How to stay on track when working from home
Canadians across the country have been asked to work from home as much as possible to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). For many, working from home for a day or two at a time can be a welcome break from going into the office — but when you're asked to work from home indefinitely, it can be tough to concentrate and stay motivated, especially when you might have more distractions than normal. Here are a few tips that might help you keep things as close to "business as usual" as possible until you get back to the office:
- Set up your workspace in a way that will help you focus and do your job most effectively. While some people might have a dedicated home office space, others might have to get a little more creative when it comes to choosing a workspace. No matter where you've chosen to get set up, take some time to tidy up your workspace and add your own finishing touches, like "desk plants," an extension cord to plug in all of your technology, and even a Bluetooth speaker to play the radio in the background if that's what you're used to.
- Keep your routine as close to normal as possible. Wake up at the same time every day, get dressed and ready as if you were going into the office (but wear comfy clothes for a little self-care), and start and end your workday around the same time each day. Depending on who else is at home on a daily basis, it might be tough to keep your normal 9-to-5 schedule, and you may want to shift your "office hours" around a little to avoid distractions.
- Take breaks at your regular break times and get away from your work. Make yourself something to eat and have a virtual "lunch date" with a friend, watch an episode of your favourite TV show, do a quick at-home workout or yoga video, or get outside for some fresh air (just make sure you maintain a safe distance from others). Whatever you choose to do, you'll feel most refreshed if you can get your mind off of your work for a little while, which should help you stay productive for the rest of the day. If you have kids at home, consider taking a lunch break together and planning out their activities for the afternoon.
- Hold meetings using video conferencing instead of phone calls whenever possible. This can help you feel more connected to your colleagues and give you some much-needed human contact to help lift your spirits. It's also a good excuse to get up and get dressed in the morning instead of staying in your pajamas.
- Have a video chat with a colleague or two when you need some "watercooler talk." If you're used to being in close contact with your colleagues and talking about what's going on in your lives outside of the office, you're likely to miss that type of break and connection while working from home. A short video conference about things that aren't necessarily work related could be a good substitute for conversations you normally would have had in the office.
Working from home with kids
If you have kids who are also stuck at home right now, it can be especially challenging to balance work and family life without being able to physically go to work. Consider these tips for working from home while your kids are there, too:
- Pre-pack meals and snacks similar to what you would normally send to school, and make sure your kids know where to find them when they're hungry.
- Set boundaries and make sure your kids understand when you will be taking an important call or working on something urgent.
- When you take a break, get some fresh air with your kids in the backyard — you could even set up an obstacle course to help them get out some of their energy.
- Consider creating a daily schedule of activities for your kids that don't require your help or supervision (depending on their age), and choose the most engaging activities for times when you will be taking important calls or working on urgent assignments.
- Last but not least, don't be too hard on yourself if your kids get more screen time than usual right now — letting them sit and watch a movie or two can be a great way to keep them occupied, and it requires very little time and effort on your end.
What to do if you still have to go to work
If you're unable to work from home and you still have to go work, ask your employer what you can do to practice social distancing while you're on the job. No matter what you do, avoid touching your mouth and face, and wash your hands as often as possible. Before you get into your vehicle at the end of the day, be sure to wash or sanitize your hands to avoid bringing germs into your vehicle or your home.
Share these tips on Facebook or Twitter to help other friends who are stuck working from home right now, too.