With the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have had to change the way we live our daily lives. Depending on where you live, it can be as little as voluntary social distancing to stay at home orders.
Many people across America are now finding themselves working from home. This has been a growing segment of the working population in recent years, but for many of us, it’s a new venture. If you go in with your eyes open and remember some useful tips, you can be successful.
Working at home sounds great on the surface, but it requires great discipline. At home, there are many more things to distract you from working, from kids to pets to the Lifetime Network. The first thing is to shower and change into work-appropriate clothing. Why? It puts you in a working, professional mode. It is much easier to slack off wearing sweats and flip-flops. Set a schedule, making time for breaks and lunch. Working straight through may get you done earlier but can burn you out quickly.
If you don’t have an extra room for an actual office, do dedicate a space large enough for your computer or laptop and any other material you will be using. Make sure you have adequate light to keep down fatigue and eye strain. Buy yourself a comfortable ergonomic chair. If you need to keep outside noises down, a set of noise-canceling headphones may be in order. Internet bandwidth could be a problem, especially if you have others in the house using devices, like kids. Moving closer to the router may help, but it might be necessary to upgrade your Internet. Ask yourself if you need a secure line?
Keep communication open and ongoing with your supervisor and any other people you will be working with. Depending on the type of job, you will be entirely on your own, but you need to know exactly what is expected of you each day. Other jobs will require video conferencing or conference calls. Know what applications your team is using. Many remote workers are relying on Microsoft Teams, Skype, Zoom, Slack, and Go to Meeting, to mention a few. We have a lot of options with technology today to keep connected with the office. Do make sure everyone understands; even with video conferencing, some things can be missed. Ask questions to ensure everyone is on the same page.
With the situation now, kids are home from school too. Depending on their ages, it might be necessary for them to be on a schedule also. They need to do schoolwork, and there are many options for them to socialize like Roblox, a platform where kids can chat while playing video games. With younger kids, you might have to get more creative. Perhaps it’s possible to work more in the evenings. Or your spouse may have a more flexible schedule. Even in this time of social distancing, there could be something worked out with a neighbor in a similar situation.
So, with a little planning, a lot of discipline, and a good bit of technology thrown in, we can get through this challenging time with a minimum of difficulty. You never know, maybe working at home will really work well for you. You can be productive at home.
KATHLEEN WEAVER-ZECH AND DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO