Social distancing is one of the most effective preventive measures we can take to keep ourselves and others safe and be socially responsible in the current Covid environment. Due to this, many workplaces have quickly instilled work-from-home policies.
It can be quite a transition to go from working in a social office setting to a work-from-home situation, and I actually made this transition myself about a year ago. I thought it would be helpful to share some of my biggest learnings and tips for staying productive and positive while working from home.
1. Have a schedule
Keeping a set schedule is key to staying productive and not overworking. It’s important to structure your day and have set working hours. Not doing so when work is easily accessible and convenient can lead to working longer than you would in an office setting. Alternatively, it’s also easy to get distracted by tasks/others at home and not get enough done during the day, needing to work later into the evening, so it’s important to create structure through a calendar and to stick to it.
2. Take breaks
Another part of a work schedule that can easily fall away without colleagues to chat with and coffee shops to stroll to, is taking breaks and refreshing yourself, so make sure to build these into your schedule as well. If possible, step away and go for a stroll, or at least have a stretch.
A steep downturn in physical activity was a negative effect I noticed when my routine changed to working from home. But I quickly realized that I actually had more freedom to incorporate physical activity now that I worked from home and try to plan and take a stroll during a conference call or at least get up and get some stretching or pacing in.
Also build in snacks and meals, to avoid the potential of grazing all day. As a snacker, I definitely struggle with this one, as the accessibility of all your food can be tempting. But the upside is that you can have more nutritious, affordable meals, without the struggle of transporting them to work.
3. Get Ready for the Day
When we first think of working from home, one of the most appealing aspects can be the ability to lounge in our pyjamas while working, but I definitely caution against this for optimal productivity. I make a point of getting dressed and ready daily, even if I have no in-person meetings. I feel my most productive when I’ve done this and while I may not get as ready or dress in business attire, I make sure to get out of my pyjamas and pull myself together. This also makes it easier to pop out for the stroll I strive to get in.
4. Designate a workspace
This is a challenge for me, as I live in a small downtown condo, but it’s key to being productive in your work, but also relaxing and shutting of work when you finish the day. It’s important to not set up shop on your living room sofa, as it’s not a place that makes you feel mentally alert and bringing the stress of work to a spot you used to relax in will blur that line and make it harder for you to feel relaxed there when you’re finished working. Ideally, pick a spot in your home that you can walk away from and not have to see your work once you’re “off the clock”.
It’s also important to have a set up that is comfortable for your body and allows for good posture. Take the time to create a system for organizing your paperwork and having supplies you need handy, to avoid needing to get up unnecessarily and risk getting distracted. You may be in this office setup for a few weeks, so take a little time to create a productive set-up.
5. Communication is Key
One thing I personally find very difficult about working from home is the solitude. I truly miss the camaraderie and social aspect of physically being near my colleagues and going for coffee and lunches together. But I also miss the ease of communication and being updated on each others’ work, being able to bounce ideas of each other, or having a quick chat to de-stress.
Good communication is key to continue to feel connected. It’s important to schedule regular touch points with your colleagues and include each other on pertinent emails. And to simply pick up the phone to have a chat when needed.
I hope you find these tips helpful. I’m personally an introverted homebody so don’t find this current social distancing very difficult. But for those that are finding it very isolating and lonely, it might be good to shift perspectives and think of it as a time of solidarity and all of us being in this together…just from our own homes ;).