These are some crazy times we are in! As a family we are on day 6 of our quarantine, or self-isolation. We were already in Florida when everything just started getting crazy. Luckily we were able to find a way to return home after a few days and we are now safe at home.
I’m hoping all of you are healthy and are doing your part and staying home right now. With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, many people who are able to, are now working from home. It’s become our new reality. At least for now. While working from home is not a new concept for many of us, working remotely for a pro-longed period of time may be. As a former HR professional who had helped one of the large Canadian banks set up their work from home program over 10 years ago when it wasn’t even a “thing” yet, I thought I would share some tips to help you stay productive, stay positive and stay healthy!
Designate a Working Space & Make it Comfortable
With many of us now working from home and our “co-workers” are now our children, spouses and rommmates, it is important that you try and create a home office space for yourself that is in a quiet area with some privacy. You don’t want to be the individual on that virtual conference call with someone from your house walking around in their underwear! If you don’t have a spare room to use, dedicate an area only for work use with a designated desk and comfortable chair. Get creative if you need to and use a table, countertop, whatever works for you. Aside from privacy, a designated work space will also help you to be more productive and also help you maintain some balance between work and life and create some boundaries for you. For more ideas, check out my tips on my Nikou Design blog on how to create a work from home office.
Create a Routine
This may sound pretty basic but trust me it’s so important to create a routine for yourself so that you don’t fall into the trap of working non-stop which can often happen when you work from home. You need to set boundaries for yourself so that your work and life don’t become one. This includes following a morning routine just like you would when you are working in the office. Get up at a decent time, shower, have coffee and breakfast and get ready for your day.
I know this sounds pretty silly, but honestly don’t work in your PJs all day long. When you start working for the day, get dressed for the day. Now I’m not saying throw on a suit or a dress, but wear some comfortable clothing that also makes you feel good and you look professional too. Brush your hair, put on some makeup. Do whatever will make you feel good and make you feel productive. This will help get you into the mindset of “work”. Plus if you are on video conference calls, not sure everyone needs to see your bedhead hair, fuzzy robe or bunny slippers. Find a way to look and feel professional yet casual and comfortable too.
Set real work hours for yourself
Try and maintain your normal working hours even while working from home. For example, if you normally would have worked eight hours in the office try and stick to those hours even at home. The great thing about working from home is the flexibility is gives you. If your workplace is ok with it, schedule your work hours around what works for you and your family and even around your highest productivity hours. Just make sure to be pretty strict with yourself about shutting down at the end of the day to avoid work creeping into your home life.
Take Breaks and Lunch
Often when we’re working from home we don’t have the cues of others around us to remind us to take breaks and to even take lunch or eat. Been there and remember thinking I should really eat breakfast at around 3:00 p.m.! Schedule in a couple breaks and lunchtime for yourself throughout the day and make sure to eat too! It’s also a great opportunity to stretch, walk around for a bit and even go outside for some fresh air. Make sure you have a clock on your desk or nearby (maybe even set an alarm) to remind yourself when it’s time to take breaks, have lunch or end the work day.
When you’re working from home, it can be pretty easy to lose track of deadlines, tasks, meetings and priorities. Try to stay focused by getting organized. Us a planner or online calendar that can help keep you on track. Or my personal favourite is the pretty basic “to do” list. Make one at the end of the day and review it the following morning to keep you on track.
Ok now normally while the kids are in school this is doable but this going to be a bit hard when the whole family is home with you, especially if you have younger children. If possible, ( and this is a big IF POSSIBLE) try your best to avoid distractions while you work. That includes family and friends calling, pets looking for your attention, you jumping on social media too often or even getting dragged into daily household chores around the house. Although that is one of the things I love about working from home. During lunch or a break throw in a load of laundry, or go online and check your Facebook and Instagram (it’s good to stay connected), just don’t get in the trap of doing it all day long.
But keeping it real, I know there will be kids on laps during conference calls, a bit of homeschooling, followed by the necessary meltdowns, meals to be made as kids need to be fed, video games and kiddie conference calls driving you a little nuts (yup, that’s my kid shouting into his iPad about something to do with Fortnite, Minecraft or Roblox – what the heck is a creeper???)…our new “co-workers” are our new reality!
The only tip I have here is try and distract them with something during an important call or what the hubby and I are doing is sharing who needs to distract them if the other one is working on something important.
During these times of “social distancing” (or what I prefer to call “physical distancing”), working from home can become even harder as we feel a bit more isolated and disconnected than we might have before. Take care of your mental health and make sure to stay connected. Connect with co-workers and your manager regularly throughout the day and as needed. They are probably feeling the same way and just would like to hear another person’s voice or even see you on a video call too. Be there for each other, especially now during these times of uncertainty. One of the things that I love is that certain friends that I still have from my previous “work family” are still connecting with me and eachother to help keep each of us sane during this and to ensure we all know how much we care for one another. We all need that right now.
While this post was about working from home, I would also like to add that my thoughts and prayers are with everyone around the world who have been affected by COVID-19. These are crazy times we are living in and we just need to support one another. I also want to express a special thank you to all of our essential workers, the doctors and nurses, the grocery staff and the pharmacy team, truck drivers and police and many more who are doing everything they can do to support all of us. Thank you for everything you do!!
During these uncertain times we just don’t know how long this will last or how long many of us will need to stay home or work from home. So I’m hoping these tips will help you while you work from home during these difficult times.
Stay home, be safe, and keep healthy everyone!