Nearly everyone has been affected in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some people who still have to show up to their physical workplace are struggling to stay safe and adopt new protocols that minimize the risk of contracting or spreading this potentially lethal virus. People who work remotely from home have their own obstacles to overcome. If you’re quarantining and working from home, you may feel completely thrown off your game. Still, with the following tips, you can create a positive work experience that complements your own dedication, self-discipline, and know-how.
One of the challenges of workers who’ve suddenly found themselves working from home is creating a new workday schedule. If you no longer clock in, you might be like thousands of other workers staying up later than usual to watch the news (or Netflix) or dealing with the kids’ e-learning assignments. In short, the old schedules went out the window, and that problematic change adds an element of chaos to day-to-day life.
If you wish to construct a positive work-from-home experience, the first thing you need to do is develop a routine schedule that’s convenient and easy to maintain. If you have some flexibility — and in many cases, employers are flexible because they’re working from home, too — design a schedule that works for your lifestyle. If your family needs you by 9 a.m., start your workday at 7 or 8 a.m. Use this early time to answer emails and organize your work for the day, then build out your schedule from there.
If you’re only responsible for yourself, consider designing a routine that nearly mimics your regular work schedule. Take lunch at the same time you usually do, and schedule meetings as if you’re at the office. Also, set aside no-interruption work time when you need to focus on essential tasks. A routine lends structure to your day, and that framework supports good work habits. Without structure, you may find your days seem less organized and productive.
Get on Track with Technology
Hopefully, your employer already encourages you to rely on specific online platforms or apps to stay connected with colleagues or clients. However, if you’re an independent operator and have some choice in communication methods, make sure to investigate your technology options. Many online meeting and conferencing platforms and messaging apps exist you can use for work aside from email or even text. Once you select your platforms, get to know how they work inside and out. The better command you have of these tools, the more proficient you are when using them or training others to use them. Because you’re not in the office these days, you may miss workplace equipment such as copiers and scanners. If that’s the case, talk to your employer about alternative options when you can’t access the equipment that typically gets you through the day.
Don’t Blur the Lines
Sticking to a routine each day helps reduce the risk of blurring the lines between your work life and personal life. When the two collide, one or both aspects of your life usually suffers. Occasionally, you may have to complete some work in the evening, but try not to make it a habit. Remember, if you allow your work to bleed into your personal time or your family time to encroach on your work time, you might make mistakes and experience greater difficulty than if you just maintain a more rigid routine.
To keep your work and private life separate when you’re always at home, you need set boundaries. If you have a home office, keep the door closed so your family or roommates know you’re on the job. If you don’t have an office, set up a space where you can work behind a closed door, either in your bedroom or in a spare room. If you bring your work into the living room and park in front of the television, you might find you entertain more interruptions and work less productively.
Nurture Your Self-Discipline
The key to a successful remote work experience is self-discipline. When you suddenly have no one looking over your shoulder, you can raid your fridge any time. You can also throw in a load of laundry or walk the dog. If, however, you deviate too far from your work schedule, you might find yourself missing deadlines or not completing your work efficiently. To maintain your self-discipline, consider making lists and checking off each item as you finish it to add a feeling of accomplishment to your day. Tell yourself you can’t break until you complete a set number of tasks on your current list, and use this method every day to stay on track.
Many industries and businesses are in a state of flux as recommendations change and company needs change. For example, businesses that typically meet face-to-face with clients must suddenly engage with customers in new ways, and some may not have access to customer bases at all outside of social media or email. Additionally, most companies need to update their disaster plans to account for pandemic situations like this one.
With those potential hiccups in mind, use this time to focus on the aspects of work you can control and complete right now. Ask yourself what other projects you get done while working at reduced capacity, and find ways to stay calm and centered when you experience hurry up and wait situations.
Even though you’re at home, you can still perform good work—no, great work! You simply have to dedicate yourself to the challenges of working remotely. Being flexible means you have resiliency, while being self-disciplined means you can stay on task. Use these tips to build a positive work-from-home experience that you can look back on as incredibly gratifying once you return to your physical workplace.
- National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC)
- Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)
- Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB)
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