Working from home isn’t always an ideal situation. Although some people might love sitting down on the couch to work in their pajamas with a cup of coffee, others might not be as adept at making the transition.
Unfortunately, the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is forcing more people to work from home than ever. Whether it’s because of company mandates like those from Google and Twitter or self-quarantine measures, U.S. workers are being forced to adapt.
Fortunately, learning to work from home is possible if you’re well prepared. Although it might sound contradictory, establishing a work routine is important. Ultimately, finding your own way to stay focused and productive while working at home is key. These strategies can help you find your flow when you are forced to work from home.
Foster Your Environment
Bringing the office into your home can quickly spiral into chaos if you don’t manage it appropriately. Combining your work life and home life is something that often adds an extra layer of stress when you first make the transition. Adding the fact that many people are going to spend more time at home than usual because of the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t help. To avoid this unnecessary stress, it’s important to foster the right type of environment.
A great way to do this is to have a separate workspace. Obviously, this can be challenging if “home” is a small, one-bedroom apartment. However, a workspace doesn’t need to be an elaborate setting. Perhaps you can designate a small table in the corner with a comfortable chair for your work. Those who have the luxury of dedicating an entire room as their workspace should do so.
Having a space that is solely reserved for work helps you focus and mentally prepare for the day. Although working on your couch isn’t impossible, it can be hard to separate your job from relaxation time.
Get the Right Gear
Today’s technology-filled world means that you probably already have most of the equipment you need to create a stellar work-from-home setup.
The single most important piece of gear is a high-quality laptop. Not only will the majority of your work be done online, it will also likely require special programs.
For most employees working from home, your company may reimburse the expense of getting a computer and the necessary software. For freelancers, these expenses all count towards an end-of-year tax write-off.
In addition to a laptop, you’ll also need a reliable Internet connection and a phone. Chances are, most everyone already has these two things.
Finally, investing in a pair of noise-canceling headphones is a must. These will help you tune out the world around you while you settle in for work.
Make a Routine
Driving to the office, getting your Starbucks, packing a lunch, commuting home, and many other small things contribute to your regular work routine. Subconsciously, these help you find your focus and switch into “work mode.”
When working from home, these activities no longer exist. However, it is still crucial to establish a daily routine. This means that you should designate certain hours for work, breaks, and meals. Not only does this help reduce burnout, it also adds some much-needed structure to your day.
On top of this, working from home can get lonely. While you take a break from work try to make a point to interact with co-workers over messaging apps, company forums, or even a quick video chat. This will help boost everyone’s spirits in such a trying time.
Along the same lines, try to get outside and enjoy a breath of fresh air every day. Even a 10-minute walk around the neighborhood can keep you from becoming a work-from-home gremlin. Keep in mind that you should still try to avoid public places with lots of people.
Ultimately, finding the routine that works for you will likely take some time. However, it is an important process when adapting to the home office life. By creating healthy habits and setting yourself up for success with the right gear and the right environment, you’ll be a work-from-home pro before you know it.