Tips for Working From Home Amid COVID-19

Shifting to a Remote Workforce

As restrictions and social distancing continue throughout the world, we are seeing an unprecedented uptick in working from home.  Businesses across the globe are urging employees to only come into the office if absolutely necessary as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus Disease.  This is a change that many corporations may or may not already have a plan for, so it is imperative that we keep these 7 key items in mind when working from home.   

1. Define Your Schedule - And Stick to it! 

If we think about the traditional method of work, which is in the office, it’s very obvious that everyone is on a ‘schedule’.  This is an extremely important aspect of working from home as well and will help set the pace for your workday.  If you typically have a morning routine of eating, showering, walking the dog, then doing to work... keep it up!  Stick to your routine and keep the same daily ritual.  Although you may be working from a different physical location, the mind and body will appreciate this familiar regimen 

2. Physical Appearance – Look the part!  

Although working from home means we can save time with the daily commute, and potentially some grey hairs from being stressed in traffic, it does not mean that we should let our physical appearance go by the wayside.  Your employer and coworkers do not expect to see you still in sweatpants with messy hair.  Take the time each day to prepare yourself for work just as we would do on a normal day of commuting into the office.  This is a time to showcase your work ethic and dedication while working from home, so take advantage of it...  Your coworkers (and boss) will notice!  

3. Interruptions - We all have them!

Traditional office work comes with plenty of interruptions; coworkers stopping by your desk to chat, hanging out in the break room, or being pulled into a quick stand-up meeting, for example.  While we may not experience the same interruptions while working from home, rest assured there will be many of others to overcome.  It is important to discuss working from home with your family and ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to “work hours” and the concentration required to have a productive workday.  Although this is typically not an easy conversation to have, and never easy be 20-feet away from your loved ones with the door closed, it may be necessary in order to carry out a productive workday as we would in the office.  Keep these potential destractions in mind when working from home:

  • Children, significant other, roommate
  • Daily duties (laundry, dishes, cleaning) 
  • Loud neighbors 
  • Animals 
  • Background noise

4. Stay Close to Your Team! 

Many teams stay close by meeting every day, in-person.  While we may not be able to meet face-to-face, we can still take steps to ensure we remain close by communicating frequently, showing our faces, and collaborating when possible.  If your business already has a video-enabled phone system or meeting platform, leverage these collaboration tools!  I cannot stress this enough.  Although workers may be remote, using video platforms such as Cisco Webex can dramatically increase collaboration and productivity by bringing teams back together while working from home.   

  • Communicate frequently 
  • Show your face when possible!  
    • Cisco Webex – Free 90-day trial with video meeting capability 
  • Show up to meetings and be heard 

5. Breaks - Don't Forget to Take Them! 

Sometimes when we're neck-deep in a project the last thing on our mind is taking a break; however, this is a crucial part of working from home.  Has your back ever hurt after sitting all day?  Eyes felt strained after staring at the computer?  Brain felt like mashed potatoes after concentrating on the same thing?  This is exactly why it is important to take a 15-minute break in the morning and afternoon.  When taking a break, try your best to completely disengage from your computer/phone in order to completely clear the mind.  A 15-minute break may not provide the same benefit if we’re also replying to emails via our iPhone.   

  • Stretch it out - Those limbs will thank you later!  
  • A few quick stretches can help tremendously after sitting for hours on end 
  • Step outside for some fresh air 
  • Grab a healthy snack 

6. Workplace Safety - Yep, Even at Home! 

Have you ever considered if your home office is ‘safe’?  Believe it or not, injuries happen while working from home just as they do when working from the office.  In some cases, working from home could even be more dangerous than working from the office.  Is the candle burning on the bookshelf in a safe place where it won’t be knocked off and cause a fire?  Is your desktop computer sitting on top of the heat register and going to overheat?  Does your desk chair have enough room to do a full spin without knocking over the family pictures?  Take the time to prepare your workspace to ensure you are both safe and comfortable.  Feel free to use the Work from Home Checklist provided by www.telework.gov 

7. Stay Positive!

If the previous six items weren’t enough, here’s one more 

Stay positive!   

 

Working from home has the potential to make us feel isolated or secluded at times.  It is very important that we keep an overly-positive attitude, as we are now using more written communication compared to verbal communication.  Have you ever texted your friend a joke, but they didn’t catch the joke because it was via text instead of being told aloud?  The same thing can happen when communicating with your team, so be sure to use emojis and punctuation when the opportunity strikes!!  😊  

Thank you for reading! 

 

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-Dalton Woolsey

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