In the current world climate of a global pandemic, many companies have transitioned to working from home. But there are many professionals, including myself, that have worked from home even before the emergence of COVID-19. Working from home can be a difficult transition, especially if it was sudden, but there are many tips and tricks that can make that transition smoother. Here are the top 5 that have worked the best for me.
1. Have a designated “office”
Designate a specific area in your house as your office. It may not be a completely separate room but it needs to be distinct enough from the areas in your house, such as your bedroom or living room. This is important because it allows for separation between work and places usually associated with leisure so that you’re not sitting in bed working at 8 pm when you are meant to have family or personal time.
2. Maintain work discipline
When you first transition from working in an office to working from home, keeping some of the same habits and structures could be helpful. For example, wake up at the same time and get ready as you would if you were going into the office. Then maybe take a quick walk or drive around your neighborhood. This not only gives you some time to get ready to work but also creates a separation between “work time” and “home time.”
3. Take a lot of breaks
Whether you realize it or not, working in an office presents you with many opportunities to take a break during your day. Sometimes it’s a quick chat with your favorite coworker, or maybe eating lunch out with your team, and some people even take the time to exercise during their workday. So when working from home it’s just as, if not more important, to take lots of breaks. Breaks are important as they give you time to decompress and refocus, so take some time during the day and go outside for a run or a walk, or spend a few minutes with others who might also be at home.
4. Be open and communicate
Working from home, you can often feel siloed. Sometimes this could be a good thing but oftentimes we need collaboration especially if you work as a part of a team. Problems are bound to arise, just as they do when you’re working from an office, and the best way to solve them is to have open communication with your co-workers. Make sure that you have other routes of communication besides just email because sometimes you need the “face to face” aspect of video calls or the immediacy of chat.
Oftentimes we don’t pay much attention to the random social interactions that we have during the day, but they are so important because they break up the monotony of work and keep our days feeling unique, otherwise one day would just blend into the next. So it’s no secret that working from home can quickly become lonely, especially if you don’t have others around the house during the day. But there are ways to combat this. Keep lines of communication with your coworkers open during the day using Slack, calls, texts, Zoom, or however your company chooses to communicate. Talk to them about their day or their weekend or their current Netflix show. Many companies have even incorporated morning coffee video kickoffs or virtual happy hours for those that may not be collocated or those that work remotely. But this doesn’t have to apply just to your coworkers. Take time during the day to talk with family or friends. Even a quick 5-minute conversation can be enough to fill up your social meter for the day.
Although it might not be realistic to incorporate all of these tips every day, I have realized that the days I do have been a lot more productive and have an overall more positive energy. Making and keeping the transition to working from home might not be easy, but these 5 tips should make it easier, more productive, and more enjoyable.