The ongoing pandemic situation has us all on lockdown and those who used to work in an office now have to work from home. While it might seem easy and comfortable, managing a home office can still be a tricky thing to master.
Some companies offer guidelines for their employees to help them adapt to these new circumstances, as more and more jobs become convenient to do remotely. But there’s more to this subject than bringing your working notebook home and sitting down to read a few emails! There are many ways to make your home office life much easier and stress-free, as well. Whether it’s about creating a personal space for work or keeping in touch with your colleagues, this list has everything you might need to give you some ideas!
Start Your Morning Right
We’re sure everyone has their own ritual for the morning when it comes to waking up and getting to work. Maybe it’s grabbing a hot cup of coffee, eating a hearty breakfast or reading some articles – these habits can kickstart the day the right way, as they become associated with productivity.
It’s important to stick with these routines even when you start working from home. – If you notice your previously tried-and-tested habits leave you feeling too comfortable and you have trouble with trying to start your working day, try to implement new rules. Wearing your pajamas all day can make you feel like you’re permanently on vacation, try dressing in your regular work attire to see if it helps!
Set A Timeframe
One of the most important things when it comes to working from home is maintaining a well-defined schedule. You have to make it feel like actual work, instead of jumping between assignments and chores at home. It’s possible to stick to the classic 8-hour workday, but there’s the added flexibility of taking longer breaks or working for an overall longer time each day, divided by shorter rest periods.
If you have a hard time keeping up with this and your concentration is wavering, try to track your work time with an application. You may also discover that you’re more of a morning person than you thought, or the opposite way around – you much prefer working late while sleeping in during the day!
Separate Your Workspace
Keeping space for yourself in your home when you share it with other people can be a challenge. Don’t let this deter you from setting up a work corner for yourself, though. If it’s possible, designate this area for work only, and let others know that it’s important to keep distractions out of there as much as possible.
The people who are lucky enough to keep their jobs during the lockdown might need support when it comes to household chores by their family members, as well. What seemed normal to do in your spare time while you were working in an office will be a headache to schedule once you’re working from home. Make sure you ask for help when you need it, or prioritize what needs to be done so that you can fit the housework into your daily schedule comfortably.
Stop – It’s Break Time
Companies already accustomed to their employees working from home will have rules when it comes to breaks, such as software tracked lunchtimes or applications that track the time you spend working on the computer. While this is a guideline to go by, if you’re self-employed you might need to take matters into your own hands concerning downtime.
It’s okay to be liberal when it comes to an actual working day from home, but a well-spent break time will boost your productivity and help you avoid feeling burnt out. It’s not healthy to sit in the same location all day, so allow yourself a walk for a short break. Set your water bottle or coffee outside of your workspace, so you’ll have to walk to get it, breaking your concentration for a tiny bit and resetting it. It’s like a quick pick-me-up!
Change Of Scenery
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we have limited ways of going out of our houses in most countries. That’s not to say you have to stay indoors at all times, though. With spring coming up, taking a walk if its allowed and soaking up some sun can only do you good. As long as it complies with the lockdown rules in your country, getting some fresh air is something you should do daily!
You can make picking up your groceries an exercise, too, and appreciate the time you get to spend outside. Going for a quick run around your block while maintaining your distance from others is another option, as well!
Sort Out Your Work Equipment
Depending on the company you work for, getting the equipment necessary for working from home can be trickier than just taking your work laptop home and using your internet connection. If this is a sudden change in your company and you haven’t done this before, you should let your employer know that you might need more tools to do your job optimally.
You don’t need to go overboard when it comes to requesting things, but it’s okay to ask what they would be willing to provide. You might find that you need multiple monitors to work on, a printer or software you don’t already have at home, and in most cases, companies have a budget to spare to provide these for you. This might come as a welcome investment for them, too. The home office may still be trendy when things go back to normal, meaning you’ll already have the tools and the experience to do it efficiently!
When you don’t have the chance to work on a separate computer, that’s when things can get really tricky. It’s not easy to navigate between your personal files and social media, while effectively working on the same computer. If you can’t take your working computer home, consider setting up a separate account on your operating system, so you’ll feel like work has begun once you log into that.
