Your alarm has gone off, a little later than most peoples. You hit it, get out of bed, and go make yourself a coffee and immediately check your emails. You sit at a desk (AKA the kitchen table) pausing to look longingly out the window. You are in our new normal. With COVID-19, and only essential services still working in the outside world, more and more of us find ourselves working from home. Some have worked from home for years, and it is no different than any other day. The majority of Canadians are newbies. Whether you need to stay motivated or are just looking for tips, we are here to help.
Create a Designated Work Area
Everyone has a different set up at home. Many do not have a home office. If you do, use it. If you don’t, set yourself up in the most comfortable, supportive chair that you have. Don’t set up in front of the TV unless you don’t have any other alternative. The goal is not to get distracted and focus on the task at hand. Keep the area clutter free. If you have to work at the kitchen or dining room table, keep essentials close at hand like notes, pens or your chargers so that you don’t have to look for them throughout the day.
Professional Tip – Get your area set up the night before, so that when you head to your work space, you are ready to go.
Stay Disciplined by Following a Routine
Get up at the same time that you would if you were commuting to work. Take a shower, get dressed even if it’s in yoga pants, and be ready to start work at the same time that you normally would if you don’t normally work from home. It sounds basic, but having a Monday-Friday routine is essential regardless of where you are working from. At some point, you may have to go back to working at an office. The transition will be easier if you keep a schedule.
If you already work from home, stick to your normal schedule. Get more dressed up for video meetings. If you take yourself seriously, then others will too. Many people workout at lunchtime; keep that up whether it is a video workout or at a gym when we are no longer self-isolating. Following a routine will help you stay motivated and on track.
Professional Tip – The reality now is that children or pets may cause distractions on video calls. If you have a partner that can help, ask them to look after the kids or Rover while you take your meeting. If you don’t, use the mute button where possible and let the other attendees know that you may have an interruption or two. Everyone is in the same boat right now and will understand.
Be Reasonable With Yourself
Working from home doesn’t mean working all day and all night. You still need to take breaks. Eat lunch, stay hydrated and walk around. You still need screen breaks. You may feel more isolated if you are used to working in an office environment, so “schedule” in time to connect with friends, co-workers and family during a designated break time or after “work”. As tempting as it may be to do housework, do that during a designated break. Laundry is easy during the workday or a small clean up, but spring cleaning is not.
Professional Tip – Stay in touch with your co-workers if you come from a bricks and mortar office. Reach out if you have questions. You are working from home, not working alone.
Technically, if you are working from home, you can start work as soon as you get out of bed. Take your commute time and spend it with your family or if you are alone, read, listen to music, or cook yourself breakfast. Keep your workday to your usual hours. Shutdown at the same time you normally would. Use that time for self-care or to catch up with family or friends. Working from home doesn’t mean working 24 hours.
Professional Tip – Remind your loved ones that working from home means working and you still don’t want to be interrupted during work hours.