Working from home has been a rarity in the American workplace – until now: enter the Coronavirus pandemic, and suddenly half, or more, of the American workforce is now working from their homes. Because of the sudden change, most of these workers aren’t really prepared for the switch from the office cubicle farm to their living room coffee table, and may find their stress level increasing; schools are out all over the country, and parents are now confronted with dealing with their kids while they adjust to the new working reality. Technology eases the burden somewhat, but the worker has to make the adjustments needed to have a successful work-from-home experience without actually killing their kids in the process. To help you manage the burden, here are five tips for having a successful work-at-home experience:
Organize your Day
As Col. Hannibal Smith said in the TV show “The A-Team,” “I love it when a plan comes together.” Make this your new mantra, and plan out each day the night before. If you have children, schedule your homeschooling, breaks, and after school activities and stick to it if all possible; however, be flexible – things like unexpected illnesses can throw a kink into your plans, so be ready to make adjustments.
You will have to work while you home school; the school systems are sending work out to students online, so you can do your job while they work on lessons at the computer. Be prepared for interruptions, as your kids ask for help or guidance with their lessons, but you should still be able to answer emails or work on projects during the session.
Set up an Office Space in your House
You may wind up working at your dining room table or from your living room sofa most of the time as you deal with your kids during the day, but you need to set up a space for you to work from away from your family. If your spouse is also working from home, split the minding of the kids between the two of you, so you can have a little peace and quiet while you work. Even if you never use the space during the day, you still need somewhere to store your reference materials, office supplies, and project notes. After your kids are down for the night, you can use this space to catch up on work and to plan the next day’s schedule.
Keep your Internet Secure
The Internet is getting a workout during these trying times; kids online doing school work, parents working from home, and everybody binge-watching their favorite shows and movies to keep from dying of boredom. It goes without saying you should have security on your home networks and workstations, but we’ll say it anyway: the Internet is inherently unsafe for your personal and professional information. Firewalls and anti-malware software are requirements for your protection, and you should have implemented them when you first got connected. It’s more important than ever for you to secure your information, so if you haven’t, do it right away.
Get Enough Sleep
It’s tempting to stay up until the wee hours to catch up on work stuff – don’t do it, at least not every night. You’re going to find the challenge of working from home and being a full-time parent to be exhausting; you need your sleep. Proper sleep keeps your energy levels up, boosts your immune system, and keeps your moods on an even keel; trying to do all you need to do on short sleep will have you snapping at friends, colleagues and family alike. Unless you have a firm and tight deadline requiring extra work, get some sleep.
To combat the Coronavirus, you need a strong immune system; to keep from losing it over having your kids at home 24/7 for the foreseeable future, you need to get out of the house for a walk once in a while. Exercise is important for the whole family, as it boosts your immune system; taking a walk in the sunshine boosts it more. There is no truth to the rumor sunshine kills the virus – it doesn’t. Ultraviolet (UV) light does kill it, but not the UV light you’ll get from being outside. However, sunshine does boost your production of Vitamin D – a powerful antioxidant that strengthens your immune system. So, take the kids out for a walk – maintain social distancing from others as you do so, but it’s not necessary to maintain it with your kids; after all, you live in the same house.
As we cope with the Coronavirus pandemic, many of us are working out of our homes; we’re also trying to deal with having the kids at home 24/7 at the same time. Utilizing these five tips will help you as you deal with the situation, and set you up for a successful work-at-home situation. One unexpected consequence of this pandemic is corporations will now see working from home successfully is possible, and may change their paradigms about management, and the workplace. That, as Martha would say, is a good thing.