Working From Home During a Pandemic

Working From Home

It’s no secret that Covid-19 has changed the way we live and work overnight – even if temporary. For most of us that means we are now working remotely and have been for a couple of weeks. Working from home during a pandemic is different than working from home under “normal” circumstances. Spouses who would usually be at the office are now working in the same house as you. Kids who would usually be in school or at daycare are now running through the house playing or attempting to e-learn. Below are some tips to help make this change a little easier to navigate.

Maintain Regular Hours – Set a Schedule

Working from home should still have so called “office hours” just as if you were heading into the office. Be sure to let your team members and coworkers know what your work hours are. It is understandable that your hours might be a little different working from home during a pandemic – kids might need you to make them lunch or help them with schooling during the day – Be communicative of these possible changes.

Try and start each day with a to-do list. Update it daily to ensure you are not losing sight of your priorities. During the course of your day set time limits for each task with alarms. This ensures that you are not getting lost in a task and spending too much time on it. When working from home it is important also to avoid work creep into your home life. Ensure that you have a hard limit at the end of your workday and when the day is over – walk away.

Keep a Morning Routine

If you normally get up in the morning and shower and get ready – do that. If you usually make yourself coffee and breakfast – do that. Keeping a morning routine will help get your mindset ready to have a productive workday. Avoid starting work in your PJs – the act of changing will help boost productivity and keep you from wanting to lounge around all day. There is a very large difference in one’s mindset between staying home all day, and working from home during the day. It is also important to be ready for that last minute meetings. In today’s virtual work environment working from home does not mean that no one will see you during the day.

Schedule Breaks Throughout Your Day

Be sure to take mini breaks throughout your day just as you would in the office. Take a walk or stretch do something to get your body moving – anything to clear your mind. These will help increase productivity and creativity in your work.

Create a Dedicated Office Space

This crisis has us hunkering down for the long haul at this point. The temporary setup on the kitchen table might not be the best option for a long term setup. Do your best to set up a desk and dedicated work space. Make certain that you have any office supplies you may need – pens & notepads are easily accessible when in the office, make sure you don’t get caught without something to take notes on! With most of the workforce being remote conference and video calls are the new normal. Practice conference line manners by muting when not speaking to avoid background noise on the calls.

Use Video Conferencing

In a time of crisis it is important to not lose the humanity aspect of our work. Staying connected via video chats is a way to feel less isolated. Use video conferencing to do a weekly check in with your team or host a virtual happy hour with your team or coworkers. During video calls it is important to be in a well lit room so people can see clearly. Also be sure to mind your background during these video calls!

Don’t forget to take lunch

Just because you are working at home doesn’t mean you should skip your lunch break! Use the time to do something for yourself. Being so close to your kitchen, it could start calling your name throughout the day not just during lunch time! If possible try to avoid having unhealthy snacks available in your house. Take the opportunity of being at home to try out new healthy recipes – make a lunch for yourself instead of snacking all day. If you do snack during the day – measure out a portion instead of taking a whole bag.

Set Clear Boundaries

Just as important as it is to walk away from work at the end of the day, it is important to walk away from life during the day and work. I know many people have distractions when it comes to work these days – roommates, spouses, kids and/or pets. For most people a simple sign on the door helps with communication as to when it is okay to enter your workspace and when it is not. For kids signs often get ignored – as do most things that are simply stated to them. For kids a more visual sign such as a stop sign: Red- do not enter, Yellow – enter if it is an emergency, enter quietly, Green – Feel free to enter. This is a great way to ensure that you are able to get work done and make sure that your family is taken care of.

Stay Aware of Security Risks

When working from home it is important to be just as vigilant as you are in the office when it comes to security risks – if not more! Cybercriminals have already ramped up phishing attacks in the month of March. It is vital that you are aware of who is sending emails to you – trust but verify any documents that are sent to you. Be aware of all internal company policies to ensure data protection – keep your desk clear even at home.

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