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March 27, 2020
As we all adapt to changing circumstances during these turbulent times, for many of us that will mean working from home. For some, this will be the first time they work from home and are tasked with maintaining productivity and trying to ignore the distractions of home be they family, pets, Netflix, or snacks. Moving from our usual workspaces, not seeing our colleagues, and modifying our everyday routines can be a big adjustment. Here are a few ideas to help you work at home!
It is super important to maintain your usual workday routine, even if you aren’t physically leaving the house. Continue to wake up at the time you usually would, get dressed, and have breakfast. Really whatever your typical morning routine looks like. Perhaps one of the most challenging mental blocks to overcome when approaching your routine is your commute. You would usually leave the house at a certain time to make it to where you need to go and that can throw you for a bit of a loop. Replace your usual commute time with another activity to help shift your mindset from home to work mode. Try going on a short walk, practicing mindfulness or meditation, or listening to a podcast. Creating consistency for yourself will help you make the transition to your new workspace.
Creating a physical space where you can do work is important. Even if you have the best, most positive mindset towards working from home, without the actual space for that work to take place, it will be hard to get anything done. This doesn’t mean you have to find a new space or reorganize your whole house! Just find a separate space that feels good for you. If you don’t have an office or workspace in your home already, try finding space in a different room than where most other household members spend time. Let those you share a home with know when you are working and when you are free to give you the privacy and quiet you need to work. Don’t stress about the mess. Carving out a designated workspace at home might feel really overwhelming to some, especially if they feel like it will entail major cleaning or reorganization. It’s totally fine to do a mini move around of objects in the space to create a work sanctuary for yourself, but this shouldn’t be an added stressor. As you would at work, at the end of each day, take a few minutes to organize your space so that it is prepped for the next day.
Children across Canada have been given an extended spring break as a consequence of the current situation. Camps, many daycares, community centres, and other childcare facilities are closed as well. Parents have also been warned not to set up play dates or let their kids seen grandparents because of the current risks. All the usual fun, social kid things are on hold at the moment, and that means kids are at home with their parents all day. Getting work done at home with kids there as well is definitely a challenge, especially depending on the age and needs of the children. Everyone is having to comply with the current situation so simply communicate with your colleagues about the fact that your kids are at home with you and might interrupt your work meeting. You can do your best to mitigate these interruptions, but life happens. Experts in working remotely suggest communicating with your kids about when you are working and when they can ask you questions. Create structure for them so they know the rules and know when you will be ‘home’. Scheduling break time into your day can be a nice way to check in with the kids and let them have access to you, but only during certain times. Maybe you can all have lunch together. By scheduling your time with your kids, they won’t feel left out and are still a part of your day.
It can be easy to get distracted but now is the time to be conscientious of how we use our time and where we put our energy. Unlike school, where you usually get in trouble if you are goofing off too much or not paying attention, you have to be accountable to yourself for how you use your time. Advocate for yourself about the things you need to be successful while working at home to your employer.
Of course we all need to be taking the necessary precautions at this time to help mitigate the risks. That being said, while it is important to keep our distance from others at this time, that doesn’t mean we need to stop connecting. Working from home can be a big adjustment simply because you are no longer interacting with your colleagues. Working remotely doesn’t mean you have to feel isolated though! If you usually have a brainstorming session, hold it using a video platform or over the phone. In an age of texting, it can be easy to forget that chatting over the phone can also be casual and easy. To maintain close personal connections, try picking up the phone and catching up like you normally would if you were in person. We are apart but not alone.
Some of us have really small, open concept living spaces, which is great for hanging out but can make it hard to find space when you are sharing these places for work. Because people aren’t able to work elsewhere, you have to work with what you do have. Each person should find themselves a space, even if it is really small, which should be as separate as possible. If you are in close quarters, you may need to communicate to those who share your space and let them know what you have coming up that day. That way, you can all do you best to help each other work without interruption.
It can be really tempting to keep working beyond your usual hours when you have everything at home. While being self-motivated and focused on your work-related tasks is important, over-working ourselves isn’t good. If you usually have a long commute to work and suddenly find yourself with extra time, try doing something for your physical, emotional, or mental wellbeing. Maybe you take a little stroll, spend some time cooking, or do something creative. Making time for relaxation is important, especially when there are a lot of overwhelming things happening. Be sure to make that time for yourself by not over-working.
This is a time to be gentle with ourselves. We are all adjusting to new and unforeseen circumstances. We could all stand to be a little more patient with ourselves and now is a great time to practice that. Treating yourself is a great way to give yourself a break! Buy yourself some flowers, jewelry, essential oil blends, or a sweet treat. However, you want to show yourself some love, try and support local at the same time. Although we are physically more apart than we often are, you can still participate in your community. The future of many small and local businesses has become very precarious due to current conditions and they need our support. Show them some love by buying from them online and get yourself a treat along the way.
Working from home is a big adjustment for many of us. We hope these tips for making the transition smoother are helpful. We would love to hear what you are doing to help yourself work at home. Connect with us on social media and let us know your work from home tips!