Working from home is usually thought of as a perk at most companies, but lately it’s become a requirement.
As the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the country and the world, many businesses have asked or required employees to work remotely.
Working from home can be fantastic. You don’t have to deal with a commute, a uniform, or the fuss of annoying colleagues. You might even be able to make your own schedule.
Here’s the thing though. It can be difficult to settle into the daily grind when you’re only moving from your bed to your desk and you have the option to stay in your pajamas all day.
Following are some tips on how you can harness all the positives of working from home to have productive and industrious workday during the pandemic:
Create an office space
Even if you aren’t lucky enough to have a home office, create an official workspace for yourself with everything you need, such as your laptop, phone, files, and whatever else. This will help get you into the working mindset when you’ve got to get down to business.
Even if it’s just a desk in the corner or your tidy kitchen table, having a proper workspace is much better than flopping down on the couch while you work.
Getting dressed in the morning is a signal that the day has begun and you’re officially “on,” something which is easy to forget when you work from home. You don’t have to put on a suit and do your hair, but by putting your pajamas away and changing into something fresh, even if it is a fresh pair of sweatpants, you’re telling your brain that work is about to begin.
Research suggests that this simple change can trigger much higher productivity in-home workers.
Don’t eat where you work
Make sure to set apart time for lunch and get away from your workspace when you aren’t working. Make an effort to eat elsewhere, and get out of the house on your breaks when possible, so that you return to work with fresh eyes.
Don’t sit down and eat in front of your computer and browse the internet. It can make it harder to get back on track.
Play office sounds
Working at home lets you have more freedom than you would in an office; you can chat to whoever else is at home, play music out loud, or even sink into the silence of an empty house. But these things can easily become distractions. Try sticking in your headphones and listening to office sounds on YouTube. The familiar sounds of a work environment will put you in the right mindset for a productive day.
Can’t go to a coffee shop because you’re social distancing or your usual spot is closed? Check out Coffitivity, an app that plays the sounds of your favorite java joint.
Go for a Walk
When in doubt, go for a walk if you can. While officials are recommending socially distancing, you can still take a walk outside by yourself to clear your head, and also get your blood flowing.
Make sure your internet connection works
Make sure you test your internet connection before you really start working from home. If you regularly have problems with your internet, you might think about setting up a mobile hotspot so that you can connect to the internet wif you experience any outages.
You can typically purchase a hotspot plan through your cell phone provider, allowing you to hook up to the internet almost anywhere, or you can buy a mobile hotspot online. A hotspot is basically a portable internet router which allows you to use data from your cellular plan to connect your laptop or computer to the internet remotely.
A lot of companies require a Virtual Private Network (VPN) in order for employees to securely access programs and files outside the office. If you need to set up a VPN to work from home, make sure you set it up before you set up a home office.
Make sure you’re able to video conference
People have spent 5.5 million minutes in meetings on Cisco’s video conferencing platform in March, according to Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins. And that’s just one platform.
As more people work from home, you may need to rely more on video conferencing technology. Download any video conferencing tools your company might use such as Google Hangouts, Zoom, or Skype.
If you don’t have a webcam, you may also want to order one online. Seeing your coworkers, and vice versa, can help everyone feel more connected in a virtual workplace.
Also, consider creating a designated place where you take video calls so that you’re not interrupted by roommates or loved ones. And keep co-workers aware of any background noise or distractions on their end of the video calls.
One of the biggest killers of productivity when working from home is letting yourself get away with procrastination. When there’s no one watching you or checking up on your work, it’s easy to sit back and spend the afternoon watching videos or hanging out in bed.
Try setting up a reward system for yourself while you work for home. Tell yourself you’ll go for a walk or watch that video once you finish a certain task.
You might also want to consider setting up a daily or weekly check-in with your manager or team to hold yourself accountable. You’ll probably stay on track with your tasks if you know you’ll be checkin in with a manager regularly.
If you live with loved ones or roommates, help each other stay accountable by not distracting one another and encouraging each other to stay focused.
Test out some free time management apps such as Rescue Time which provides reports on how you’re spending time on your computer, or Remember The Milk which helps with project management. Make sure you attend all of your meetings, even if they’re virtual meetings.
By getting your routine into shape, you’ll be getting work done while also loving your workspace.