The coronavirus has brought with it a “new normal” and for many of us that means working from home for the very first time.
Whether you call it telecommuting, working remotely, or the favorite acronym, WFH, the change in routine, coupled with the daily updates of the virus, with no good news in sight, could easily leave you feeling overwhelmed or even hopeless. Here are some tips for making the most out of this new normal.
Prior to COVID-19, approximately 43% of American employees worked remotely on a somewhat regular basis, with 3.6% of the U.S. work force, or 5 million employees, working from home half the time or more, excluding those who are self-employed.
Working from home has many benefits, such as flexibility, saving on gas, saving on gas or train/bus fare, saving money on lunch and saving time on commuting to work. Many may find the flexible work environment helps them strike a healthier work-life balance. You may find that you are more productive and focused since you feel you are in control of your schedule.
It’s important not to neglect your physical and mental health at this time. Don’t forget to continue to exercise. Meditate to clear your mind with deep breathing techniques. You can also do yoga stretches in between tasks and get back to work immediately and feel more energized and focused. This is a good time to start a new habit of cooking more meals at home. Learn to eat and prepare fewer processed foods and significantly reduce your sugar intake. Have you raided your “emergency food” yet? If not, you are ahead of the pack.
Try to maintain your daily routine to the best of your ability. While the day may look different from being in a traditional office setting, keep your daily schedule the same. This may sound lame, but it’s a good idea to continue to wake up at the same time every morning, even if that means it is 6 a.m. and it is still dark outside. Keep up your daily morning routine. Just because you can work in your pajamas all day doesn’t mean you should. Take a shower and get dressed in the morning. Treat it like a real job. It is normal to feel unproductive the first few days and that is okay. If you feel a lull, go ahead and complete those tiny tasks that have been looming over you when you were in the office, such as sorting out your files or catching up on that required training you’ve been putting off.
Don’t forget to communicate the expectations of your availability with the people you live with when you work from home. While your spouse may think you are home to relax with them, you could very well be spending that time hustling with vendors, colleagues or business associates. They may see you physically at home but that doesn’t mean they have your undivided attention. You will need to state your working hours and set boundaries as not to leave anyone feeling disappointed or neglected. If you can work behind closed doors, even better.
It is natural to feel isolated working from home, and even more so in today’s post-COVID world due to “social distancing” and closures of all non-essential stores and shops. Continue to have lunch with your colleagues, even if it means via FaceTime. Collaborating with colleagues virtually will allow you to feel more connected with your team. Call a loved one you haven’t spoken to in some time. See how they are doing and check to see and share ideas on how to feel less isolated or remote. The key is to keep doing what you normally would do, but differently.