In light of nationwide shutdowns because of the ongoing coronavirus situation, many companies are instituting work-from-home policies to allow operations to continue while respecting “social distancing” guidelines.
For many who used to going into an office every day, this is a big change. There may be limited access to office supplies and utilities, such as scanners and copiers, and it’s an adjustment not to have face-to-face conversations with those with which you work closely. However, work from home can be just as productive if you keep a few things in mind to help you stay on task and focused.
1.Set up a comfortable workspace.
Try to find a workspace similar to that at the office. Get everything you need in one place, and ensure you have good lighting and can sit comfortably at your computer. If possible, keep your workspace quiet and clear of non-work related things, such as laundry, TV or other distractions you would not have at your office. This will help you stay focused and also maintain some division between your work life and your home life during the time these things are intertwined more than usual. While a total re-creation of your office may not be entirely feasible at home, particularly for those with children or other caretaking responsibilities, attempting to separate your workspace from home life can help not only with productivity, but also your mental well-being.
2.Inform others of how they can reach you
Let clients, customers and co-workers know how they can best reach you at various times throughout the day. This may be email, your cell phone, or other methods of virtual interface, such as Skype or Zoom meetings. Keep any work calendars updated as you normally would for scheduled calls or virtual meetings. Make sure your phone and computer are well-charged and close at hand.
3.Take breaks as you normally would, but treat the day like normal office hours
One problem that can arise when working from home -- one many don’t think of before experiencing it -- is that you may end up sitting in front of your computer for more extended periods of time than you would at your office. Typically, during a day at the office, you will get up to go speak to others in your office, use a copier or drop off mail, take a lunch break or just take a few minutes to get a cup of coffee or stretch your legs. Do the same while working from home to prevent fatigue and burnout. Try to keep your usual work hours as much as possible to stay on top of emails and projects. It can be tempting to sleep in and start the day later, or tell yourself you’ll get back to work in the evening, but, by avoiding such temptation, things run more smoothly and give you peace of mind.
While it’s important to maintain productivity and efficiency while working from home, keep in mind this is an unusual situation for many and may require adjustments. In particular, remote technology may have occasional glitches or interruptions you may not be used to. While it can be frustrating to deal with any technology issue, it might take a little longer to get things resolved remotely. This could be because of a technology situation on your end or from that of a coworker on the other end. The unprecedented number of people who are using the internet and software systems for remote work may also cause things to be slower or operate differently. Be patient with others who may not be able to respond to you as quickly as usual or with IT professionals who are working hard to keep all up and running.