So your office has declared that everyone will have to work from home. Maybe you’re experienced with remote work—or maybe this is an unusual situation for you.
If you’re not used to remote work, and your employer has asked you to work from home in order to provide social distances and quell the spread of the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19, you might be a little confused right now. At Zeel, we want to make sure you’re as comfortable and productive at home as possible, so we’ve put together some advice and resources for working from home.
Don’t shake up your routine hours
Keep the same hours that you did in the office, advises the New York Times. Log off and end your workday when you typically do—it’s as easy to overwork when you’re at home as it is to procrastinate. That’s because you’re missing the cues that you get from commuting—the place you get your coffee, that train or car ride to the office. And when a free moment strikes late at night, it’s so tempting to crack open the laptop and answer just one more email. Resist, or you’ll find yourself more prone to burnout and stress.
Create your own home office
Create a separate space at your home instead of sitting on your couch or bed, if possible. This puts your brain in “work mode.” Even a kitchen table can work if set up properly. Make sure you have good light and adequate outlets.
Yes, go ahead and take that shower, even if you’re not setting foot outside for the next 14 days. “Washing your face and brushing your hair helps too because let’s be real—looking into the mirror and seeing at least a semi-awake human will help you feel a bit less lazy,” says The Candidly.
Get dressed. Decently
And yes, get dressed, as if you are going outside the house, or even to work. Public-facing clothing has “symbolic meaning,” improving your focus and productivity, according to psychological studies. You might even want to wear shoes!
Upgrade your camera for your laptop or PC
Welcome to the world of video calls. You might want to upgrade your at-home camera—after all, that’s how you are going to be appearing to your coworkers on a daily basis. Yes, sometimes you can turn off the camera, but some companies want everyone to be on video. Here are a few good home PC video camera choices.
You won’t be able to rely on face to face communication when you are working at home. That means you should overcommunicate on the forums available to you—Slack, email, Asana—whatever your company uses. If you need to step away from the computer, let your coworkers know that you’re at lunch or on a short break and when you’ll be back, so they don’t think you’ve evaporated into thin air. While communication is more likely to be asynchronous when it’s not face to face, make times to “be” together—like a video chat over lunch. “You can find your own unique way to create team spaces for social connection. How you do it is less important than whether you do,” advises the Harvard Business Review in its guide to remote communications at work.
Get your Vitamin D
Don’t neglect your wellness. Spending a lot of time indoors can make you vitamin D-deficient, leading to loss of energy and problems absorbing calcium. Take supplements, or just go outside and enjoy the weather (following CDC social distancing protocol, of course).
Any change in your routine can be stressful, compounded now by worries about staying healthy, getting work done, and sourcing toilet paper. Don’t forget to maintain balance and calm. Go for an early morning walk or run, try mindfulness at home, call a friend, get a good night’s sleep.
Meet your new at-home colleagues
If you have kids and your schools are closed, you may be working around children much more than you’re used to. Poynter has some great advice for working from home with children, but to summarize: wear babies, tag team (if possible) with toddlers and take advantage of naptime, and explain to older children that even though you are home, you are actually working (and make good use of the mute button).
If you have animals at home, you may wish to find some clever ways to distract pets, as dogs, cats, and other domestic critters are not known for their grasp of personal space.
We wish you health and wellness, and who knows? You might learn to love working from home—a Stanford study shows that people who work from home tend to be happier, and may be more productive as well.
Marcy is the SVP of People and Communications at Zeel. In addition to overseeing the humans of Zeel, Marcy has written about workplace topics for more than 20 years both at Zeel and as VP of Content for Vault.com, a career information web site and publisher.