10 Tips for Working from Home: COVID-19 Edition
As a company with team members in all corners of the globe, who works to help improve small and medium sized businesses, our hearts go out to any and all individuals and businesses impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak. As a company consisting almost entirely of digital remote workers, we here at Apsos want to use our expertise to help anyone transitioning into temporary remote work as a result of shutdowns and stay-at-home orders. To do so, we’ve compiled a list of our Top 10 Tips!
1) Maintain a Regular Schedule
When working from home, it is crucial that you do your best to establish and maintain a regular schedule. This will give structure to your day, keep you productive with your work and help you to separate your work life from your home life, since the two are undoubtedly more likely to conflate when taking place in the same location. This doesn’t necessarily mean keeping the same hours you did before working from home, but it can, especially if it helps or the nature of your work calls for it. If you’re able to set your own hours to a certain degree, find what works best for you (and your family if they live with you) and stick with it.
2) Build New Routines Around Your New Schedule
One of the best ways to stick to your new schedule is to build a new routine around it. Since you’re transitioning to a new work location with its own limits and distractions, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to have the same routine at home as you did at the office. It seems trivial, but daily rituals like morning routines, commutes, favorite beverages, completing tasks in a certain order, etc. have a big effect on your attitude and productivity.
When working from home, replicate what you can about your regular routine and come up with temporary substitutes for what you can’t. Just because you could sleep until noon every day and stop showering doesn’t mean you should. If you can’t go out for your daily Starbucks, brew yourself a cup at the same time every morning to recreate that mindset. Since you have some extra time on your hands without all the normal go-between, maybe even take the time to replicate your favorite drink.
3) Set Boundaries for Your Housemates
Whether you’re living with friends, significant others, children or your parents, cooperation from the people you live with is vital to your productivity when working from home. Given the present circumstances, this may be even more important than usual, especially if your housemates are home constantly through no fault of their own. When setting boundaries, you must consider your own needs and also the needs of those around you.
You don’t have to lock yourself in a room all day and forbid interruption like your Daniel Day Lewis in Phantom Thread. Set up a system and make sure your housemates know when you’re working and whether or not they need to monitor their own behavior while you work (you can’t have people yelling in the background while you’re on a conference call, for instance).
4) Establish a Dedicated Workspace
One of the best ways to set boundaries with your housemates and your home life in general is to establish a literal physical boundary. Designating a specific place to work from within your home gives you a lot of the same advantages of a traditional office. When you’re there, you’re there to work. It gets you in the zone both mentally and physically, and it serves as a visual cue for others not to bother you when you’re in said zone.
5) Take Breaks
Just like you would at any normal job, it is important for you to take breaks when working from home. You may be tempted to try rushing through all of your work in one sitting to save time, but this quantity-driven approach isn’t conducive to high quality work. Even if it’s not being mandated by a supervisor, you should take breaks every so often to reset and get the juices flowing again, so to speak.
A big set back to working remotely, especially when you work as part of a team, is the inability to communicate with your co-workers in person. To account for this, it is essential to be extra communicative (if not overly so) via whatever means are left once direct face-to-face interactions are no longer an option. This means calls, texts, emails, social media posts, Facetiming, reaching out via remote work apps like Slack and Asana, etc. The more thorough, frequent and consistent your communication is when working outside the office, the more functional and productive you and your team will be.
7) Remember to Socialize
Working from home means seeing and interacting with a lot less people on a daily basis. This can make you feel lonely, isolated and alienated if you aren’t used to it, which is why it’s important to socialize outside of work with friends and family. This may seem a bit oxymoronic, especially if the whole reason you started working from home is to avoid physical contact with others and adhere to social distancing protocol. But as we’ve already established, physical proximity isn’t a requirement for effective communication.
Instead of going out with friends or traveling to see family, set up a happy hour over Facetime. Call someone you haven’t talked to in a while and catch up. Stay active on social media. Participate in strange viral challenges. Whatever makes you feel less lonely and more connected to the outside world.
8) Stay Active
Again, due to social distancing initiatives and stay-at-home orders, you may need to get creative when it comes to this next tip. Nevertheless, physical essential to a healthy and productive lifestyle. When working from home, regular exercise is a great way to build routine, balance out energy and maintain your overall health, the latter of which is now more important than ever.
If your local gyms, rec centers, public parks, sports fields, etc. are closed for the time being, there’s still plenty you can do from home to stay active regardless of your set up. Even if you have no space and no equipment to work with, someone on YouTube is bound to have a DIY calisthenics routine that’s perfect for you. Working out will help you feel better, work better and be better.
9) Create Rules, Goals & Deadlines for Yourself
As much as these other tips might help, you may still find it difficult to maintain focus and stay on task when working from the comfort of your own home. Remote work lacks the automatic accountability that comes from clocking into a physical location and working in the presence of others. As such, remote workers must learn to hold themselves accountable and exercise a certain amount of self-discipline in terms of their work habits.
A great way to do this is by establishing rules, making goals and setting deadlines for yourself when others don’t. Even if no one is enforcing them, self-imposed regulations are a great way to keep your work habits in check, pace yourself and stay on track with what you’re doing, even if you’re doing it alone.
10) Enjoy the Percs & Stay Positive
Unfortunately, the recent uptick in remote working is the result of what seems to be a purely negative situation. However, as with any hardship in life, it is important to always look on the bright side and try to stay positive. If you find working from home temporarily to be difficult and inconvenient, take solace in the fact that you’re still working while others wish they could be.
There are a lot of awesome benefits to working from home, and you shouldn’t hesitate to take advantage of them while you can. Enjoy the freedom and lack of supervision. Work from bed in your pajamas all day. Cut out early for some much needed family time. Check your email in nothing but a kimono and slippers with David Bowie blaring in the background. Whatever makes you happy. Make the most out of a bad situation rather than making it worse.