As much of the world adjusts to mandatory work from home policies, it can feel like a lot of our questions go unanswered, while even more new questions keep popping up. Although answers may be hard to come by, it’s important that everyone adapts and makes the most of their new set of working circumstances. Here are seven tips that you should try to incorporate into your new work from home setup.
1. Maintain a sleep schedule – It can be very tempting to take advantage of your newfound free time a little too much. Your new morning commute consists of rolling from your bed to your desk or table, maybe even a few minutes before your work hours start. While that in and of itself might not be bad, you may want to ensure it is not a result of you changing your sleep schedule too much. If, normally, you go to bed at 10:00 pm but now you are going to bed at midnight or later, you are ultimately doing yourself a disservice. Your body thrives on a set sleep schedule, and trying to break from this new “schedule” when you return to normal work will be that much harder.
2. Take breaks – Chances are, breaks are a part of your standard work life at the office. Do you take a lunch, morning break and afternoon break? Do you stand up to talk to your coworkers or grab a cup of coffee from the break room? Do you go on a walk when the weather is nice? Don’t let these healthy activities slip away when you are working from home. Breaks are important for your stress levels and for your creativity and productivity. Do you live with family or roommates? You don’t have to ignore them for nine hours, throw in some short, meaningful conversations. Take a nice lunch – or, better yet – use that time to make yourself a fresh, healthy lunch. No matter what, be sure to get some fresh air. We should be practicing social distancing, but remember that this isn’t a Sci-Fi Apocalypse movie, the air outside your home won’t kill you. *Note: Please refer to your particular government’s instructions about being outside. Rural, suburban and urban habitations may experience different restrictions. If legally possible and safe, get some fresh air!*
3. Create a dedicated office space – It can be easy to wake up, grab your laptop and start working. If I were to guess, I would say it’s about 15 minutes before your back or neck starts to hurt and you try to find another effective position. Chances are, all of your other equipment or documents are out of reach, like your headset, mouse, notepad and so on. If you have the space or ability to set an area (preferably with a comfortable desk and chair) as a dedicated office space, even if just temporarily, it can greatly improve your situation. It can help cut down on distractions, improve your physical health and posture and help you be more productive in a comfortable typing position.
4. Resist the snack temptations – If you are an individual who enjoys social media in your free time, you’ve likely seen a dozen or so posts and memes about people who have already eaten all of their “quarantine snacks.” You laugh for a few seconds and then realisation dawns on you: have you been monitoring your snack intake? With a refrigerator and pantry now just steps away, stocked with your favourite foods, it can be easy to mindlessly grab those foods and not think twice about them. In the short term, this may not be a big deal. But as working from home extends to several weeks or longer, this will start to impact your health and wallet. Be sure to set yourself a snack plan – limit how many times you can reach for a snack, limit your snack portions and limit how many non-healthy snacks those can be. If you have visited the market or seen the news lately, you’ve likely seen how some people are panicking and stocking up on certain items (as useful or useless as they may be). I’ve noticed, however, that the fresh produce area is still well stocked. Grab some apples, oranges, carrots and more and supplement some of your processed snacks with fresh fruit and vegetables. Your body will thank you!
5. Learn something new – If you fall into the camp of people that say, “I just don’t have enough time to read that book, to learn a new instrument or to fix that leaky pipe or squeaky floorboard,” well, congratulations, you probably have enough time now. These are confusing and worrying times, but that doesn’t mean we can’t prepare for better times or improve ourselves or our condition in the process. Reading opens up new worlds of creativity, learning a new instrument can increase your appreciation of art and express yourself in new ways and fixing your house can improve the comfort of everyone that lives there. Make sure that you use your extra free time to invest in something you love to do or need to do, and take care of yourself.
6. Be considerate of coworkers with kids – You will more than likely have to engage in virtual meetings or video calls with coworkers or clients while working from home. Day by day, more schools and daycares are closing down out of an abundance of safety and in order to comply with health officials’ recommendations. This results in parents, who are working from home, and kids, who might not have classes anymore, being in the same house or flat at the same time. Inevitably, you may hear the child in the background of the meeting, or your coworker may have to hold or comfort their children during a virtual call. At this time, you might need to extend a little bit of extra grace to those who are in inconvenient situations and are trying to juggle work and kids at the same time. Your meeting will complete, your work will get done and the world will keep spinning. It’s okay if you hear kids in the background, let’s celebrate the parents who are managing to achieve so much at the same time.
7. Be positive – This final tip cannot be stressed enough. Your mind and body do not need you to be viewing everything negatively all the time. Obviously, that is often much easier said than done, but the principle and truth behind it remain the same. The world is reeling from this change in life together – you are not alone. While you should pay attention to the WHO and what the government is announcing, and you should practice the health and safety tips that they provide, they cannot overwhelm your thoughts. Focus on the positives that this circumstance brings: you have more time with the people and family immediately around you, you have time to improve yourself and your skills, you are saving on commuting time and costs, and you can finally watch that show you’ve been putting off, you can start your hobby up again and so on. These unfortunate and worrying circumstances have upset a lot of our normal lives, but some of the changes that we are forced to undergo don’t have to be looked at negatively. Enjoy what can be enjoyed while doing your part to help the situation.
There are a dozen more tips that could be written here, but you’re already being shouted at from a dozen other directions, we don’t need to shout helpful tips at you too. Take some time and try to incorporate these ideas into your daily life and see if you can improve things a little bit for yourself and the people around you.