With the rise of the coronavirus pandemic, mitigating the spread of COVID-19 has become a growing concern worldwide. This has put the safety of healthcare workers, including respiratory therapists, doctors, and nurses, on the line. Yet, despite their bravery and skill, the system cannot handle the predicted flux of patients. As such, to do our part, more of us are working from home to flatten the curve and prevent the spread of the disease.
Many of us have dreamed of working from the comfort of our homes, but the adjustment to our routine can disrupt our daily motivation and mental state. Setting boundaries between work and personal life and determining where and when to work are real challenges. Working remotely means coming face to face with your own personal motivation and battling your desire for leisure. However, despite the struggle, we encourage you to do your societal duty to stop the spread of coronavirus and help our healthcare workers as best as we can. At Proforma SI, we all have experience working from home and thought we would share some tips to manage the adjustment. Here are 10 tips to lead a more productive and happier WFH-life, based on our experience:
1. Create a morning routine and prepare for your day, mentally and physically.
Although you aren’t leaving the house, you should still get ready for your day. Have a shower, get dressed, and have some breakfast. Most importantly, our golden rule is not to touch your keyboard until you’ve had a coffee.
2. Set regular hours and sign in and out of notifications.
When you go to work, you have set hours. It shouldn’t be any different at home. Yet, overworking is a tremendous problem across those who work alone. While, of course, there is a degree of flexibility offered, for your mental health, you should set hours and stick to them. Doing so sets boundaries between your work and home life and ensures that the two do not bleed together. Do not offer your employer into your life 24 hours a day, and similarly, don’t let those you live with impact your working hours. However, while setting regular hours is essential, Terry Traut, CEO of Entelechy, urges people not to “feel guilty for that time you got up at 3:00 a.m. to document a brilliant thought. Likewise, don’t feel guilty for that morning walk in the woods.” It is all about balance and healthy, adaptable lines.
3. Create a dedicated office space with a good chair.
It can be a challenge to focus at home when you’re in spaces used by others and dedicated to different purposes. However, by putting a desk in a room with an ergonomically correct chair, you transform what was once a living room, or perhaps your kitchen, into an office for the next 8 hours. Don’t park yourself in front of the TV or next to your kid’s room, manage your workplace bubble and, in doing so, your mindset.
4. Define daily goals with to-do lists.
When you work alone, you should develop a more structured plan than normal. Prime productivity comes from organization and dedication, two things that can quickly fall to the wayside when Netflix-binges and social media become a real possibility 24-hours a day. Thus, the time-tested to-do list is fundamental to your success. If you want to compare your productivity, consider writing down what you would normally finish in a workday. From there, create reasonable goals and stick to them.
5. Take breaks.
The Canadian government mandates that employees do not work for more than five hours without having a 30-minute eating period free from work. While these standards are varied across workplaces, ensure that you maintain this minimum 30-minutes as time to rest every day. Enjoy some time to yourself!
6. Socialize with colleagues!
When you have the greatest team on the planet, it’s important that you don’t lose your connection in the coming weeks. Do you share a desk or regularly pass someone on the way to the water cooler? When you’re at work, regular interactions with your collages are normal. In fact, colleagues are the aspect that most people love most about their jobs. When we are most isolated, we should make an increased effort to connect with those around us. So, we encourage you to check in with your colleagues for at least a few minutes every day. Set up a group chat and share how you’re doing with the adjustment, what your kids are doing, or even your new playlist. This makes it easy to have fun and re-invite a sense of normalcy into your life.
7. Prepare healthy meals and snacks in advance.
It is all too easy to get stuck with the “there’s nothing to eat” scenario when you work from home. In fact, oftentimes, you’re more likely to rely on snack food to get you through your workday if you don’t prepare in advance. So, start meal prepping, and don’t fall into the WFH-food-dilemma!
8. Assume people have good intentions.
Changing from face-to-face to written communication will have implications on how you perceive and understand others. More often than not, a lot of meaning will be lost without the tone, and intentions will not be as clear. The best way to approach this shift is to assume people have good intentions and seek clarification as needed.
Additionally, managers should encourage others to share their opinions, so that everyone feels motivated to participate, even though they are not in the same room. What’s more, we suggest you switch up communication styles, don’t just stick to email, use Slack, Skype, and IM.
9. Ask for what you need.
Everyone works differently, and coupling the change in workstyles with the dynamic global environment, has raised stress levels across the board. The odds are that we all need a bit of help. Whether you need assistance understanding changes in your role, managing expectations, or completing tasks, you should reach out to your colleagues and supervisors. At times like this, we must hold on tight to the relationships we have established and do what we can for one another. More importantly, we should believe in the good of others and put trust in the abilities of those around us.
10. Dedicate your commute time to “you” time.
The average worker commutes for around 1 hour per day. We suggest you dedicate the time you would have been commuting to doing something to make you happy. After all, today we all have to take a minute to check in on our personal wellbeing. With the time you save, play some games, bake bread, or do yoga. Do something to make you happy and enjoy the benefit of working from home.
Bonus: Schedule distractions
Today, the odds are that there are increased distractions at home, whether other people are home, the economy is tanking, or you’re worried about the health of others (and yourself!). However, while these challenges can easily take over your mind, for your sanity and your efficiency, it is critical that they don’t. To avoid this, communicate with those around you when you need quiet time. Additionally, set timers for yourself, and push issues beyond work from your mind until they go off. If you plan to take a 15-minute break at 11, set a 2-hour timer when you start work and don’t spend long contemplating other problems until it goes off. While it is not a flawless system, this will help to improve your concertation and willpower to enjoy your new WFH lifestyle.
Working from home increases flexibility and independence in your working life. With that, it holds the potential to improve your wellbeing. While practicing social distancing is hard, with these tips in hand, we hope you are able to make the most out of our current situation and build better habits. Remember, healthcare workers are going to work to help us; we need to stay home to help them.