Medically reviewed by Susan Kerrigan, MD and Marianne Madsen, University of Utah
For many people, a job working from home has been the golden pot at the end of the rainbow for a long time. Working from home is convenient and has less of an environmental impact than a job with a commute. For some people, it reduces their expenses. There are people who have work-from-home jobs that allow them to keep their young children at home with them, thus reducing child care expenses. Overall, working from home is seen as a positive thing, though it’s a benefit employers don’t always offer because they’re not sure of how it will work for their company or if someone will take advantage of having a lack of accountability.
During these times, however, many employers are making the switch to a remote-based team model. With current COVID-19 restrictions in places around the world (including suspending gatherings of 50+ people and remaining a distance of 6 feet from the next person), many offices don’t have the ability to meet those requirements in house. So instead of disbanding completely, they are allowing their employees to work from home–some for the first time ever.
If you already have a remote position, you’re probably an old pro at this. But for those people doing this for the first time, it may be overwhelming. How do you work from home? How do you set yourself up for success and not give in to endless binging of “The Office” on Netflix?
The first tip is to make sure you have the appropriate equipment. Are you able to use your own laptop or will your employer be providing you with one? Regardless of what laptop you use, make sure it meets all requirements in terms of graphics and memory. And don’t forget to check if you have all of the necessary programs installed on it. The benefit of using a laptop provided by your workplace is presumably that you’ll have more self control to abstain from procrastination, just like you would at the office.
Up next, how are you communicating with your office? Are you using a work phone? Cell phone? Landline? Or is your team going completely remote and using an application like Skype or Zoom for virtual meetings? You don’t want to be scrambling to install those apps the first time you’re called for a meeting. Perhaps even more importantly, make sure you have the bandwidth to run it all. Productivity will be shot if you can’t attend the virtual meeting because your bandwidth ran out or if your computer crashes running the company-specific VPN and say, Google Voice, at the same time.
In fact, simply staying connected if you are part of a team is critical to success. Even if you can’t meet in person, video calling and webcams can help you maintain a visual feeling of togetherness, almost like you’re grabbing a coffee from the break room together. Some teams are even using apps like Slack to chat in real time so you don’t even have to miss the water cooler gossip.
3. Work/Life Balance
Before you get too caught up in your new reality, maintaining a schedule and setting boundaries are great ways to keep your work/life balance, well, in balance. It’s easier to stay motivated and get in the zone if you’re not in pajamas. So get up, get dressed, and make your cup of coffee. It will help your brain realize that you’re actually working from home and not just at home and “happen” to be working. Setting boundaries will help family members realize that you’re working (no, you cannot just babysit their kids for an hour) and help your boss realize that work is over and you’re done for the day.
4. Take Breaks
Remember to take breaks! If you went to the office, you would have a lunch break, right? Well, working from home should be no different. You can’t be your best self if you’re working all of the time and a lunch break away from your work will help refresh your energy levels and mind.
Whether you’re working from home for the first time or have been working from home for a while already, we hope that these tips will help you make the best out of your situation.