Small Business Tips

Working from Home: the New Normal

During the Coronavirus Pandemic Outbreak, many companies have switched to a work from home policy. Working from home can be pretty lonely in this era of social distancing, but it doesn’t have to be. For those who are not used to working at home or who don’t have an organized workstation, distractions can disrupt your productivity. After all, you’ve now taken over your personal space. You’re no longer in your usual professional environment. Laundry needs to be done. House needs to be cleaned. Kids need to be taught and cared for. Pets are needy. Plus, you want to stay up to date on the latest news about COVID-19, and when you’re tired of that, there are the latest shows on Netflix you’ve been meaning to catch up on. Or, on the opposite side of the coin, maybe since being home 24/7, you find yourself working overtime on the job long after you would normally have left the office.  

Even if you’ve done it before, working from home because of Coronavirus might feel like a whole new world. It was sudden, everyone is home, and everything is closed – so you really don’t have the choice to escape, get out, or socialize in person outside of work.

Here are some tips to help make sure that you’re successful at both getting your work done and maintaining your mental well-being:

  1. GET DRESSED

It might seem like a simple tip, but it is a crucial one. You don’t need to dress as formally as you would to go into the office. It’s tempting to stay in your pajamas all day but giving in to the temptation can prove to provide a slower start and less productive day. The simple act of changing your clothes signals that it’s time to wake up, start your day and get things done.

Getting dressed includes things like taking a shower, brushing your hair, even putting on makeup if that’s something you’d usually do. You don’t need to do all the things you would normally do if you were going into the office but waking up and taking care of your appearance can go a long way.

  1. DESIGNATE A WORKSPACE OR HOME OFFICE – SET PHYSICAL BOUNDARIES

One of the biggest challenges people are faced with when it comes to working remotely is separating their work and home lives. If you never fully disconnect from work, your work productivity will suffer, and your home life will tend to suffer as well.

When you’re used to going into an office, there’s a physical separation between home and office. In the same way, you want to try to recreate as much of a physical boundary as possible – designate a physical workspace, whether it’s an area or a home office space.

  1. PREPARE YOUR WORKSPACE OR HOME OFFICE

Make your workspace as comfortable as possible. Find an area with good natural lighting. Although you might not regularly spend a lot of time outdoors, losing your drive time can quickly weigh on you if you don’t get a little bit of sunlight.

Prepare your work area with all the necessary items you need to work from home – from pens, sticky notes & calculators to custom letterhead, envelopes, notepads and business cards. Having a clean, well-lit, well-stocked and properly laid out workspace can prove to be essential to a productive workday.

  1. KEEP CLEARLY DEFINED WORK HOURS

In the same way that you are setting physical boundaries in designating your workspace, you should be clear about your work hours. You will get your best work done if you stick with a regular set of hours. If your role is collaborative, then being on the same schedule as your coworkers make everything much easier.

The biggest difference between working from home and working in an office is that you are in charge of your environment. You have to hold yourself accountable for the amount of time you are able to put in. But also recognize when you find that you’re overextending yourself because you aren’t doing anything or because people can continuously reach you at all hours. You have to tell yourself and others, it’s time to put work away, recharge, and restart in the morning.

If you live with others or if you have children, you will need to figure out a schedule. Communicate with your family or the people you live with. Establish boundaries so you can cut down on distractions during the workday – and then disconnect at the end of the day to give the people you care about your full attention.

  1. SET BOUNDARIES – DISCOURAGE PERSONAL INTRUSIONS

When you’re in a normal workplace, personal intrusions are discouraged and frowned upon. Friends don’t just stop by the office to chat, hang out or interrupt your work. However, when you’re working from home, well-intended friends, family members and neighbors think the situation is somehow different. Interruptions and drop-ins can cause you to lose focus, procrastinate or get behind on a deadline. It’s important to prevent intrusions into your workspace. Let people know that you’re unavailable during work hours. But remind them that you are available to connect after hours.

  1. COMMUNICATE

It’s probably best to utilize video communications now, more than you normally would. This is a great way to stay connected to your team members or office mates. Make sure you have your company’s telecommuting device ready and connected to communicate and set up video calls, meetings, teleconferences and more. Make plans to meet on a regular basis and share creative ways you’ve adjusted to the new situation.

Some of the most useful and popular telecommuting devices:

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