During the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, many companies are suggesting – or even mandating – all or certain groups of employees work from home until the spread of the virus can be slowed. For those who may not be used to working from home or being apart from their teams, the switch to virtual work can be quite an adjustment.
If your company is enacting a work from home policy to protect the health and safety of your employees and those around them, here are some helpful tips to stay productive – and mentally healthy – while working from home.
If you don’t have the right technology in place, working virtually will not be possible. First, ensure that you have the basics covered: bring your laptop, charger, mouse, keyboard home with you to help make the transition to working from home as seamless as possible. Then, make sure you’re equipped with the applications you need to work from home. That could include messaging apps like Skype or Slack, video conferencing software like Zoom or GoToMeeting. Ensure that everyone working from home is clear on what the preferred methods to stay in contact are for your organization or your specific team. Before beginning to work from home, it’s important to test your connectivity and ensure that everything you need is accessible from home.
Location, Location, Location
It’s important to have a space for working from home that will allow you to set your own boundaries. This means setting boundaries for children, pets, partners, roommates, etc. Encourage them to give you space while you’re working so that you can stay focused. Try to find a dedicated spot in your home that you can designate as your workspace – ideally a location that is not on the couch or in your bed! Treat your home office the same way that you would your actual office and discourage interruptions or intrusions to the best of your ability.
Talk to Me
Communicate now, more than ever. Discuss your working from home performance with your manager and ensure you’re clear on their expectations of you during this time. Make sure you stay connected via email, phone or instant messaging and keep any regular meetings you have scheduled while you’re working from home. Consider trying out video communications if you don’t normally use them – this can help you feel more connected at a time when social distancing is key. Remember that social interactions play a significant role in combating feelings of isolation and loneliness.
When Working From Home, Plan Ahead
Maintain your regular work hours and be sure to be available through phone, email and Skype – or whatever messaging platform you prefer – during that time. Take a few minutes at the end of each day to plan your priorities for the next day to help you stay on top of your schedule. In addition, when working from home it is important to have clear guidelines on when to work and when to call it a day to help maintain work-life balance. Putting your computer away at the end of the day can give you the space to recharge for the next day.
Break it Up
When you’re working from home, breaks are just as important as they are when you’re in the office. In addition, many people may find it helpful to stick to a structured daily schedule. That could include scheduling breaks, time away from your computer, playing with pets and eating meals. If it is possible and safe to do so, try to leave the house, talk a walk or get fresh air at least once during your workday. Avoid getting cabin fever while getting used to this new normal, even though it may be temporary.
Check in with your manager, team and others a couple of times a week if not more. Phone, email, Yammer and Skype – or any messaging platforms of your choice – are all great options to stay connected. In addition, using video chat or screen sharing functionality can help team members feel more engaged while working virtually. Employees who are working from home should know who to contact – like IT or a dedicated support team – if they need help with anything they need to work from home successfully.
To learn more about ways employers can respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, visit our Resource Center.