As originally published in Parade, March 17, 2020
How to Work from Home During Coronavirus—13 Tips to Stay Motivated, Sane and Productive
This info was accurate at press time, and we’re continuing to update our coronavirus coverage as we learn more.
The coronavirus pandemic forced a slew of companies to work remotely during social distancing periods. Working from home definitely has its perks, but it also requires a few adjustments if you’ve never done it before. It can be difficult to stay motivated, focused and productive when you have distractions like kids getting cabin fever, daytime TV, a potentially noisy partner and laundry visibly piling up right before your eyes. But don’t worry, if you’re wondering how to work from home during coronavirus, we got you.
1. Maintain a Routine
“Keep your routines as best you can,” Janel Dyan, executive brand strategist and author of Story. Style. Brand. Why Corporate Results Are a Matter of Personal Style warns. “Too much ‘downtime’ is not a good thing when times are uncertain, and keeping your usual routines helps us have a sense of control. Wake up and go to bed as usual, eat healthy, manage your work hours and find time to do the things that you always do.”
2. Make Sure You Have the Right Gear
Jono Bacon, CEO of Jono Bacon Consulting, community strategist and author of People Powered: How Communities Can Supercharge Your Business, Brand, and Teams, points out that a lot of us suddenly relegated to working remotely don’t always have what we need. He recommends the following to be efficient and comfortable outside of your usual office setting:
- A computer and high-quality Internet connection that can (where possible) support video-calls
- A desk for your computer, papers, and other items (standing desks are becoming increasingly popular as an option)
- A comfortable, ergonomic chair
- Ideally, a separate monitor, keyboard, and mouse (to reduce eye and wrist strain)
3. Test Your Tech and Keep It Secure
Be sure you can actually physically do your job from home!
“If you aren’t already quarantined by now, test your ability to effectively send emails, access and edit documents, access all applications, answer phone calls, and use your webcam for video chats, and make a note of any issues in advance so your company’s IT team can resolve,” Heinan Landa, CEO of Optimal Networks and author of The Modern Law Firm: How to Thrive in an Era of Rapid Technological Change recommended. “To ensure a secure workspace, if you can, use company-provided equipment that has centralized and up-to-date anti-malware, backup, screen lock, etc. and don’t let kids or family on it. For critical applications and accounts, be sure to use two-factor authentication; never use WiFi without using a VPN (Virtualized Personal Network); stay vigilant against suspicious emails or phone calls that ask for personal information; and stick to official health websites when communicating important messages about the pandemic to your team.”
4. Get Dressed …
Bacon recommends getting dressed when working from home to create structure for yourself and help you stick to your schedule. “Always get dressed, always make time for breakfast and lunch, and take breaks,” he said. “You are not a robot. This solidification of the schedule will make your work feel more predictable and managed.”
5. Or Don’t
Listen, pants aren’t for all of us. Don’t feel bad about it! “Embrace the mess. I see a lot of people advising others to ‘get dressed’ and ‘look the part’ for the new virtual office hours,” Miri Rodriguez, creative journalist for Microsoft and author of Brand Storytelling: Put Customers at the Heart of Your Brand Story says. “If we’re gonna be honest, attempting to recreate an IRL working experience during these stressful times will only add to the stress. Instead, go with the flow that feels best for you. Your dog might be barking in the background. You may be on the phone while also trying to put puzzles together with your toddler. It is all messy and it is alright. These are not normal times, so it’s OK to not be normal. Besides, normal is just a setting on the dryer.”
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