With the outbreak of the coronavirus, working from home is the new reality for millions of U.S. workers. Even if you are someone who has worked from home before, working from home because of the coronavirus may feel completely different. For most of us, it was a sudden change and we are not sure how long it will last.
There are people who are struggling with loneliness, managing their time, and communication. In addition, with schools and colleges shut down, working parents are trying to juggle company and family priorities.
We have seen tons of articles providing suggestions on how to best work from home. At The Brandon Agency, we have multiple offices and many people who work from home on a regular basis. We know that this situation is different, but we have some ideas to help you find what works for you.
How to be productive working from home:
Dress for success
Get up and get dressed like you are going to work – no PJs.
Plan your day just as you would if going to the office
Know what your schedule is, what work you need to accomplish for the day, and stay focused on completing these items.
Take short breaks between projects, meetings, and periods of productivity. Find time to stretch and clear your mind with a little fresh air; whether it’s a short walk or just sitting on your porch. Oh! And don’t forget to stop and eat lunch.
Background noise or not
Find out if you can work with TV/Radio/background noise or if you are a person who needs silence to be productive. Then, put yourself in the best position for success.
Communicating your schedule with both your colleagues and your family at home provides boundaries to help balance your priorities and sanity during this time. Let your team members know your schedule so they are aware of when you are available. And, in return, communicate with your family when you have meetings where you cannot be interrupted. Posting a schedule on the fridge of your calendar can be helpful so they know not to bother you during important calls.
Set up a workspace
Try to simulate a true work environment as much as you can. In doing so, it allows you to have a place that you can focus on your work that isn’t the same place where you relax and unwind after a hard day “at the office.”
Your significant other at home, too? While weeks in the same house may have you craving some “me time,” take advantage of the workday and separate yourself from your spouse if you are both working from home. You wouldn’t bring him or her to the office, so don’t do it at home.
Be aware of sound
Headphones will become one of your most valued work tools. When you have multiple people under one roof, meetings might overlap, your child’s at-home-schooling could be in session, or the reverb from your computer might create an echo. Utilizing headphones provides privacy and respect for all parties involved.
Also, remember not to blind call your co-workers. Ask before you call, so if a person is working close to other family members who are also working, they can move and focus on your needs.
You’re at home. Distractions are running ramped. Give yourself a fighting chance to stay on task and focused on the work that needs to be completed. Log out of social media. Do chores before or after work. Utilize the Pomodoro Technique. Get creative with what works for you but do minimize them as much as possible.
Be visible and check in on your teams
Use your video capabilities whenever you can, so that you can see and still connect with teammates. Plus, it helps lessen the isolation of social distancing and gives you a fresh face to see on the other side of the screen.
Separate yourself from work at the end of the day
Set an end-of-day time and stick to it. Put your things away and separate from work.
Don’t beat yourself up
Some days are going to be easier than others. This is a very stressful time – just do your best.
How to work with kids in the house:
Though many parents have worked from home when a kid is sick or the weather is bad, the reality of working remotely every single day alongside your kids is definitely new territory. While we understand that intent and results do not always align, we do have some ideas and tips from our Moms and Dads that they have found useful.
Make your office off-limits, where mom and dad can work and it’s off-limits for kids. Create some kind of signal that your kids can use to let you know if there is an emergency.
Set a schedule with your spouse or partner so that you can each have uninterrupted work time. This could be done in a variety of ways. Try large blocks by having mom work in the morning and dad in the afternoon. Or smaller shifts around work meetings and deadlines.
Work when they are sleeping
Work in the morning before your kids get up or at night after they go to bed. The more hours you can squeeze into non-kid time, the easier it will be.
Help your kids connect electronically
Your kids were thrust into this new situation quickly too and most are missing friends and family. Help them Facetime, Zoom or call friends so they can get some social interaction. It is amazing how it improves their mood.
Give kids more responsibility
Kids like to help. In addition to daily school activities, add a daily chore. This is a great time to teach them something new like how to sort laundry, dust shelves, or even empty the dishwasher.
Encourage them to get outside and move
Kids need fresh air and exercise, too. This will give you some quiet time to get things done and help them feel and sleep better.
Limit screen time
It is easy to turn on the TV or give your kids an electronic device to occupy their time. Encourage them to read a book and reward them when they complete it. i.e. completing so many pages could earn them a camping night in the backyard.
Create a schedule
Just like creating a schedule for your workday helps you, it also can help your kids. Work with them to create a daily schedule or routine they can follow which includes schoolwork, outside time, screen time, exercise, socializing with friends and family and quiet time.
If they get themselves dressed, brush their teeth and clean up their rooms and breakfast – give them a reward. Keep a tally and at the end of the week, do something fun. With many restaurants still offering drive-thru service, reward your kids for good behavior by taking them out to get a treat. Get yourself something too!
Give yourself a break
This is not the time to be the best at everything. If your kids don’t get their schoolwork done one day, they will be fine! Give yourself a break and do what you can.
There is no right or wrong way to navigate what is happening in the world at this time. All of us together are figuring it out as we go. These are a few tricks and tips that have worked for our staff here at The Brandon Agency. Comment and tell us what has been helpful for you and your family.