It’s hard to avoid news about the novel coronavirus that has been spreading rapidly over the past few months. The world is reacting to COVID-19 with major event cancellations, school closures, and travel restrictions to mitigate transmission of the disease. This includes many of our workplaces as more and more companies are now instructing their employees to work remotely. Before the outbreak, remote workers only made up around 3.4% of the US workforce, but that number is expected to change – quickly.
While it seems enjoyable, working from home does present its own challenges. It can be very easy to get distracted and virtual connections are not the same as face to face interaction. With that being said, when you need to work remotely, there are a few tips and tricks that can help make your time a bit more successful and productive.
Get Dressed in the Morning
Despite most celebrating the idea that remote work means you can work in your PJs, for some this could be a detriment. The clothing we put on influences our actions, and studies agree. When you wear work clothes, you maintain a work-focused mindset that allows you to perform better. Some even suggest wearing dress shoes as well. Aside from productivity, dressing for success also creates boundaries between your work and home life. By wearing a dress shirt or blouse during work hours and changing at the end of the day, you create a distinct physical and visual separation which can help reduce burnout.
Find a Dedicated Office Space
While the ideal situation would be that every remote worker had a home office, for a lot of us that isn’t feasible. Still, it’s important to have a separate space to use while you work to help keep your mind free of at-home distractions. Find an area, whether that be a specific seat at the dining room table or a dedicated spot on the couch that you only use when you’re on the clock. If you have a separate room with a door you can close, that would also set you up for success.
Create a To-Do List
Whether the distractions are coming from your dog, kids, a pile of laundry, or your significant other it can be very easy to lose focus when working from home. When you don’t get that face-to-face contact with your colleagues or supervisor, the spotlight is solely on the work you are producing. To make sure your output doesn’t go down, consider creating a to-do list at the beginning of each day outlining the work you plan to complete. Setting reminders on your calendar throughout the day can help you focus even more.
Go Beyond the Email
Feeling isolated when working remotely is a natural occurrence. To stay present, set up some time to check in with your team each day through videoconferencing services. Not everything can get done through an email and being able to grab some time to speak personally, even through virtual methods, does help. If your company has instant messaging tools, keep them turned on and stay logged in. Those one-off ideas that typically got discussed at the watercooler can happen online. By making an effort to stay present with your colleagues, you can mirror that in-person experience.
Take a Break
Staying productive is important, but don’t let yourself get stir-crazy. Schedule periodic breaks throughout the day to let yourself get a little fresh air. Walk the dog, run a quick errand, or eat lunch outside. Staying locked to your workspace will only make the day feel longer and more challenging. If you have a conference call, consider grabbing your headset and finding a quiet street or spot on your backyard to walk around. All of this will keep you more active which can spark more creativity and prevent you from being too overwhelmed.
Above all, remember that everyone works differently. Try out a few of these tips to see what works for you. As more companies mandate work from home policies amid the coronavirus outbreak, it’s important to communicate openly and frequently as everyone finds their own way to adjust to the change.