How to stay on track while working from home
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many Canadians across the country have been working from home to help prevent the virus from spreading. Many of us have now been working remotely for much longer than we ever expected, and some companies are even planning to make remote work a permanent option (or requirement) for their employees. If working from home still doesn’t feel like second nature to you, consider these tips to help you stay on track, no matter how long you’ll be working remotely:
- Set up your workspace in a way that will help you focus and do your job most effectively. While some people might have a dedicated home office space, others might have to get a little more creative when it comes to choosing a workspace. No matter where you’ve chosen to get set up, take some time to tidy up your workspace and add your own finishing touches, like desk plants, an extension cord to plug in all of your technology, and even a Bluetooth speaker to play the radio in the background if that’s what you got used to in the office. You may also want to ask your employer if they’re able to provide you with ergonomic equipment if you’ll be at home for a while longer (or permanently).
- Keep your routine as close to normal as possible. Wake up at the same time every day, get dressed and ready as if you were going into the office (but wear comfy clothes for a little self-care), and start and end your workday around the same time each day. Depending on who else is at home on a daily basis (and whether or not you’ve suddenly taken on a new role as a home-school teacher), it might be tough to keep your normal 9-to-5 schedule. Shifting your “office hours” could help you balance all of your commitments.
- Take breaks at your regular break times and get away from your work. Make yourself something to eat and have a virtual “lunch date” with a friend, watch an episode of your favourite TV show, do a quick at-home workout or yoga video, or get outside for some fresh air (just make sure you maintain a safe distance from others). Whatever you choose to do, you’ll feel most refreshed if you can get your mind off your work for a little while, which should help you stay productive for the rest of the day. If you have kids at home, consider taking a lunch break together and planning out their activities or schoolwork for the afternoon.
- Hold meetings using video conferencing instead of phone calls whenever possible. This can help you feel more connected to your colleagues and give you some much-needed human contact to help lift your spirits. It’s also a good excuse to get up and get dressed in the morning instead of staying in your pajamas.
- Have a video chat with a colleague or two when you need some “watercooler talk.” If you’re used to being in close contact with your colleagues and talking about what’s going on in your lives outside of the office, you’re likely missing that type of break and connection while working from home. A short video conference about things that aren’t necessarily work related could be a good substitute for conversations you normally would have had in the office.
Working from home with kids
If you have kids who are also at home right now, it can be especially challenging to balance work, home-schooling, and family life without being able to physically go to work. Consider these tips for working from home while your kids are there, too:
- If you’re now juggling home-schooling with your regular job, you’ll likely need to rework your schedule to balance both. Talk to your employer to see if they’re okay with you shifting your workday around a little to accommodate your work and your kids’ learning, or ask about flexible work arrangements.
- Pre-pack meals and snacks similar to what you would normally send to school, and make sure your kids know where to find them when they’re hungry.
- Set boundaries and make sure your kids understand when you will be taking an important call or working on something urgent.
- When you take a break, try to get some fresh air with your kids (while keeping a safe distance from others).
- Consider creating a daily schedule for your kids, including schoolwork and activities that don’t require your help or supervision (depending on their age). Choose the most engaging activities for times when you will be taking important calls or working on urgent assignments.
- Last but not least, don’t be too hard on yourself if your kids get more screen time than usual right now — letting them sit and watch a movie or two can be a great way to keep them occupied, and it requires very little time and effort on your end.
What to do if you still have to go to work
If you’re unable to work from home and you still have to go to work, ask your employer what you can do to practice physical distancing on the job if they haven’t already put a plan in place. No matter what you do, follow local mask bylaws, avoid touching your mouth and face, and wash your hands as often as possible. Before you get into your vehicle at the end of the day, be sure to wash or sanitize your hands to avoid bringing germs into your vehicle or your home.
Share these tips on Facebook or Twitter to help other friends who are stuck working from home right now, too.