As COVID-19 slowly begins to affect all of us, many people around the world are finding themselves transitioning from office life to working from home. While doing conferences in your sweatpants can be fun, it’s easy to procrastinate when you’re at home – especially when we’re all anxious and stressed about the state of the world around us. Additionally, it can be hard to set work life and personal life boundaries to achieve that perfect balance. Here are some tips from the pros that have been doing it every day for a while.
1. Keep the 9-5 schedule
Work the same hours you would in an office. If that means a 9-5, do your morning ritual and make a coffee at 9 am, and make sure to shut your computer off and not answer any work emails after 5 pm. If you’re working with someone in another time zone, this can be flexible, but make sure to practice self-care and relax the next day for a bit.
2. Take breaks
Most companies have a policy that allows you to take lunch breaks or a 15-minute pause. Our eyes can easily get tired from the screens on our devices, so make sure to take an hour off for lunch, and some other walks in between to give yourself and your eyes a break.
3. Create rules
If you’re working from home with other people, whether that’s kids who come home or your partner, you need to set boundaries so that you’re not interrupted. Explain to the other people who live in your space that just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you can pick up slack on pet walks, dishes, or other errands. This will help you stop feeling taken advantage of, and will allow you productivity to thrive.
4. Get out of the house
We‘re all in self-quarantine, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go for a short walk to the park to get some fresh air. It can be depressing to hole yourself up in your home every day, and some oxygen and sunlight will vastly improve your mood, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
5. Try not to work from the couch – focus on ergonomics
It’s not necessary to have a separate office room. Though that would be ideal, it’s not realistic for many who don’t have too much space in their home. Working from your couch, especially on a laptop, can wreak havoc on your upper, mid, and lower back, as well as aggravating sciatica. Try to use a desk, and lift your laptop up with books, maintaining 90 degrees at the bend of your elbow and knees, while sitting up as straight as possible.
6. Virtual socialization
When working remotely, it can be easy to feel lonely and isolated, especially for social butterflies. Start a Slack, Skype, or Zoom chat room, or some other form of communication where you can talk with other employees about common interests or any other small talk that takes the pressure off. Many refer to this as “water cooler chat.” Communication and reaching out to those around you for support is a big part of working remotely.
7. Communicate, communicate, communicate
Over-communication isn’t just a thing with remote work – it’s necessary. Talking face to face is obviously easier, but share as much as possible with your fellow colleagues and employers. Even if you think you’re spelling it out too obviously, things can get a lot murkier from behind your keyboard, so spare yourself the stress and be as clear and straightforward as possible, encouraging the same from people around you.
8. Try to get out of those pajamas and brush your teeth
You can totally self-indulge and get comfy once in a while, but dressing too comfortably from home every day has been proven to affect productivity. If you stick to your personal hygiene and grooming routine, putting on an outfit that’s appropriate for the public, you’ll feel more professional and focused as your workday goes on.
9. Use headphones and mute microphone for conferences
Doing video conferences can be frustrating and uncomfortable, but are an important part of working from home. This won’t only help with communication but will make you feel more connected to other human beings around you, and builds more meaningful interactions and stronger relationships between co-workers.