For many people, working from home is a bonus under normal circumstances. As many of us find ourselves working from home during the coronavirus pandemic, you may find it difficult to adjust.
Spending the workday without seeing your colleagues and having the benefit of in-person collaboration can leave you feeling isolated and uncertain of how to adjust to your new circumstances.
Here are some suggestions on how to handle the unique challenges of working remotely!
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Maintain a routine as closely as possible to your time in the office
Select a regular workspace in your home – the couch or your bed may be tempting, but they won’t help you to feel productive.
Not everyone has the space in their home for a dedicated office. Try to find a place where you can concentrate and, if possible, avoid a shared space like a living room.
At the end of the day, you may find it hard to separate your professional life from your personal life if you’re trying to relax while sitting in full view of your workspace. If you’re using a laptop for work, close it and put it away when you’re done working for the day.
For many people, their morning drive to the office helps them shift into “work mode.” Without that, you may find it difficult to transition into your workday. Getting dressed before work every morning can help ease that transition when you aren’t leaving your house. It’s hard to feel like you’re “at work” in your bathrobe or pajamas.
Schedule breaks just as you would in the office, whether it’s for lunch or to stretch your legs.
Exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet
It’s very easy with your refrigerator within easy reach to spend the day snacking. Think before you eat – if you were in the office, would you spend the day snacking? A good rule of thumb is, if you wouldn’t eat it when you were in the office, don’t eat it now!
While gyms are closed, find alternatives. Go for a walk during lunch or after work. If you prefer to remain indoors, YouTube and other streaming services offer a wide variety of workouts that you can do in a small space without any special equipment.
While in theory it sounds like multi-tasking to catch up on the DVR while working, it really doesn’t work out well. While background music or even a nature sounds app might help you concentrate, it’s probably best to keep the TV viewing for after work!
Office environments are often quieter than the average home and, unless you live alone, it can be hard to concentrate on work with your family around. Boundaries are important and you may need to make it clear to family members that working from home still means working.
Reach out to your colleagues when you’re frustrated or in a funk
This isn’t an easy time for anyone and when you’re used to being able to vent to the colleague in the next cubicle over, working remotely can make you feel more isolated. Try to remember that everyone is going through this together, regardless of location.
Maybe you’re having trouble wrapping your head around an issue that you’d like to discuss with a coworker. Being in different places doesn’t mean you can’t collaborate – send an email, an instant message, video chat or pick up the phone.
Don’t forget your colleagues who live alone. When only leaving the house for essentials like food or medicine and they’re unable to see family, friends or coworkers, their feeling of isolation may be even more acute than most. A quick message or phone call just to check in may mean more to them than you realize.
Accept that the technology you’re working with may not be what you’re used to
You may be using a computer at home that isn’t as fast or efficient as what you’re used to at work. Maybe in the rush to transition workers out of the office, you’ve been asked to use your own equipment. Maybe your remote connection isn’t as stable as you’d like. It’s frustrating but under the extenuating circumstances, you have to do your best to work within those limitations. Concentrating on what you don’t have just causes more stress and won’t help resolve anything.
Control the things you can control and let go of the things you can’t
The world has become a scary place and the constant barrage of news contributes to your stress level. When so much is out of your control, do your best to control the things within your power. Stay informed, but don’t stay glued to the news.
Your home office situation may not be ideal but try to make it as comfortable as possible. It can be simple things, like using your favorite coffee mug while working or placing a frame with one of your favorite pictures on your desk. Any little bit of normalcy you can bring to your day will help to relieve some stress.
Use your time to your advantage!
They’re may be more down time at your job than you’re used to – it might be a good time to start some of the "housekeeping"-type projects that you never seem to have enough time to get to in the office.
There are always things that people put off because of other, more pressing projects. Talk to your manager or colleagues for ideas. Maybe someone is buried under a longer-term project and you can help!
Remember that, while this is a difficult time, we’re all in this together. None of us are alone and we’ll get through this together!