In the past, studies have proven employees given the option to work from home decrease the number employees leaving the company and drastically increase the productivity. One study even showed people who work from home actually work 1.4 more days a month than their office dwelling counterparts. While reading these statistics may have employers swooning over the potentially increase in productivity during this crisis, experts are saying the current conditions for most individuals is far from ideal. The whole family is home, a bedroom is not an office and innovation is difficult over the phone. Ultimately, we cannot control these external factors, but here are some tips to help you feel in control during this uncertain circumstance.
Tip 1: Maintain a Routine
We are creatures of habit and when our routine is suddenly disrupted, we go through several emotions such as helplessness, despair, anger and frustration. In order to get back control, try to mimic your previous routine as close as possible.
If you wake up at 5 a.m., then continue that same routine. If you like going for a jog before work, then continue that routine (of course within reason). If you get dressed up for work, then you should still do the same. Otherwise, if we wake up at 9 a.m., not work out, not get dressed, we start to feel out of place and not have a sense of normalcy.
For those who have kids, keeping the same routine will be critical for your children; otherwise, they will perceive time at home as if it were time off and not be motivated to learn. This will make it harder for you to help them stay on track in finishing their schoolwork.
Tip 2: Don’t Use Extra Time to Work
One of the biggest mistakes people do when they work from home is to work more. Many do it because they feel guilty that they are working remotely and don’t want their boss or co-workers to think they are slacking off, or they don’t know what to do with the extra time and, as a result, use the time to “catch-up”
Create time boundaries and use that extra time to do something else. If you commute to work, chances are you take that time to listen to music, podcasts, audio books, or something else. That shouldn’t stop. The time getting to and from work is a transition period between home and work, and as frustrating as commuting can be, it’s our time to prepare ourselves to go to the office. By not commuting, the lines start to get blurred between work and home.
Tip 3: Use Video Chat
For many of us, in-person contact is important because we are able to read social cues when talking with someone. When we work from home, our in-person contact with co-workers disappears; as such, it becomes important to see the people you talk to.
Try to use the video function of Zoom, WebEx, MS Teams, and other programs. I realize many people are not comfortable being in front of a camera; however, doing so will allow you the opportunity to see your friends and colleagues and, in turn, it will give the impression that you are still connected. At a minimum, continue your chats via instant messenger or phone. Don’t just rely on email.
Tip 4: Take Breaks
Being in the office lends itself to chit chat with co-workers. Someone comes around and asks if you want to go grab a coffee or asks you to go for a walk. That clearly will be hard to do if you’re now working remotely but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take breaks throughout the day. Taking breaks will be critical to your sanity but also make sure you rest your eyes from sitting in front of the computer.
One way to add breaks into your schedule is by adding a daily calendar invite for 10 mins at 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., or you can use Clockify, free software that tracks how long you’ve been on your computer. Regardless, make a concerted effort to step away from your computer.
Tip 5: Move Around
At this time, we don’t know how long this pandemic will last and chances are we will be home longer than we want. So, take a step back and look at your home. Ask yourself, “if this space were a WeWork or Coffeeshop, where would I want to sit throughout the day?” Even if you live in a small space, moving your chair from one place to another will give the brain the perception that you are now in a new space. Obviously, this would be applicable to those working on a laptop.
For those working on a desktop, perhaps think about adding flowers to your desk area or re-arranging it a little to make it look a bit different. Also, moving your desktop to an area that has a lot of sunlight will also help because it will make where you work brighter. Regardless, the point is to find spaces in your home where you can move around throughout the day even if it means simply taking a call from your phone somewhere other than your desk.