Many workers have jobs that can be done from home, including consultants, marketing professionals, writers, and software engineers like those at BairesDev. But, if you’ve been working from home since the COVID-19 pandemic began, you may have mixed feelings about it.
Likely you’re grateful that you can continue to earn an income through a down economy. But if you have an inadequate workspace or kids needing to be supervised while you’re trying to concentrate, you might be wishing you were back at the office — long commute and all.
Or maybe you initially enjoyed having your living room as an office space, but the novelty of it is wearing off as this arrangement continues, perhaps much longer than you expected. If your work from home situation feels less than ideal right now, no matter what the reason, try these suggestions to help you carry on.
- See the Benefits
No matter how you feel about working from home, you can take comfort in the fact that it does offer a number of benefits. For one thing, working from home can make you more productive. If your kids, spouse, or other family members are home too, you get to spend more time with those you love.
Plus, all those little things you hate about the office (terrible coffee, too-strong perfume) are no longer an issue, your commute time is eliminated, and you have more control over how you spend your time.
- Optimize Technology
Your work from home experience will be much better if you have the right tools to help you stay productive. For starters, make sure your wired or Wi-Fi connection is robust and secure. Many employers will send an IT support person or pay for an outside tech professional to make sure your equipment is up to speed. If your Wi-Fi router is older than five years, you may need to replace it.
You also need the right applications to support your work, including communications software like Zoom or Slack, a project management application like Trello or Basecamp, and a distraction blocker like Freedom to help you avoid the temptation to look at social media all day.
- Stay Connected
When you work at home, it’s doubly important to communicate with your coworkers. But make time during breaks or off-hours to stay in touch with others as well, including family and friends. Set up virtual coffee or lunch dates or use fun apps like Netflix Party and Houseparty to play games or watch movies together.
Additionally, stay abreast of what’s happening in the world, but be careful not to overdo it. Consuming too much news, especially about the pandemic, can lead to a sense of hopelessness, or even depression. If you’re a news junkie, at least seek out positive stories to balance out the negative ones.
- Embrace Structure
If you’re uncomfortable working from home but aren’t sure why, it may be because you haven’t created a structure for yourself to mimic the one you had at the office. Use the following tips to incorporate more organization into your day:
- Have a designated workspace. You don’t have to designate an entire room as an office if that’s not practical in your home. But you should have a place set aside where you do your work each day, even if it’s the kitchen table. If it is, put all your work equipment into a storage bin when you finish each workday so you can use the space for other purposes as well.
- Plan your day. With work and home lives overlapping, it’s more important than ever to plan your day. Consider the needs of others in your household, including school-aged children and other adults who might be working at home as well. Designate times for concentration, meetings, and breaks.
- Have a morning routine. Even though you no longer have to get ready to go somewhere, you should still have a morning routine to help you gradually transition to “work mode.” Eat a healthy breakfast, take a shower, and anything else that will help you feel productive as you start your day.
- Remember Self-Care
Self-care is critical in these stressful times and everyone has their own version of it. The key is to do the things that keep you energized and healthy. Here are a few examples:
- Sleep well. One of the best things you can do for your health is to get a good night’s sleep. Don’t take your work into the bedroom with you. Or, if you must work there during the day, be sure to stash your work equipment out of sight at night.
- Eat right. Just as you would while you’re working at the office, plan your meals while working from home. In particular, be sure to have healthy snacks on hand.
- Get outside. Working and living at home can make you feel like you never leave the house, which is why you should plan time to do so each day.
- Exercise. Make time in your schedule for movement, even if it’s just a few simple stretches. Better yet, use your outside time to walk, bike, hike, or do whatever helps you feel most refreshed.
- Mental health. Check-in with yourself each day to determine if you need anything from a mental health perspective: a therapy appointment, a day off, or maybe just a nice, long bath.
Whether working at home is something you’ve been wanting to do for years or something you can’t wait to be done with, there are many things you can do to make it a better experience. Try the tips listed here to help you stay productive and happy in your alternative work environment.