Two years ago (almost to the day), I shared a piece here titled, “Today’s Office.” I didn’t know at the time that there would be a sequel, but that was before this bizarre moment in history.
COVID-19 has single-handedly led a global movement of remote work. Millions of people are suddenly working from their kitchen tables, couches, and home offices. Some for the very first time. Given that I am a pro at working from nearly anywhere, I thought I’d share some of my tips for working remotely in the age of coronavirus.
1. Do your best to stick to your regular routine
For me, achieving a healthy work-life balance is about sticking to my regular routine and maintaining a sense of normalcy. This starts with creating a work space — whatever that means for you. I like to alternate between moving my standing desk to the window and sitting at my regular desk, which is sandwiched between my kitchen and living room. Try to “clock in” at the same time you usually would and, as tempting as it is to stay in pajamas all day, you’ll be more productive if you get dressed for work in the morning. That being said, it is casual Friday every day when you work from home.
2. Say “hello” to other humans
More introverted folks may be handling social isolation better than others, but social interaction is healthy for all of us, so please check in with your human friends, family, and colleagues! My office has a daily Zoom call set up so we can check in with each other throughout the day via video calls or the chat feature. If you don’t have access to Zoom – Facebook and What’s App are options. Many of my meetings have moved to video conferences, and there is something to be said about having a virtual face-to-face.
3. Take a break (and squeeze in some exercise)
It is hard not to lose track of time when working from home. If you start on time, please end on time and don’t forget lunch! Take regular breaks and, if possible, get outside for a little sunshine and exercise. We’ve taken the time each day to take a walk around the parking lot or follow along with a digital yoga class on YouTube. I am a creature of habit, so I tend to follow a consistent break schedule: coffee at 10 AM, lunch at 12:30 PM, snack and more coffee at 3 PM, punch out at 5:30 PM.
4. Be realistic about what you can (and can’t) do
You likely won’t be as productive as you are in the office, or perhaps you’ll be as productive, but the tasks you’re able to accomplish are different than if you were in the office. Prior to leaving the office at the end of last week, I grabbed everything I could possibly need and started a “quarantine to-do list.” Be realistic with what you can and can’t accomplish from home and don’t be too hard on yourself. This is a strange time for all of us.
For me, things are very quiet. I’ve had the time and the space to give attention to the ideas that have been percolating in the back of my mind for months. Much of my time has been spent working on writing projects I don’t often have uninterrupted time for.
I’ve carved out some time for professional development — I’ve been reading the books that have been on my desk for ages and watching webinars I bookmarked months ago.
5. Make time for you
This is a very strange time for all of us. Inside things may be calm and quiet, but outside there is a strange air of panic. Take the time to take care of you. Learn a new skill, return to an old hobby, read something just for fun, and pay a little extra attention to your pets. I am enjoying all the extra time I get to spend with my rabbit while practicing social distancing, and Luna is happy to have the extra attention of her humans. When I clock out, I have been spending my time learning how to block print (following along with Sarah Koff Studio’s tutorial on Instagram), stitching, and baking cookies.
Finding a balance may seem insurmountable for many at the moment, especially if finding a designated, quiet, distraction-free space isn’t easy (e.g. if you have children who are home). I’ll offer the same call-to-action I did two years ago in part I of “Today’s Office”: show us your office today in the comments and tell us how you are managing to stay productive, inspired, and energized in your office-away-from-office?