Many organizations have asked employees to work remotely during the coronavirus outbreak. If you've never worked from home, this can be a challenge. For those new to remote working, here are some tips on how to make it work.
- Cut yourself some slack. Working from home can be a big transition. You might feel any combination of lonely, isolated, stressed, frustrated, anxious, unmotivated, or -- on the other hand -- relieved, relaxed, energized, or productive. It's all OK and normal. Any transition takes time to get used to, so try to be easy on yourself.
- Take scheduled breaks. Try setting an alarm to get up and stretch every hour or so. (Standing desks, which at home may mean perching your laptop on top of a bookshelf, also pay large dividends for overall health.) Walk around your home while chatting on the phone with a friend. Move to a separate area -- away from your email -- to eat lunch for 30 minutes. Breaking up the day and moving your body enables you to refresh and can increase your productivity when you return to your work. When the weather is nice, I like to do conference calls while taking a walk outside.
- Protect your time. The concern many managers have about their employees working from home is that remote workers are really just doing laundry and bingeing Netflix. In my experience and observation, the opposite is usually true -- people tend to work more from home because it's harder to "leave" work. I worked from home for many years before moving into an office, and I definitely logged more hours when my job was in my home. Set "in office" hours and communicate these with both colleagues and family
- Protect your workspace. Talk to family members or roommates about the hours you are working from home and the ground rules during those hours. Assume that anything that can interrupt you will interrupt you -- like a UPS delivery during a critical negotiation call or a dog barking in the background of a client video chat. Be as proactive as you can about avoiding these kinds of incidents.I'm a fan of the scribbled "Do Not Disturb!" sign taped to my door.
- Turn on a white noise machine or app. This really helps to reduce noise distractions around your work area.
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