Best Practice: Working From Home

Many businesses are implementing mandatory or voluntary work-from-home policies because of COVID-19. For most people, working from home is a great way to avoid a daily commute and enjoy a more flexible schedule. However, stopping regular trips to the office could make your job more difficult, especially if you're making that change in the middle of a pandemic. Here are some tips to help you stay productive and excel at your job while working from home.

Get Regular Exercise

Exercising regularly can lower stress and make concentrating on your work easier. It also improves your immune system and prevents weight gain, heart disease, and many other health problems. Use some of the time you would normally spend commuting to take a walk around your neighborhood, go jogging or biking, or visit a local park or botanical garden.

You can also take a break for some physical activity after lunch or join an online exercise class. Getting your body moving and spending some time outdoors in natural light will help you avoid feeling sluggish after you wake up. It will also help you feel less claustrophobic while working remotely. Encourage your kids to exercise with you to help them get rid of extra energy and stay calm for the rest of the day. Just make sure to practice social distancing, wear a mask if it's required in your area, and wash your hands often.

Establish a Routine

For many people, remote working comes with a flexible schedule. That means you can sleep in, enjoy a long lunch, or take care of errands whenever you want to. However, it also makes it easy to procrastinate by watching a few episodes of your favorite show or doing your laundry instead of your latest work project. Keeping a regular schedule will help you focus on work during the work hours you choose and relax at other times.

Make sure your boss, coworkers, family members, and roommates know when you plan to work. That way, people at work won't expect replies to emails when you're not working, and individuals at home will know when they need to let you focus on your job. Working at the same time as most of your coworkers also makes it easier to attend meetings and collaborate on projects.

Even if you don't plan to leave your house, follow as much of your regular routine as possible. Start and end work at the same times every day, and take a shower and get dressed before you start to prepare for the day ahead. Looking good can increase your confidence, help you feel good, and make you seem more polished during video meetings. When you finish your workday, you can relax by changing into more comfortable clothing.

Create a Space That's Just for Work

You should have a comfortable, quiet place where you can work with minimal interruptions. When you're not at work, stay away from that space. You can place a desk or small table in your basement or attic, transform a spare bedroom into a home office, or use part of another room.

Adding room dividers or privacy screens around your workspace will help you avoid distractions and separate the space from the rest of your home. It can also keep your coworkers from seeing clutter or kid's toys during Zoom calls. Make sure you have a comfortable chair, an outlet for your laptop, internet access, and everything else you need nearby. If possible, open your curtains or blinds to let in natural light and help you stay alert. You can also play music to drown out distracting noises.

People who sometimes use the space where they work for tasks like teaching kids and eating dinner should end each workday by putting away their computers and other work-related items. This helps them avoid working outside of their normal schedule.

Get Help When You Need It

If you're working remotely, you may not have time to fulfill all of your job's regular duties while taking care of kids and completing household chores. Instead of trying to manage everything on your own, ask your family members for some extra help. You can also use different types of software to increase your productivity while working from home.

During busy workdays when you can't afford to be disturbed, hire a nanny, babysitter, or dog walker. If you feel stressed or overwhelmed, let your boss know that you need a short break or some assistance with your workload.

Remember To Sleep

Most people need seven to nine hours of sleep per night to maintain their physical and mental health. Missing sleep can make you feel anxious, depressed, and fatigued. It will also keep you from doing your best work. To make sure you get enough sleep, you should go to bed at around the same time every night, whether it's a weekday or a weekend. Instead of staying up late to finish a big project, get some rest and pick up where you left off in the morning.

Avoid watching television or using your phone in bed, and don't drink anything with caffeine for a few hours before you go to sleep. You should also stay away from snacks for at least an hour before bed. If noises from outside wake you up often and keep you from getting a good night's sleep, try using a white noise machine.

Don't Try To Multitask

Many people struggle with successfully doing more than one thing at the same time. When you multitask by composing an email during an online meeting, listening to your voicemail while checking your email, or watching TV while you work, you won't be able to concentrate fully on either task. Your work will take longer, and you could make more mistakes. To do your best work, focus on one task at a time.

With these tips, you can make working from home easier and less stressful. Did we miss any of your favorite work-from-home tips? Reach out and let us know so we can add them to our list!

Image credit: Flickr by James G. Milles