Transitioning from the Boardroom to the Spare Bedroom
As of 2018, 3.6% of the U.S. employee workforce currently work from home at least half-time or more. But now as many cities remain on stay-at-home orders due to the coronavirus pandemic more employees are joining the remote workforce. For those who have never, or rarely worked from home the transition can be difficult which is why it is important to know how to work from home effectively.
Know the Ground Rules
Does your employer require you to work a set nine-to-five schedule, or is there flexibility? What tools and tech do you need to do your job as you would in the office? Do you need to install Zoom or Skype for video conferencing, or Slack or Microsoft Teams for group chats? These are things that are now needed when working from home. Make sure your employer spells out the ground rules as well as making sure you have any needed equipment such as laptops and all needed passwords and logins. It is important that while you may be working from home you are operating the same as you would if you were in the office.
Set Up a Functional Workspace
Not everyone has a designated home office or a desk to do their work, but it is still vital to have a private, quiet space for you to do work. Your new “office” should be an area that mentally prepares you for work mode. One of the best alternatives to a home office would be a spare or guest bedroom that you could turn into a makeshift home office. Not only is it a room you rarely use but it most likely has a door allowing you to shut out any distractions.
However, if you do not have a separate room to work in things like your dining room or kitchen table or a small desk set up in the corner of your living room also works. The most important thing is to not set up your working space in a place you would go to relax. That means avoiding your bedroom and your sofa at all possible costs. Your new working area needs to be a place that both you and the other members of your household know are designated for work. By doing this it becomes easier for you to differentiate between work and personal time.
Another big issue when working remotely is learning how to minimize distractions. It is important to make sure everyone in your household knows when you will be working and that when you are working, you are not available to engage in idle chit chat.
Shared spaces can get noisy, so if your workspace is not isolated consider investing in noise-canceling headphones. Not only will they help drown out any background noise and help you avoid getting distracted, but they can signal to others you are not to be disturbed.
However, this pandemic has created another layer of difficulty as many parents have had to take on the additional role of teacher. If possible, try setting up a detailed schedule for both you and your children, this way they know when they should be working and when you are available to help them. If you have younger children and a significant other at home with you, set up a care schedule between the two of you.
When it comes to business meetings try to avoid having your children (and pets) in them. While yes, they may be adorable, they will only provide further distractions for both you and your co-workers.
As COVID-19 continues to change our way of life and way of doing business, it is important to remember that working from is not a perfect science. Instead, it is all about finding what works best for you.
We will probably never get used to living in a world with a global pandemic. A world with so many uncertainties and unknowns. That is why it is important to find structure and balance wherever you can. And as we adjust to life amid COVID-19 know that we will get through this, together.