and self-isolating stay-at-home orders, our lives have been changed dramatically by the COVID-19 pandemic. Anxiety and depression have reached an all-time high as people try to make sense of this virus responsible for the global pandemic we’re experiencing. Before the pandemic the most common employment model involved workers traveling to a worksite or office building to do their jobs, with a very small share of employees having the option to work remotely or from home. All of a sudden, the world has changed, and practically everyone is working from home, whether they wish too or not. School teachers, business owners, and practically all office workers, have adopted a new work style in a new workplace, the home office! Some of you may not be prepared to work from home, much less enjoy it, but we have little choice in the matter given the circumstances.
Today, we would like to offer you some actionable guidance and a few helpful tips for effectively navigating this world of our new normal. While typically working from home involves the use of some type of electronic communication equipment, with related technology, different work involves different configurations or setup. As such, our guidance is hardly “one size fits all”, but we are most hopeful you can find something useful or enlightening in it. As always, take what suits you best and share or ignore the rest.

Find a Dedicated Work Space

In preparing to work from home, one of the first and most important things to do is to establish a “Dedicated Work Space”, that is comfortable and conducive to a committed work effort. We know that everyone’s living situation is different, and dedicating a space to work may be a challenge, but it’s important so if at all possible do it. Situate your space to avoid distraction, and to promote comfort and wellbeing. If you have an extra room or study in your home, it’s a no brainer, but if not, you might want to find a suitable space in your living room or bedroom. The ideal space should have excellent internet or WiFi access, and adequate power outlets. Invest in a couple of surge protectors as an option to expand your available power.
It’s time to be honest with yourself, if the TV distracts your attention, don’t make it easy to watch the TV. If you find it difficult to maintain focus, do things to promote a more disciplined effort. You have to be intentional and committed if you are going to maintain your productivity. Your idea work space should help you create and maintain a good work-life balance, allowing for a good 8 hour day that doesn’t become a consistent 12 to 15-hour marathon.

Get the Right Equipment to Promote Productivity

You must equip yourself with the right communication technologies.  Consider your workflow and rhythm in the office and try to replicate it at your home office. Somethings are easier to obtain and setup than others but be mindful and deliberate about it. Make sure that you have a headset that connects with your phone and laptop. Keep all your device fully charged by making a habit of keeping them plugged in whenever possible. Trust me on this….. You’ll be glad you did or sorry and wish you had.

Stay Connected with Your Colleagues

Since we are not seeing our coworkers face-to-face, we can easily get lost and isolated in the comforts of our home. It’s really important to continue to have a good rapport and working relationships with your team. Some companies are doing webcam meetings, messaging, and virtual hangouts with one another through a group-chat app to keep the excitement and enthusiasm of the group. It helps you to stay current with the business climate and happening outside of your home.  Good and consistent socializing with your team has proven benefits of relieving stress and to builds trust and enhance productivity.

Please try not to work in pajamas. Get ready for work as if you are going to the office. It helps to support your discipline and flow.  Eat your breakfast if that’s part of your normal routine. Dress in business casual attire, again supporting your routine, which promotes the discipline of a deliberate work day. Settle into your workspace, log in for the day, follow your routine in a way to allow you normal work ritual to help keep you grounded.

Expect the Unexpected at Home

Murphy’s Law is for real…. “If things can go wrong, they will go wrong.” When you are in the office, there are folks all over the place to deal with it, but at your home office, you are the one to deal with it!
You will lose WIFI (I get this all the time), there will be a barking dog during your important meeting, house duties will challenge your work prioritizes, and many other distractions will surface that can crush your productivity. You need to anticipate problems and be prepared. Make sure your cell phone can serve as a hotspot with data speeds to support your work, keep the help-desk number handy so you don’t have to look for it.
Set expectations with housemates to understand that when you are at work you need to be able to work uninterrupted. Approach your employer about setting up a home office. If you don’t ask, you may not know what’s being made available. Remember, everyone is still adjusting to their new work style, so it’s important to be patient and understanding and be sympathetic toward other’s needs and work challenges.

Don’t’ Forget to Give Yourself A Break

You might not believe it but it is really easy to get glued to your laptop and so focused on your work that you forget the time and before you know it you’ve missed lunch. Especially when you love or at least like the work you do. A workday with peers and colleagues around creates natural prompts and distractions that you grow accustomed to. Absent the prompts, there is a good chance you will naturally lose sight of the breaks of your normal office routines. Over time, the missed breaks can add up and lead to burnout, or at a minimum, affect your concentration, mood, energy, focus, and physical well-being.
So it is very important to take a breather, stretch, or go for a walk, and remember to eat your lunch.
Are you now ready for work? Please share other tips by commenting below that can help anyone working from home.
Featured photo: Retha Ferguson

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