It seems like virtually overnight the world has turned into a work-from-home work force. You may be familiar with working from home occasionally, or maybe not at all. If you’re new to working remotely 100% of the time, this could be a significant adjustment.
You may not have been prepared to turn your living space into your workspace for the foreseeable future. Suddenly that spare bedroom, dining room, kitchen, or closet has turned into a home office, and you find yourself on video calls in your new dress down work attire—pajamas. Your spouse and kids are also home, which can make things, well, a bit crowded.
If you enjoyed having daily social interaction with co-workers, feelings of isolation and loneliness could set in. So how can employees continue to compartmentalize their work and non-work lives, given the extraordinary situation that so many of us are in today? How can we “leave our work at the door” if we are no longer going out the door? Given this is the “new normal,” here are a few tips for working remotely that could make your experience less stressful and more productive.
Set up Shop
For all University of Louisville faculty and staff, Technology Solutions has a step-by-step instruction sheet for connecting from home. Gather all the things you need to be most productive. Contact the help desk if you get stuck.
Setting up a designated home office or work corner (not your bed!) can help you be more productive and stay on task. If it’s available, a room with a door. Little things can help your productivity, too. A decluttered space with your favorite pen and a few family photos or desk keepsakes can help you feel “at home” with your new workspace.
A straight-back wooden chair with no cushion can wreck your back. If you don’t have anything appropriate, order an office chair to be delivered. It will be worth the money. Use good posture and make sure you have a wrist wrest for your keyboard. Get up every hour or so for five minutes to stretch.
Get into a Routine
Shower, brush your teeth and dress as if you are going out even if you are not. Formal work attire not necessarily required but changing out of pajamas can go a long way to making you feel like a functioning adult.
Make a plan for each day and motivate yourself by setting goals or mini-goals to structure your day
Walk the dog, stand and stretch, go get the mail or take out the garbage
Don’t skip – this is fuel your body needs
Have a video conference with your regular lunch mates you are missing or hit up a co-worker for a virtual chat or a text conversation.
Use social tools like Microsoft Teams so your work team can feel more connected to one another. Send one another funny memes or uplifting stories. Have a virtual office pizza party one day.
Limit social media if it’s not part of your core responsibilities
Unplug from the news
Turn off pop-up notifications to maintain focus
Let your children know you are working for a certain period or will be on a meeting or call (This will help them be perfect angels and not bother you on a call LOL J )
Music or TV
Some people find music, white noise, background television or classical music helps to set a rhythm for their productivity. Others need silence. Whatever is more relaxing for you is the thing to do.
Strategize If you’re home with your family, have a morning meeting to strategize a plan of attack for how to share the internet for meetings and schoolwork and calls.
Make time to call or video chat with family and friends when the work day is done. Zoom Happy Hours are popular for a reason. Human connection is important for mental, emotional and physical health.
Listen to music or books on tape or just to the birds outside
Stretch out that Netflix binge by watching one episode a week of a favorite show so you have something to look forward to
Pursue something new
Want to brush up on cooking skills or dust off your French from high school or paint the trim? The internet has virtually unlimited resources to learn or pursue DIY projects.
Take time to reflect on your goals or explore your spirituality. What can you learn about yourself during this time?
Get outside at least once a day or sit in front of windows with sunlight. Benefits of natural light include it’s easier on the eyes, decreases depression, improves mood, energy and alertness and increases productivity.
Keeping your home relatively tidy helps many people function better but don’t use housework as a way to procrastinate more important work tasks.
Drink water and eat well balanced meals
Beware of idle snacking. Are you really hungry? You may just be restless, bored or anxious. Stock healthy snacks for munching – chopped veggies and yogurt, apples and peanut butter
Refill prescriptions on time so as not to miss any doses of needed medications
Connect with your regular lunch mates you are missing by video conference
Apps and virtual classes have exploded since the pandemic. Even 10-20 minutes of jumping jacks, squats and pushups can bring endorphins to help with your mental and physical health. Here are a few recommended apps for home exercise. Brisk walking around your neighborhood or in nearby woods also counts AND has the added bonus of getting you out of the house.
Technology Free Zones
Find one tech free zone in your work from home place – on a porch or deck, in your bedroom
Be Kind to Yourself
Working from home is hard, and stay at home orders can exacerbate your feelings. You may feel any combination of lonely, isolated, stressed, frustrated, anxious, unmotivated, or on other days — relieved, relaxed, energized, or productive. It’s all OK and normal. Any transition takes time to get used to, so try to be easy on yourself. We’re all in this together and we’ll get through it together.