As Americans adjust to suddenly working from home, many of us for the first time, there’s more than clearing a space on the kitchen table and connecting our laptops that we need to consider. A few tips from a veteran telecommuter:
1. Set expectations. Everyone in the household needs a space to work or study. The smaller your space, the more distracting that might be. Let others know when you need quiet time without interruption for a call, class, or teleconference. If you don’t have a home office where you’re able to close the door, be creative. A walk-in closet or even your car can be a quiet space to take a call or watch a webinar.
2. Plan ahead. Do you have everything you need to get to work? Laptop, cell phone, charger, earbuds, pens, notepad, folders or some other system to organize your work? Set up folders on your computer and in your email account so that you can easily find files by client, date, or subject.
3. Work healthy. Have some tea, coffee, or lemon water handy, as well as healthy, easy-to-grab snacks. Plan a set break time to come together with other household members for your “lunch hour.” Wash your hands, then eat, chat, or take a short walk.
4. Sit up straight. Set up your workspace with ergonomics in mind. If you find your make-shift office has you slouching over your laptop, use a box or some books to position your screen and keyboard more comfortably. If you don’t have a proper office chair, place a small pillow or rolled hand towel at your back for lumbar support. Natural light or at least a good desk lamp is essential.
5. Ask for support and support others. It can be isolating to work from home, especially if you’re used to a bustling workplace. Reach out to colleagues to check in on projects you’re working on together. Send a quick email to clients to see if they need anything. At the end of the day, spend some time connecting with family and friends on whatever video chat platform you use. Tele-visiting in real time can help bridge the distance. And while we often hear reminders to check in on the elderly and those who live alone, it’s also important to remember people who are always on the go. Those who are most outgoing and socially active often feel the jarring effects of social distancing most strongly. We’re all adjusting to this new normal. A quick call or chat message can mean more than you know.