If you’re working from home during COVID-19 pandemic, you might feel a little unsure how to navigate the new landscape and still remain productive. Even if you planned to start your own business and escape the rat race, you might not yet be ready for that move. Suddenly, you’re thrust into a situation where you have to deliver results in a new way and with equipment you might not be familiar with.
Fortunately, Rat Race Mutiny is here to help. Not only have I worked from home for over 25 years, but I have a wide range of contacts who have as well. I surveyed 25 different friends and family members who either work from home all the time or are working remotely during COVID-19 shutdowns.
The results uncovered some of the best tips I’ve ever heard for working from home during COVID-19 pandemic or anytime. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed and stressed out from working from home during the pandemic, these tips should get you back on the right track.
Space for Working from Home During COVID-19 Pandemic
- Set aside a dedicated space for work only, even if it’s a corner of your kitchen table.
- Make sure your internet is up to speed. Upgrade your service if needed.
- Surround yourself with things that inspire you.
- Have a blank wall in mind for call meetings where you might be on video.
- Consider the noise level in the home and where might be a quiet space to work.
- A small table can serve as a temporary desk.
- Use a countertop for standing desk space.
- Keep liquids and heat away from your electronics.
Working from Home During COVID-19
Working from home isn’t easy during the best of times, but the coronavirus outbreak makes it particularly difficult. Both spouses may be working from home and the children might school from home as well. Juggling everything is beyond stressful. Here are 10 tips for working from home during COVID-19 to keep in mind.
1. Get Dressed Every Day
It’s tempting to stay in your pajamas all day. In fact, that can be one of the perks of working from home. However, if you have a last minute meeting, you won’t have time to look your best. Getting dressed and looking your best helps set the right tone for the work day. You’ll feel more professional and achieve more.
2. Set Work Hours and Time Off
One thing the people I surveyed said was that their bosses were not respecting their personal time. Now that they’re at home, leadership feels they should be available extended hours. One respondent said her boss has called her as late as 11 o’clock at night. She starts her workday at 8 a.m., so she felt that was unreasonable.
“I don’t mind working hard and a few extra hours to keep things running. But, working 15-hour days isn’t feasible.”
Set some boundaries and guard your time off. Be flexible, but expect your employer to be reasonable.
3. Reduce Distractions
We live in a stressful time. Experts can’t seem to agree on safety protocols, economies are on the brink of crashing, and the death tolls keep rising. Make a commitment to turn off the television or radio and avoid social media during work hours. If part of your work involves social media, try to steer away from posts concerning major issues surrounding COVID-19 virus.
4. Set Routines
When you commute to work, you likely have a few routines to prepare for the day. You might stop and get a coffee or listen to a podcast. Unwinding after work may look similar. Now, you no longer have commute time, so you must find new transitions into and out of the day.
Try morning prayer, a coffee tradition or even putting on a special jacket or listening to your favorite podcast. Make sure you unwind when you’re done for the day or you might carry the stress of work into family time.
5. Ask Family to Respect Your Work Hours
This is a battle I’ve had for many years. I work the same hours every day year after year. Yet, people still call me in the middle of the day. I’m a writer, so when someone texts or phones, it does distract me and reduces my productivity. Those same people get mad or worried if I don’t take their calls.
You may have to train people over time and figure out where your own boundaries are. Explain that you’re working during certain hours and won’t take phone calls.
6. Socialize with Co-Workers
On the job, you have breaks and a lunch hour and may spend time with your co-workers. There is a connection between different people that helps you get tasks done and offers a social outlet. When you’re working from home alone, you miss this element.
Some things you can do include setting up a mango group for your department, meeting in a Google room or hosting Zoom happy hour. Touch base with people you already have a connect with by shooting them a private message or text.
7. Avoid Deliveries During Work Hours
Most families are getting deliveries right now to avoid exposure by going out. If you have groceries or anything else getting delivered, schedule for outside working hours. Another option might be to schedule the drop off for your lunch hour, so you have time to receive it, sanitize items and put them away.
8. Invest in Productivity Trackers
Set up an account on HubStaff or another activity tracker and pay attention to your stats. Your work may invest in this now or at some point in the future to make sure remote employees continue to work at optimum levels.
If you notice any weaknesses in your efforts, read articles or take online classes to improve.
9. Take Breaks
Some studies show taking frequent breaks actually helps you be more productive and look at things with fresh eyes. Don’t sit and work non-stop for 8 hours. At a place of work, you’d likely take at least lunch and a couple of breaks throughout the day. Set a timer if you need to, but take breaks every so often.
10. Set Rules for the Whole Family
You may need to set up some structure if everyone is home. The kids need to participate in e-learning, but you should check they are doing their independent work and be there if they have a question. You also need to get your own work done. Set up a tag team with you and your spouse, or bring in a nanny to help if needed. You may need to think creatively and adjust your work hours a bit to accommodate school schedules.
Even if it feels like a challenge right now, you can learn to love working from home. Set some boundaries, create routines and be grateful for the saved time commuting back and forth to work. When the restrictions are lifted, you may find you love working from home so much that you work out some remote options or become your own boss.