The Work From Home Survival Guide

Here are tips and recommendations to help employees remain productive and tackle the challenges of suddenly working from home.

As COVID-19 spreads through the United States, with 1,000 cases and counting, more and more people are being told to work from home or self-quarantine as a way to 'flatten the curve' and slow the spread of the virus in order to keep hospitals and doctors’ offices from becoming overwhelmed with sick patients.

Aside from curfew guidelines, one practice that’s being encouraged the most is that of social distancing – avoiding physical contact, staying home, and canceling big gatherings.

Businesses are also encouraging social distancing by encouraging or mandating their employees to work from home. For introverts – individuals who feel drained after socializing and regain their energy by spending time alone – this is their dream scenario.

Extroverts, on the other hand, gain energy from other people. Extroverts actually find their energy is sapped when they spend too much time alone. They recharge by being social.

Wherever you fall on the scale, the following tips and recommendations will help you remain productive and tackle some of the biggest challenges with suddenly having to work from home – keeping your routine, managing time, loneliness, and communicating with coworkers.

If you’re a parent with young kids at home, I will defer to this article to provide additional recommendations and solutions for you.

Here are few remote work tips gathered from around the web, social media, and from my own personal experience:

Create A Designated Workspace

If you don’t have one already, I highly recommend creating a space specifically dedicated to work. When I started my company five years ago, my workspace was in my bedroom which was also the master bedroom. So I never needed to leave unless I was going to the kitchen to get food or leaving the house to get mail.

Find a place in your home that’s somewhat distant from easy distractions like the couch, the kitchen, the TV, etc. You want a place that signals to your brain – and to other people – that you’re engaged in work.Don't work where you normally relax or you won't be able to relax there anymore.

Sidenote: get a good chair. We use office chairs in offices for a reason. Do your back, and feet, the favor and get an office chair that is comfortable and supportive. (Source: Twitter)

Having a designated workspace also makes it easier to establish boundaries if you live with other people. Make it clear that when you’re in that designated space, you are working and will not be available until the time that you’ve designated. Which brings us to our next tip.

Maintain Your Already Established Routine

As thrilling as it might be to no longer have that hour plus commute to the office, the worst thing you can do is break your routine overnight. Wake up at exactly the same time, shower and brush your teeth [your significant other will always appreciate that], and get dressed as if you’re going to the office anyway.

If you are going to modify your routine, I suggest including something to enhance your well-being like exercise/meditation, journaling, reading a book, or listening to a podcast.

Schedule your day and set alarms – Before you start working, set an alarm for the start and the end of your work day and schedule your breaks.Working in an office with other people comes with natural distractions, interruptions, and non-work related stimulation that won’t be available when working alone.

Scheduling breaks is crucial for to avoid burning yourself out.

I would also recommend scheduling other activities and hobbies as well. Schedule FaceTime chats with friends that you would normally meet for happy hour. If you’re not an owner of a Peloton bike, some trainers and gyms like Aspire Fitness in Colts Neck are now scheduling virtual workout classes via Google Hangouts.

Make Use Of Free Or Inexpensive Communications Technology

Much of this will depend on the policies and procedures set forth by your company but in order to make remote working a success, using the right communication and collaboration tools is a big part of the job as well as developing policies and etiquette for reporting and maintaining contact.

There is a plethora of software and platforms that exist for communication and collaboration and it’s up to the business or company to decide what’s the best combination of tools for them.

  • Slack, HipChat, or Workplace by Facebook for real-time chat, social connection, and urgent conversations
  • Asana, Teamwork, or Trello for project management, collaboration, and productivity
  • Google Drive or DropBox for file sharing and cloud storage
  • Zoom or Google Hangouts for video conference calls, meetings, and screen sharing.
  • EverHour, Harvest or Paymo for time-tracking and invoicing
  • Google Suite or Microsoft Office Online for document creation and editing
  • SelfControl or Cold Turkey can temporarily block specific websites, games, and other programs so you stay on track

Whether you’re new to working from home or your company has allowed you to do so in the past, the reality is that under these circumstances working from home brings an entirely new perspective and challenge.

The most important thing for you is to maintain as much normalcy and routine as you can while following the guidelines and safety protocols that have been established where you live and following the CDC’s recommendations for washing your hands and cleaning surfaces.

With facts and level-headed approaches, we will all get through this together.

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