Although working from home through online channels has been around since the 1980s, remote work did not start to thrive until the early 2000s. With the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home has become the new normal for thousands of people around the world. So how can these new telecommuters adjust to this new work lifestyle? Below, we’ll discuss 6 steps anyone can take to make working from home an easier transition.
Set aside a designated area for work
Make a schedule
Use an essential oil diffuser to relax and focus
Make sure your new “co-workers” know the rules
Communicate more than usual
Let’s go deeper:
1. Set aside a designated work area
This may seem like an easy idea, but it can be easier said than done if you don’t have a home office. Dining room tables can be hard and uncomfortable, while sitting on the couch can ruin your back. Set up a comfortable area with a hard surface to work on, like a desk, vanity, or table. Pad a dining room chair with seat cushions or pillows or order an office chair if you know you’ll be working from home for a longer period of time. Try to work near a window or flood the room with soft light. Working in the dark can strain your eyes, and natural sunlight is good for a mood boost.
This designated area does not necessarily need to be inside your house. Often times with everyone home from work and school your house could become too hectic to focus. Steve Johnson with 'Too Much Tina' finds it easier to get outside and away from the house to work. "Get into a car and drive someplace quiet and still, like a park or a business that is still closed. We can work on our laptop inside the car, and use our phone as a hotspot for Wi-Fi. Cars work particular well when needing a quiet place for conference calls and Zoom meetings."
2. Make a schedule
Try to stick to a daytime schedule. You may not want to get up at the same time every day, especially after a few too many stay-at-home drinks the night before but picking and staying with a schedule will help your body and mind work more efficiently. Communicate this schedule with your co-workers, if it is different than your normal working hours, so that you can work effectively as a team.
Make sure your schedule includes a lunch hour and a few breaks. It can be easy to forget to get up and move around when you feel like you need to keep working, but breaks help your mind to relax and refocus on new tasks. Read a chapter of a book, run a load of laundry, take a walk, or find other ways to let your mind wander for just a few minutes each day.
Becky Beach with Mom Beach let us in on a great technique to use when planning out your days work. "Use the Pomodoro technique where you time block for 25 minutes at a time. This helps you narrow your focus and get more tasks done quickly. For 5 minutes between the time blocks, you can get up and stretch or get a snack."
3. Try relaxing and focusing with essential oils
Working from home can be very distracting with kids, partners, roommates, and a cozy bed to pull you away from work. Stay focused by using essential oils in a diffuser that boost concentration, alertness, and memory like frankincense, rosemary, lemon, peppermint, or basil. I have a beautiful blend of rosemary and eucalyptus running right now!
You can also use essential oils to relax and destress, allowing you to separate work life from home life. Try using a few drops of soothing essential oils like lavender, bergamot, clary sage, frankincense or ylang-ylang in a carrier oil or hand cream to wind down after a hard day at work.
4. Make sure your new “co-workers” know the rules
Working from home can be an adjustment for everyone in the house. If you have kids, they will be in your space and they will want your attention. Make sure you lay down a basic set of rules, like how to handle things when you’re on the phone or need to focus. If your roommate or partner is also working from home, be sure to coordinate about simple things like playing music through a speaker or in headphones or whether it’s okay to have the TV on for background noise. Remember that everyone works differently and what works for you may not work for someone else. Be considerate and patient, this is a big change for everyone.
Adam Sanders with Successful Release told us just how important communication with others in your household is to your productivity. "It's very important psychologically and for your productivity to be intentional with your physical boundaries. Whether I'm working in a dedicated office, at a kitchen table, or on the couch I communicate with those around me that I'm still at work."
This tip works hand in hand with having a schedule because setting aside extra time throughout the day to play with your kids or the dog helps to keep everyone relaxed and working together peacefully.
5. Communicate more than usual
Communication is always a big deal in the office. Did you know that most employers look for soft skills like effective speaking and writing just as much as specializations? Working from home requires even more communication. Be clear and concise about deadlines, timelines, and meetings. Use apps like Microsoft Teams or Slack to quickly chat co-workers without clogging your email inbox. Schedule video chat check-ins to have back and forth discussions and move along projects. Stuck on a project or need some help? Reach out to others and encourage them to do the same with you.
This can also mean communicating with yourself! Kazi Hassan with Codesign tells us how he remained productive by communicating the cork he needs to get done everyday and holding himself accountable. "I would still say that productivity has remained high after the initial adjustment period. I have been creating a to-do list of my tasks and focusing on completing them by the day end. So even if I do take that afternoon off, I know what tasks remain to be done and I can do it later in the evening."
6. Socialize online!
It’s really easy to get stuck in a work from home abyss of anti-socialization. Find ways to interact with coworkers like you would in the office. Video chat, catch up over the phone, or start a departmental group chat in Slack or Teams. Yes, you should discuss some work in these online meetings, but don’t be afraid to interact like you normally would in the office. It’s okay to be a little informal or silly with the right group of coworkers. Obviously, you shouldn’t be sending TGIF gifs to your boss (unless they’re really that cool), but it’s okay to have a laugh every now and again too. Working from home doesn’t mean you have to turn into a work-obsessed robot.
Alex Zlatin wanted to keep the communication open between his team as he valued the ability for them to collaborate. "We had to determine a single tool for collaboration. One that will be encompassing and robust enough to fit our needs and solid enough to stay with us when we return to the new normal at the office. We chose Microsoft365, which includes access to Microsoft Teams. It has served us well in the last 2 months and a half and has definitely been one of the pillars of our success."
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