While many are slowly returning back to the workplace after being in quarantine for the last three months, there are still many of us who continue to work from home either indefinitely or, now permanently, as companies weigh best solutions for continued operation. Though some employees may have taken to working from home like a duck to water, many of us are still struggling to find a rhythm that keeps us focused and productive, while at the same time meeting our vital needs for rest, human connection, and a healthy work/life balance. With a desire to help you through these special work-from-home challenges, here are some guidelines for staying on track and remaining sane:
1. Keep regular hours. Set a schedule for yourself and stick to it as much as you possibly can. Make sure that your schedule includes adequate breaks (per your company’s policy on break times) and reasonable start and end times for your workday.
2. Create a routine. Start and end your day with a routine. Develop habits that signal when your day starts and when it’s time to end. What morning routine could you begin that indicates you’re about to start work? Maybe it’s getting up and getting dressed (staying in pajamas all day may be a plus for some but can be a bad idea for others.) Perhaps your trigger to signal day-end could be going for a walk, or even as simple as shutting down your computer totally and turning off the phone you use for work.
3. Have a designated workspace. Even if you don’t have a separate room you can utilize as a home office, decide what spot in your house will be the best for focused work time. Not only does this help you maintain maximum productivity, but it also assists in making the necessary mental shift at the end of the day from “work mode” to “home mode.” It’s critical to maintain a healthy work/life balance, especially when working remotely.
4. Leave home. If you can, get out of the house and get some fresh air at least once a day. Take a walk. Sit on your patio and enjoy some sunshine. Weed the garden. Go get a fun coffee drink at your local coffee shop and sip it at the park. This not only helps you de-stress, but the fresh air and natural light will benefit your overall well-being.
Another perk of getting out of the house is that it gives you the opportunity to see people. Whether it’s waving and saying “hi” to the neighbor across the street, or having a brief, friendly interaction with the barista at the coffee drive-through, these interchanges can lift your spirits and help you to maintain a more positive and healthy mental attitude.
5. Overcommunicate. When working remotely, it can be easy to feel less connected with other team members. Extra communication not only builds trust and maintains connection with colleagues, but it also avoids unnecessary confusion about projects, schedules, etc. When you complete an important task, communicate. Keep folks updated on your availability and schedule. Your communications don’t have to be lengthy explaining every detail, but you will need to repeat yourself often.
The application of these suggestions may look different for you than for someone else. However, we hope that these ideas both inspire and help you to discover what causes you to thrive remotely.