With the current concerns around COVID-19, many of us have found ourselves in a position in which we are now being asked to work from home for the next several weeks. Working from home can be an amazing experience but it also has its own unique situations and challenges. Whether it is noisy housemates, children excited that you are home during the day and want to play, refrigerator full of delicious food, or you accidentally working at all hours, working remotely can make finding a good work/life balance challenging. Here are 3 things you can do to help ensure your success when working from home.
Create Visible Work Boundaries
Some of us have worked from home on the couch and it is a wonderful experience; however, when you are working from home full time, your comfy couch can start to feel like a work cage that you can never escape, even when you are bingeing your favorite tv show!
To counter these feelings, you’ll want to set up some space that is just intended for work– an area in which you can work and either close off or leave when the work day is over. Ideally, this would be a spare room (or an office) but over the years I have seen people successfully use their basements, pantries, closets, garages, patios, and breakfast nooks.
Creating such a visible space can help housemates, partners, and even children better understand that this is a place for work and,when you are in it, you are unavailable (to hangout, play, chat or do any household work). Additionally, this space will have the added benefit of feeling like a place of work, enabling you to better focus during work hours and at the end of the day, physically separate from your work space.
Make Healthy Choices
It is so easy when working remotely to blur the lines between your life and work; these tips below can help you maintain mental and physical health while working from home.
Schedule Breaks. Research has shown that taking breaks can actually help us be more efficient and effective by replenishing our energy. The best breaks are the ones that completely shift your focus from your work. Consider taking a walk, going for a quick run, or meditating; these are all excellent ways to help work off stress and refocus your mind. Checkout the app called Stand Up! which can help remind you to take breaks and keep moving.
Eat Healthy. With your refrigerator being only steps away, it can be easy to eat too much throughout the day or eat junk food. To help combat this, create a menu which limits you to a few healthy snack options; when you get hungry, make a choice between these (and do not go exploring in your fridge or pantry). This will help you fight your junk food cravings for those chips or candies!
Exercise. This is always important but even more so when you work from home. To help you reinvigorate your body, a quick workout can really help you focus and maintain your personal health. There are several excellent free apps such as Nike Training Club and HIIT Workouts that provide a number of different short workouts, from yoga to strength conditioning, that you can easily do from home.
Get Social (from a distance)
Just because we are working from home and practicing good social distancing doesn’t mean we cannot still be social. In this age, we have many different technologies to leverage to stay connected.
Virtual Lunches. If you love having your lunch with a colleague or a friend, consider using Hangout, Zoom, Google Meet, Facetime or even Skype to connect and share a meal together, virtually. This can seem weird at first but it is a great way to spend your lunch breaks catching up with colleagues/friends that you haven’t seen in a while. It can be a fun and unique experience that allows those of us who need social interactions to feel fulfilled.
Connecting via Slack. Setup/join specific slack channels on topics that are interesting. Consider sharing recipes or book suggestions during this time with your colleagues. There are several apps on Slack that are designed to bring people together such as Donut.
Daily Huddles. Consider doing daily huddles with your team to give everyone an opportunity to connect at a virtual water cooler. You can have it be freeform or have a specific theme for each meeting to help break the ice.
Working remotely can be daunting, but if you follow the above suggestions you may find it to be quite enjoyable and not want to go back to the office. These suggestions are taken from personal experiences and discussions I’ve had with other remote employees over the years. It’s not one size fits all, so do some exploring to find out what works best for you. There are many other incredible resources out there that speak specifically about working remotely which you can find via an internet search. Stay safe while we practice social distancing, and enjoy the remote life!
Director of Customer Support at Illuminate Education, Inc
Icons are from Noun Project: Work from Home by IconTrack, Healthy by Becris and Vibe by Andrejs Kirma