COVID-19 has disrupted home, social, and work life for most of the world. As we all do our part to help flatten the curve by isolating, self-quarantining, and practicing social distancing, many are finding themselves in a new, unfamiliar role: working from home.
Maybe you enjoy being home, but your time goes more to social media and playing with your cat than getting any work done. Or maybe you’re knocking tasks down, but constantly lashing out at anyone who wanders too close to you while you’re working.
Some are expereincing the worst of both worlds: you’re miserable and you’re spinning your wheels.
Haden Interactive specializes in copywriting, content marketing, digital marketing, blogging, and SEO services. While we’re a small, local, family-owned business, we’ve worked with clients across the globe on four different continents. We provide a digital product, and we do the bulk of our work from home offices.
Working remotely for over a decade has given us some insight into how to do this whole work from home thing.
The reality of remote work is that it comes with advantages as well as challenges. Flexibility and convenience are at the top of the list for benefits, but it can be difficult to stay positive and productive while working from home.
Whether you’re in it for the long haul or just the next couple of months, dialing in your remote work routine is key in getting the job done and feeling good about the work that you do. Here are a few tips for working from home—from the little game-changing details to the glaringly obvious solutions.
Get up and get dressed
Working from bed in your PJs may sound like an awesome idea, but you will soon realize that’s a romanticized notion. You won’t get anything done and you will feel like a bum because you’re being a bum.
Take the time each day to get dressed and look presentable. It’s surprisingly helpful.
You don’t have to put on a suit and tie or dress to the nines. Pretend it’s casual Friday, or at the very least put some pants on. Get ready like you’re leaving the house.
It makes a big difference and helps you stay happy and productive while working from home. You’ll really be glad you made the effort if you suddenly get called into a Zoom meeting, too.
Transition into the workday
Some people make the mistake of smacking their alarm clock and punching their time clock. Give yourself a little room to breath and ease into the day.
Establish a morning routine that helps you transition into work mode.
Shower, eat breakfast, have a cup of coffee or tea, exercise or meditate, and spend a little time doing something that you enjoy before starting your grind.
Set up a work schedule
A sturdy framework for your day helps you stay happy and productive while working from home. One of the perks of working from home is the flexibility, but establishing work hours keeps you on track.
Schedule a start time, stop time, and break times, and hold yourself to those work hours. It’s your job. Working from home doesn’t make it any less serious or important.
Respect your work hours and track your time.
Have a dedicated workspace
Maybe your significant other, your roommates, or your children are stuck at home with you. It’s difficult for others to recognize your work hours when your office desk is the kitchen table.
Establishing your workspace is good for your productivity and it helps those in your home recognize when you’re available and when you are on the clock.
Ideally, you can have a dedicated workspace that is just for your work. This helps you create the separation between work and family life. Not everyone has an extra room to convert into a home office, however.
If you can’t have a dedicated workspace, at least designate a workspace that is completely yours during work hours.
Make sure your work space is comfortable and free of distractions.
Communication is key
Communicating with your peers, clients, and coworkers has unique challenges when you’re working from home, especially if the people involved aren’t accustomed to remote work.
People can’t read facial expressions through an email, or feel a vibe through a screen. Be as clear as possible. Language is really neat, but it’s also kind of miraculous that we can understand each other at all.
View redundancy in communication as a good thing. Repeat important information more than you think is necessary because someone will read it for the first time the last time that you share it.
Don’t assume that others know what you mean just because you know what you mean. Also, don’t assume that you know what someone else means if there’s any ambiguity (pronouns are surprisingly tricky).
If something isn’t clear, get clarification.
Boost your focus
Identify the things that help you focus and get your work done.
Some listen to talk radio while others listen to jazz or instrumental music. My sister turns on golf (she doesn’t like golf) just to have something going on in the background that isn’t distracting. Maybe you thrive in pure silence.
It’s going to take a little while to figure out your perfect working conditions, but pay attention to what’s going on when you’re getting lots of work done and when you’re frittering away your time.
Keep the things that help you focus and get rid of the things that hamper productivity.
All work and no play… drives you insane
Take work seriously, but take play seriously, too. Work when it’s time to work, and unwind when you’re off the clock.
Taking breaks during the day doesn’t make you lazy. Stepping away from your work every once in a while keeps you in a good mood and improves productivity.
Learn how to change gears
It’s difficult to differentiate between work and home life when they happen in the same place. Learn how to set clear boundaries—and respect those boundaries—for work, home, and play.
If you don’t, you will feel like home life bleeds over into work life and work life bleeds over into home life; neither will go the way you want it to go.
If you’re not careful, you won’t leave your home for days. Staying home is the thing to do during the coronavirus outbreak, but literally staying confined within the walls of your home for days on end isn’t good for your mental health.
Get outside (while practicing social distancing, of course). Go for a walk up and down the street, ride your bike around the block, drive around with the windows down (sneezing into your elbow, of course), step out your front door, see the sun, breath some fresh air, and remember what the world looks like.
You’d be surprised at just how little you move during the day during a quarantine.
Humans weren’t designed to sit in place for hours on end. Still, many who work from home are sedentary for two-thirds of the day (eight hours of sleep and eight hours sitting stationary at a screen).
Spend one of your breaks during the day getting some exercise. Or find time before or after work to move around. You need it.
Physical activity is crucial for your physical health and your mental health.
Know when to shut up shop
What are the expectations for your job? If you’re not normally expected to answer work emails late into the night, or fulfill requests within an hour, you don’t have to start now.
Find your flavor
We’re all human, but no one is the same. Different personalities and preferences means that remote work will look a little different from person to person. Figuring out what works best for you will take purpose, attention, and trial and error.
Some people long for water cooler talk and office banter. Others prefer to work in solitude. Maybe you can make sales and steamroll through your to-do list in your robe and slippers from the comfort of your couch. Others would spend the day napping and binging Netflix shows in those work conditions.
You have to find out what works for you.
We would love to hear your tips for working from home. Please leave your ideas in the comments below. If you’d like to outsource any of your content creation, or support for building your online presence get in touch with us!