With the current uncertain times the world is facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many professionals are being forced into a work-from-home arrangement. For those accustomed to a dedicated workspace outside of the home, being mandated to work in the same place you are used to relaxing in is disorienting at best and debilitating at worst! Making the adjustment to working from home can be more challenging than many believe. Even if you are organised, focused and motivated, there are distractions and other challenges that can get in the way of productivity. Or it is possible that without the notion of walking out of the office door at 5 pm each night, you will work so much that you will burn out. Here at Public Service Resumes, we are very used to working from home, so we sought some feedback from our team in order to provide you with the best advice for adjusting to working from home.
1. Get out of your pyjamas!
We often hear people gloat about working at home in their pyjamas! However, our team members at Public Service Resumes can count on one hand the times they have done that! Why? Because working in pyjamas puts us in the wrong mindset and if we were to stay in our sleepwear, we would feel like nothing more than snuggling up on the couch, which of course, is counterproductive to getting work done! Instead, we are big believers in dressing as though we are still going to work or a meeting. We are not talking a full corporate outfit with a suit and tie, but what we have found to be really effective is putting on a nice smart-casual outfit – something you would not be afraid to go out in public wearing.
2. Have a dedicated workspace
It is easier than you can imagine for your work and personal life to merge together when you work from home. The best way to focus on work is to have a space that is only for work. While many successful entrepreneurs started their business at the kitchen table or bedroom, these are not the ideal environments for a home office set-up. It is too easy to get distracted by dirty dishes, laundry sitting on the bed or the television. Ideally, you want an office space with a door you can close, especially if there are other family members or housemates at home and/or you need to make an important call. Not only will making these adjustments help you to focus and remain productive, but it can be a crucial aspect of being able to make a home office an actual tax deduction.
3. Set a schedule and stick to it
Are you aware of what work you need to complete as soon as you sit down at your desk? Not surprisingly, it can take most people some time to orient themselves and figure out what needs to be done as soon as they clock on for the day. Having a set schedule ensures that you know what tasks you need to complete and when they are due by each day. Because you tend to take on more responsibilities when you are working at home, spend some time in strategically setting up your daily schedule. Productivity is less about great time management and more about strategic focus. In addition to this, make a point of “arriving” on time and leaving at the end of the workday.
4. Anticipate and mitigate distraction
There are many issues that you can anticipate and avoid when working from home. Some distractions can be overcome by having a separate office and setting a schedule, but other distractions such as children, pets, the refrigerator, TV and a nice comfy couch can be constant work interruptions. The best ways to manage these are to take some time considering your life and habits in order to identify potential distractions and put things in place to avoid them. For example, taking your dog for a walk before the workday starts, making work calls after hours when you have help with the children, researching different ways to keep the kids busy while you work and also dedicating some time to them during breaks in your schedule.
5. Look after your health and wellbeing
It can be draining to see the same four walls every day when you work from home, and it can also get quite lonely. When there is no office to influence spontaneous informal communication, you must be intentional about weaving it into your day. You can achieve this by scheduling regular coffee chats with co-workers using a videocall, creating a group Skype chatroom, or simply making a voice call. Talk about what you normally would. If sports, vacation plans and hilarious tales of insubordination by children are common watercooler material, then work with your team to maintain some familiarity and establish a chat channel to discuss things outside of work. The medium may be different, but the connection is the same.
Also, make sure you are maintaining healthy eating habits. The Public Service Resumes team will be the first to admit that there have been many times where we have not eaten nutritiously while working from home. While it should be the easiest place to eat healthily, it is also the easiest to pick up something unhealthy when in a rush to meet a deadline. The best way to overcome this is to prepare some healthy options after hours and on the weekend. If you have a stash of healthy options for yourself during the workday, you will be less likely to reach for the leftover pizza or block of chocolate for a quick snack.
Exercise also helps while being cooped up at home. On a daily basis, try and get up and move and get fresh air if you can. A long walk, ride or swim will clear your head and help hit the reset button.
6. Remember – this will not last forever!
Working from home does not come naturally for most people. Companies built on the expectation of gathering people in the same shared physical space each day will experience challenges when adjusting to a purely work-from-home environment.
While it has been an adjustment for many, the working from home opportunity is a temporary solution. There will come a time when everyone has to go back to the office. And if you are already bored at home, try to remember that it’s not forever!