Keeping yourself logged out of Facebook and turning off notifications will help you remove distractions as well. If it’s possible, use a separate monitor hooked up to your own laptop, when you’re working. These things will ensure you won’t be tempted to do leisurely activities while you’re supposed to work, even if it’s your own computer you’re working on.
Calls And Connectivity
If you frequently make phone calls while working, it’s important to keep that separate from your personal calls. Call center workers will surely have a separate number for their jobs that’s already in place, but if you just need to keep in touch with colleagues, it’s best not to do that from your own phone.
The reasoning behind this is not just the extra charges that may apply, but it’s simply more convenient to use your active internet connection to handle these calls. Skype, Google Voice or even discord are all great applications when it comes to reaching out via voice chat. Try these out if you need them, this way you can take your phone out of the equation – one less distraction for you!
Work On Keeping Your Connections
The current pandemic requires us to keep our distance from each other. But instead of calling it social distancing, what we should aim for is only physical distance. It’s imperative that you keep your work connections intact, as well as keeping in touch with your friends and family. Work friendships are just as valid and important as regular ones!
Finding the balance between too much online contact and just enough can be tricky. Maintaining a work-related group chat can be the way to go, as it lets you read through what everyone is up to at your own pace. Mute the notifications when you don’t need the distraction, but hop on it to catch up during your free time. It helps to stay productive and hopeful for when this whole lockdown is over – find strength in your existing social network!
Social Life In The Virtual World
For extroverts, it can be extremely hard to feel connected to their social circle just through chatting online. Feeling lonely and starved for human contact can severely impede your ability to work, but thankfully there are many ingenious ways to keep up with your social life!
From watching movies online together to playing multiplayer games, the possibilities are endless. Voice chat apps come in handy here, too, as well as video calls. Set the time each day when you put down the work and pick up something entertaining that can be shared through the internet with friends and family!
Working Through Sickness
This is something very important to keep in mind, and not just because of the pandemic. Working while you’re sick might seem like a good idea, seeing as you’re bed-ridden anyway – in reality, it’s rarely productive. If you are employed at a company while you’re working from home, don’t forget that you’re entitled to sick days – so use them if you need them!
Online Training Is On The Rise
If training was a regular thing when you were working at an actual office, it still can be a part of your daily routine while working from home. If you’ve noticed a decrease in the workflow, use your work-time to ask for additional training instead of just lounging around – you’ll be grateful for it in the long run.
Many companies offer free online courses that you can pick up on the side. If you find something that’s relevant for your current profession, ask your company to provide time for it during your working hours. One-on-one online training and face time meetings are excellent options to make you feel like you’re socializing, as well!
Take Notes And Communicate
Keeping your colleagues up-to-date about what you’re doing is something that needs special attention when it comes to working remotely. Things that are easy to explain in person might seem hard to write down. To avoid miscommunication, make sure you practice writing straight-to-the point texts and keep track of assignments in the form of shareable notes.
It’s better to say something multiple times than saying nothing at all. Be aware of your schedules, and let others know when something is completed. Point out your availability and have a group chat ready. Be ready to refer to your personal workboard, if someone misses something crucial – you’ll have a clear conscience this way if something doesn’t go as planned and proof that you’ve accomplished things.
Many things get lost in translation when it comes to online communication. Make sure you keep a professional, but friendly tone at all times. If it’s not inappropriate, you can even use emojis to express your positive attitude. Everyone can use a bit of friendliness during these tough times, even when it comes to a work-related online conversation!
End Your Day With a Routine
You need to unwind after a day of working from home, just as much as you used to when you were at the office. If you pick something to signal the end of your working hours, it will feel like a nice routine to keep in the long run, especially if it’s something that makes you happy. This could be watching an episode of your favorite series after closing your work laptop, or a quick exercise before dinner.
We hope these subtle ideas will help you enhance your at-home work routine. Remember to keep a positive attitude and stay safe during the lockdown!