The effects of the coronavirus pandemic have upended daily life in ways we might never have imagined a few weeks ago. Workflow is one of them. Freelancers and service-industry workers are hurting for jobs now that events are being canceled, people are increasingly opting to stay at home for fear of exposure, and the economy is tanking. Office building closures have left those who usually work at desks on their couches instead, doing their jobs remotely. The break in routine is awkward, to say the least, for those adjusting to a new normal. But many marketers, writers, and techies who work in the gig economy have been living this life for years. If you find yourself among those trying to figure out how to work from home, I can help. Maximizing productivity and collaboration in a work-from-home environment requires preparation, communication and smart use of technology.
Many of the key ingredients of effective remote work are not new concepts to many people, but they bear repeating given this sudden change in workplace rhythms. I love it, but I know it’s not an easy transition, especially if it’s not one you’ve been planning for. Here are some tips on how to make the best of it until you start commuting again.
YOUR OFFICE, YOUR SPACE
Separating work and home life takes a deliberate approach given the vast number of available distractions that can compromise productivity. Pick a spot for your office. It doesn’t have to have a door, but it should be away from distraction. You don’t need an expensive set up.
Communicate your schedule clearly to family members who may be home during the day. This is the biggest challenge when you work from home. Others don’t realise they are in your “office” and may have a hard time adjusting.
PC World has listed some helpful tips on how to properly set up your workspace. Remember, this is the space where you will be spending most of your day. Make sure you LOVE it.
ONGOING COMMUNICATION IS KEY
Working remotely can leave people feeling out of the loop, so err on the side of over-communication. Taking steps to let colleagues know when you will be available during the day is another important step as visual cues, like a closed office door, may be reduced. Setting “busy” or “in a meeting” status notifications is a good practice. This will help ensure you are able to carve out time for work that requires deep focus, but also allows you to remain accessible to others.
SOCIAL DISTANCING DOESN’T MEAN CUTTING OFF THE WORLD
Staying away from the office means missing out on convos with your work BFF. Make it a point to spend more of your free time reaching out to people via text and on social media. And video calls aren’t just for the workplace. Set up a Skype or FaceTime call with friends or relatives. This will also be a great incentive to get dressed and keep your morning routine. Although I must admit that my “work from home” wardrobe consists of mostly yoga wear.
Stay calm. If you are part of the population that is lucky enough to be able to work from home, count your blessings. Millions don’t have the luxury. Reach out to those who may need your support and find ways to help your local community thrive during this difficult time.
And finally, if I can leave you with the single most important advice:
Mute yourself on conference calls.