working from home

If your company is navigating the choppy waters of working from home right now, you’re not alone. Many businesses have chosen or been forced to exchange collaborative workspaces for home offices — inserting potentially long distances in between normally close-quarter colleagues. While remote work has become increasingly more common among today’s workforce, it may be daunting to those accustomed to the comforts of a designated office. You may be asking yourself: how do we do this?

The month of March has thrust upon us a long list of new normals. Students are home, jobs are eliminated, travel is canceled, and toilet paper is a commodity. Tack on the disruption of your normal work schedule and getting things done can seem nearly impossible. It’s important to remember that we’re all navigating this uncertainty together. While we’re learning how to live apart to protect our physical health, we have to work together and support one another to protect our mental health and our livelihoods. That is why we’ve compiled this list of reminders for everyone who is learning to do full-time remote work for the first time. Take from it what you need and share it with a friend. They’ll be happy to hear from you.

Check-in, but Then Check Out

 Often, we spend more waking hours with our coworkers than we do with our friends and family. Sometimes, they become our friends and family — and that’s not something we ignore. We lean on each other for support. We belly laugh when Craig from marketing interjects with his perfect comedic timing. And we’re all going through this together. It’s natural to want to get the details on how and what everyone is doing right now. Just be wary of the time you’re taking up. A quick “how are you” can spiral into a time-sucking slack exchange. Before you know it, you suddenly realize what you were calling “connection” could be more aptly named “procrastination.” Isolation can be overwhelming, and the need for human connection is real–just don’t let it lead to more stress or overwork because you’re putting off those tasks that have to get done. Which brings me to the next tip:

Shut It Off When It’s Time To Shut It Off.

We know the allure. It’s all here in arm’s reach and you can do it from your bed. We love an ambitious person as much as the next, but overextending yourself on a daily basis is a quick recipe for burnout. If you’re spending your evening hours deep in the depths of spreadsheets and strategy, come Thursday the thought of looking at your computer screen is probably more repulsive than a root canal. The problem is, you’ll still have to look at it. You may just deliver subpar work — and that’s no good for anyone.

Break Up Your Day

If you have an ideal home office, working from your house can actually be great for productivity. If that’s you, congratulations and well done! This tip is for you. It may seem like the dream scenario to plow through your task list with no interruptions. No colleagues passing by and stopping to chat, no quick “got a minute” meetings, but pretty soon you may find yourself 5 hours into your day and wondering: have I even stood up today? This, my friends, is not sustainable. Try breaking up your morning into 2-hour work blocks. Set a timer and take a tour of your house when it goes off. Got stairs? Perfect! Climb them! If you’re working from home, it’s not absurd to keep a yoga mat by your desk. Take a pause from work and move your body. Stretch. Hydrate. Take some deep breaths. Getting your blood pumping can actually increase your productivity levels so you’ll be more effective when you do get back to work.

Don’t Meet Too Much

This one might be hard to hear, but if you’re in a meeting, work is not being done. We know it’s intuitive to want to connect to your team when you can no longer see them, but you may not be doing as much good as you think you are. Our advice: Take this opportunity to reevaluate your meeting schedule. Keep those that are necessary, but resist the urge to schedule additional meetings just to make sure everyone is staying on schedule. If you need to relay information, think about the best way to communicate. Consider whether you may be disrupting someone’s flow. Can your update be delivered effectively in an email or slack? If not, schedule the meeting. Avoid impromptu virtual meetings as much as possible. Some urgent conversations may be inevitable,  just be mindful that you’re interrupting someone’s workflow. You never know what kind of genius idea they miss when their focus is unexpectedly pulled from what they’re working on.

Call a Friend

Feeling lonely, unfocused, or uninspired? Call your funniest friend and enjoy lunch together. Facetime a  family member and share a virtual coffee. Whether you need a laugh, a place to put your anxiety, or just a moment of connection, it’s more important than ever to reach out for those things. You can schedule these calls in the same way you would schedule a work-related meeting to ensure you’re being mindful of your loved one’s time (and reminding them to respect yours!). 

Cut Yourself a Little Slack

This part isn’t always as easy as it seems. We are all affected mentally and emotionally by the challenge, disruption, and uncertainty we are facing. Take care of yourself and your loved ones. Do something nice for someone you don’t know — from at least 6 feet away. Wash your hands. If at all possible, stay home. 

We are strong and resilient. Although (and largely because) we are practicing social distancing, together, we will get through this.