As the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) sweeps across the globe, preventative measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are being taken to reduce illness and slow the transmission of COVID-19.
Conferences and public gatherings are being canceled and postponed and many organizations are encouraging employees to work from home in an effort to keep the workplace, employees, and their families safe. And while working remotely has its perks—zero commute, music without headphones, avoiding the communal dishwasher—distractions and isolation can take some getting used to.
For office-based employees, a day of working from home can feel like a luxury when it’s infrequent. However, when a day becomes a week(s), working in pajamas on the couch with the TV on is not an environment conducive to productivity. Home is a sacred space but when you’re quarantined and expected to be productive, it’s easy to feel a bit stir-crazy within a few days.
Setting boundaries and finding a new routine is key to both your efficiency and sanity. As a full-time remote employee of five years, here are my do’s and don’t to help cultivate a productive working environment while working from home:
Set yourself up for success
To have a productive day at work, you have to set yourself up for a productive day at work. As tempting as it may be to roll out of bed, pour yourself some coffee and open up your laptop, save that routine for your weekends. Get out of your pajamas, brush your hair, and get ready for the day. You never know when a zoom meeting will pop up.
Create an “at-home” workspace
Your workspace is crucial to your productivity and working from bed, couch, recliner or porch swing is just not going to go well long term. You need to define the space in your house that will be where you get work done. As a remote worker in a small NYC apartment, my bedroom and couch are no-work zones. Instead, I have a desk with a monitor I can plug my laptop into by a window with natural light. No desk? Find a table or counter (near an outlet) where you can rest your laptop and a chair that allows you to sit up straight with your feet on the ground. Keep this space clean and your neck, spine and mind will thank you.
Do your important work first
Every morning I take a look at my calendar and growing to-do list and prioritize. Ask yourself: what is the most important thing for me to do today? Got it? Do it. As a remote employee on the East Coast with many of my co-workers based out of our HQ in Vancouver, BC, Canada, my mornings typically have fewer meetings than my afternoons. It’s the best time to be productive and why not start your day off on the right foot?
Don’t forget your steps
You can’t beat the commute when working from home, but for those who are used to commuting, especially in a city, you’re officially a lot more sedentary. This isn’t a good thing and something you’ll need to start actively thinking about. Every couple of hours, make sure you’re taking a break for at least 5-10 minutes and stretch your legs. Have a dog? Go for a walk! No dog? Take yourself around the block! Being in an office you don’t realize all of the steps you take to go to a meeting room, chat with a coworker or to refill your water bottle. Do your best to stay active.
Another perk of working remotely is also the biggest con. You don’t need to pack your lunch every day, score. Have kids? Maybe you get to spend more time with them. That’s great! However, this is where having boundaries is really important. No watching TV. No cleaning the garage. No repotting plants. Do your best to treat your workday the same as if you were going into the office.
This is one I have struggled with for a long time, and still do! Typically at an office, there is a time where everyone closes their laptops, says their goodbyes and commutes home for the day — which signifies the end of the workday. When working from home, there is no commute time for decompressing and it’s up to you to remove yourself for the day. Because I wrap up my day before the rest of my coworkers I also want to make sure I’m available to not slow down the team. I’ve learned though that your coworkers want you to have a life outside of work and they will let you know if the request is urgent. Personally, I like to take a scheduled workout class after work. It ensures I shut off my Slack/email, gets me active and signals to my mind and body that I am finished with work for the day. Sign off. Work-life balance, baby!
We’re here to help
If you’re new to working remotely, you’re going to be just fine. The current technology landscape allows teams to stay connected despite location or tools across the globe. Right now, we are adjusting the way that we engage, and I bet many of you are doing the same. Cognizant that many of our customers are dealing with both internal and external turmoil, all Tasktopians are doubling down on what’s needed to help everyone get through this. We are reaching out to our customers and asking them how we can best support their journey through this time — please don’t hesitate in reaching out to us.
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