As more local and federal restrictions are put into place in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, more of us are now working from home and will be for weeks or even months. For most of us, this a big change to our daily routines and the adjustment, especially for a long period of time, will no doubt have its challenges.
Myself and several other Aventrians will also be working from home for the time being and, as a result, I decided to research the best ways to make this transition as easy and productive as possible. After reading through several articles and blog posts, here are the top suggestions that the internet agrees on most to make remote life bearable or even enjoyable, during the coronavirus outbreak.
1. Create & Maintain a Daily Routine
Following a work from home routine is crucial to productivity and will help you build a barrier around your work and home life. Decide when you'll start and stop working for the day and stick with it. Setting aside time for chores, hobbies, fitness or family time is just as important as getting work done. Take it from Forbes, who says: "After a reasonable day’s work, put away your electronic devices and work tools just as you would store carpentry tools after building shelves or baking ingredients after making a cake. Keeping work reminders out of sight keeps them out of mind and helps you relax and recharge your batteries."
2. Dress for Success
When you work from home, it may be tempting to roll out of bed and start working in your pajamas. But going through your regular hygiene routine (taking a shower, washing your face, putting in your contacts, grooming your hair, etc.) and changing into a different outfit (even if it's still a comfortable one!), will help put you into work mode and maintain a sense of professionalism, especially if you're participating in more virtual meetings.
3. Create Rules & Communicate With The People You're Living With
Whether you live with your spouse, roommates and/or kids, when there's a big change to your routine, discussing the reasons why and the rules that come along with it can help get everyone on board and set up for success. If someone else in your household is also working from home and is on the phone all day, it may make sense to find a closed door room for them to work in, for example. If your kids are old enough to entertain themselves, let them know not to disturb you if your office door is closed.
4. Give Kids Something to Do
Speaking of kids, taking care of younger ones can especially be difficult if one or both parents need to work from home. On top of implementing a routine and rules, think of some crafts, projects, games, or other tasks they could do while you're working. If you want some of their activities to be educational, Scholastic recently announced its Scholastic Learn At Home program, which gives parents "open access to daily learning journeys divided into four grade spans—Pre-K–K, Grades 1–2, Grades 3–5, and Grades 6–9+, covering ELA, STEM, Science, Social Studies, and Social-Emotional Learning."
5. Separate Your Work from Your Relaxation Spaces
Working from your bed or on your couch in front of the TV is also a common work from home temptation. Not only is that set up distracting, but it can blur the lines between work time and relaxation time in an unhealthy way. Whether it's a designated office room or your dining room table, setting up shop away from your places to wind down will help you be more productive and save your sanity.
6. Set up Your Work Space for Success
Along with creating a clean, comfortable and distraction-free working environment, make sure you have everything you need within reach, like your planner, notepads, pens and headphones. Your technology set up is also especially important. NPR recommends that you take anything from your office "that might make working on your laptop from home a little easier," such as your keyboard, mouse, and extra monitors. Also talk with IT to make sure you have all the proper software installed on your laptop that you'll need and that your internet connection works where your work set up is.
7. Communicate Regularly With Your Co-Workers
While working from home is easy for some, depending on your profession or duties, completing certain tasks may be more difficult when you're away from the office. Have a meeting with your manager or team to discuss any limitations or areas where each person may need help and see where others can pick up the slack. Like Good Housekeeping says, it's "a good idea to set up regular check-ins via phone or video conferencing like Skype, Slack, FaceTime, or Zoom," to ensure everyone is getting their work done.
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8. Use More Video
From quick one-on-one phone calls, to hour long strategy meetings, now is the time to turn your webcam on during your regular virtual meetings. With coronavirus likely taking weeks or months to contain, it may be very isolating at times to not leave your house and see other people each day. The more human interaction you can get, the better. Talk to your teammates and encourage a video on policy when meeting online. Everyone will be sure to thank you later.
9. Take Regular Breaks
Just like at the office, taking regular, scheduled breaks is important to both your work and your mental health. Every 30 minutes or an hour, stop what you're doing to take a few minutes to yourself, whether it's to get up and stretch, throw a load of laundry in the wash, call to check in with your loved ones, or step outside to get some fresh air.
10. Eat Healthy & Incorporate Exercise into Your Daily Routine
Working in an office already promotes a pretty sedentary lifestyle and working from home makes it even worse. Set aside time each day to make exercise a priority. While many gyms or fitness studios are closed during the pandemic, you can still go for runs or walks outside, look up workouts to follow along with on YouTube or do some basic yoga stretches inside. Try not to order take out to much and stock your pantry and fridge with healthy options for meals and snacks. Consider meal-prepping once a week to make healthy meals quick and readily available.
11. Make Your Mental Health a Priority
Working from home for weeks at a time when you're not used to it is harder than it may seem, and constantly hearing coronavirus updates on the news can certainly take a toll on your mood. Your mental health during this time is a major priority and you should do what you can to make it through one day at a time. Turn off news push notifications on your phone, and during your down time try to do something fun and distracting. Don't be afraid to tell your managers and coworkers if you're having a bad day or to take PTO during the outbreak. You may not be able to go anywhere, but taking time to take care of yourself can help you make it through.
12. Stay Positive
Finally, do your best to stay positive and share that positivity with your coworkers. Whether it's a funny meme or an uplifting story (like the Italians singing from their balconies while under quarantine), or starting a conversation about what TV shows everyone is binging on Netflix, try to keep morale high by sharing one positive or fun thing on Slack or via email every day. You never know who else needs inspiration or a silver lining on a especially difficult day.
The coronavirus pandemic is unlike anything many of us have ever seen before and is changing everyday life as we know it. Don't let working from home get the best of you and try to turn this big change into something positive and productive. Like those who already work from home will likely tell you, it's all about a proper work/life balance. By implementing some of these tips at home, you'll set your professional and personal life up for success during this challenging time.
Are you working from home during the coronavirus? What tips do you have to share with your fellow event planners? Share in the comments below!