Essential Tips for Working From Home During the Coronavirus Pandemic. In the midst of the new coronavirus pandemic, many companies are implementing voluntary or mandatory work-from-home policies. That means lots of us are dealing with an unusual challenge: working from home for the first time, full-time.
Even if you’ve done it before, working from home because of coronavirus might feel like a whole new world: It’s probably sudden. It might be for an extended period of time rather than a couple of weeks (and you’re not sure how long it’ll last.) Your whole company is involved. And you aren’t supposed to socialize in person outside of work.
These tips will make sure that you’re successful, both at getting your work done, and at maintaining your mental well-being:
1. Get Dressed
You don’t need to dress as formally as you might for work, but the simple act of changing clothes serves as a signal that it’s time to wake up and get things done. “Don’t underestimate the power of putting on clothes suitable for public viewing. It makes you feel human [and] confident and helps draw the line between being at work and being at home,” says Heather Yurovsky, career coach and the founder of Shatter & Shine. “Feeling human” might seem like an odd thing to have to actively think of, but it’s especially important at a time like this when the breakdown of your everyday routines might make you feel cut off from your “normal” life and the “real” world.
Besides, just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean that no one from work will see you. It’s 2020 and we’re all about to have a lot of video meetings.
2. Designate a Workspace or Home Office
One of the big challenges when it comes to working remotely is keeping your work and home lives separate. “For some people, it becomes very blurry,” says career coach Lynn Berger, who specializes in helping people navigate career transitions. Without the separation, your work productivity will suffer and your home life can take a hit as well.
Entering your workspace will help you turn “on” at the beginning of the day and get down to work. On the flip side, leaving your workspace will also help you turn “off” at the end of the day and fully disengage. That’s why it’s also important not to spread yourself across your home—while it might seem great to be able to move from desk to couch to bed, if you let your laptop creep into your downtime space, it makes it harder to keep your work separate from your home life.
3. Keep Clearly Defined Working Hours
Similar to a physical workspace, you should be clear about when you’re working and when you’re not. You’ll get your best work done and be most ready to transition back to the office if you stick with your regular hours. Plus, if your role is collaborative, being on the same schedule as your coworkers makes everything much easier.
“The biggest difference between working from home and working in the office is that you are in charge of your environment and have to treat yourself like an employee,” Yurovsky says. This means holding yourself accountable, but also recognizing when enough is enough, just as a good manager might. “If you feel yourself extending your work hours because you aren’t doing anything in the evening…tell yourself it’s time to put work away, recharge, and start tomorrow with a fresh mind. The work will be there in the morning.”
4. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
If you don’t usually work from home, chances are there will be some bumps. This is more evident in the road if you have to suddenly go fully remote. The key to steering through these bumps is communication—especially with your manager and direct reports. Before you make the switch or as soon as you know it’s happening, come up with a plan. This can lay out expectations for how often you should check-in. It can also help how you’ll convey any changes or new assignments to one another. Do the same with anyone you usually work collaboratively with throughout the day.
“Do not default to email if you would have spoken to a coworker face-to-face while at the office,” Yurovsky says. You might find it’s best to check in with your boss and coworkers. This can be done over the phone, Slack, or through video chat. The result is reduced miscommunication and break up some of the social isolation that can come from working from home.