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Coronavirus making you work from home? Here are 10 tips to thriving while working from home

An executive coach’s advice about how to effectively work from home when your office is closed.

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Woman Working at Computer from Home

Amid Coronavirus concerns, some Silicon Valley companies have recommended that employees work from home for the foreseeable future, and more will likely follow suit in the coming weeks. Although this was done as a cautionary measure, we can expect more people to be working from home going forward.

Working out of the comfort of your own home can be amazing. However, if you’re not careful, you can find yourself in your pajamas and on your laptop at 9pm wondering what happened to your day, and why you’re so cranky. 

Having reliable internet and getting dressed for the day is obviously a given, but here are some additional ways to ensure that you don’t overwork and that you stay healthy while working from home.  

1. Set expectations with family members or roommates.

Upfront communication with anyone who may be home with you is important about when you’ll be working, and the best way to communicate with you. You might want to tell your partner that you’d love to have lunch, but that they should follow normal protocol as if you were in the office, and email or text you during other times of the day. If you want to have a more flexible policy with your housemates, it can be helpful to put a red sign on your door to indicate that you can’t be disturbed. If your kids are around in the afternoon, this should also provide a helpful and easy to understand visual for them that mom or dad is in work mode. If you don’t have a door, a sticky note on your computer will do the trick. 

2. Communicate daily priorities with your manager.

While you’re transitioning into working from home, it’s helpful to communicate more frequently than normal about what you’re up to, and how you’re contributing to the team’s goals. I recommend sharing your top weekly or even daily priorities with your manager to establish what you’ll accomplish in a given week or day. Although this will be a huge benefit to your manager, the real benefit is for you since you’ll start each day knowing exactly what to focus on. 

3. Pay more attention to punctuality

Since you don’t have the luxury of others seeing you wrapping up a call, or giving them the one more minute sign, you need to be more mindful of punctuality when working from home. I recommend joining video conferences and calls a few minutes early to give yourself time in case a technical snag comes up. 

Don’t let colleagues hang around waiting for you to start meetings, and if you’re going to be even a few minutes late, text or message your colleagues to let them know. When everyone is prompt to calls, it gives you that necessary and important time for informals catch ups before you dive into work matters. 

4. Repurpose your commute time towards your well-being.

Although most overachievers will be tempted to redirect their commute time into work time, this is a mistake. This bonus time that you’ve freed up should go towards your well-being. I highly recommend using your previous commute time for exercise. Even if it’s just a brief one mile jog or 15 minute walk, the payoff is huge, and your body will thank you. 

If you’re thinking this will make you a slacker, please remember that before you were working remotely, you were not being “productive” on your commute. And the healthier and happier you are, the better employee you’ll be. Meditation and exercise are both important investments in your well-being since they are proven to reduce stress, and stress weakens the immune system.  If you’re out sick, not only do you feel bad, but you also can’t get any work done.

5. Create a morning routine.

How you start your day is vitally important to your well-being, and has a ripple effect throughout your day. Whether it’s making time for meditation, exercise, yoga or simply drinking a glass of water when you wake up, start your day doing something for you. I start every day with a one song dance party in my pajamas where I put in my earbuds, and dance to express my gratitude for my body and to gently wake my body up with natural endorphins. 

6. Have a wellness work buddy.

Since you won’t be having the normal chit chat with your coworkers, try partnering up with a coworker, creating a wellness challenge, and holding each other accountable. You could both take the same challenge: meditate for 10 minutes a day, go for a run, or walk, or do a workout video. Once you’ve completed your daily challenge, send a quick text to check in and let your partner know you’ve done it. Not only will you be more likely to follow through with your wellness habit, you’ll also have fun connecting with a coworker in a new way. 

7. Plan for distractions.

If you have a plan in place for what you’ll do when interruptions come up, you’ll be less likely to get thrown off course. A little bit of prevention can go a long way. Making rules for yourself, like only doing household chores during your lunch break, can also be helpful to prevent being tempted by the laundry pile. I know, I know, a laundry pile never looked tempting midweek before, but when you’re seeing it all day long, it suddenly becomes more attractive to tackle. 

8. Take breaks.

Set aside time each day for a lunch break to refuel yourself with a healthy meal. I recommend preparing a meal the night before, or at least planning what you’ll have for lunch so you don’t have to think about it during the work day. Planning will prevent you from dashing out when you’re hungry and getting something unhealthy. 

You can also take mini breaks to reset throughout the day if you feel yourself getting stressed, frazzled, or low in energy. I recommend taking a short meditation break in the afternoon around 2pm to avoid the post lunch slump. My free five day Mindset Reset Challenge offers five short meditations that you can do for a quick, and healthy, pick me up. 

9. Pick an end time for your work day and stick to it

Decide what time you’ll wrap up work each day, and stick to it. When you’re working from home, it’s so tempting to keep working and never shut off. Setting a clear and defined end of your workday is important so you don’t get burned out. If you’re brave, I recommend leaving your phone in your room during dinner time so you’re not tempted to keep answering emails and work throughout the night. 

10. Make time to connect with coworkers informally

Personal interactions are vital for well-being and team cohesion, but when you’re working from home, it’s easy to become isolated if you’re not careful. Ask your coworkers how they are doing, and really listen to what they say. You may even want to schedule virtual coffee dates, or post work drinks over video conference to keep connected. 

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