Above Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

When stay in place and social distancing became the norm as a result of this coronavirus crisis, many were not prepared for seamlessly establishing a home office and working remotely. Making the transition certainly calls for some adjustments and different ways of approaching the work day.

What could be so hard about working from home? many thought. We have a computer and emails, they said, and calls from the office are being forwarded. We won’t miss a beat!

Personally, working from home has been my way of life for decades. I’m not sure I could ever go back to an office setting. Maintaining a home office hasn’t always been easy, but I’ve paid the price and like my workspace. Here are some dos and don’ts and pitfalls to avoid.

 

  1. It’s important to establish a workspace making certain that business and personal records are kept separate. Trust me, it’s easy for your car insurance and utility bills to get lost under the load of paper you brought from the office. Over time this will become an issue.
  2. Think about the outside noises in your neighborhood. You certainly don’t want to schedule a conference call at 10 a.m. on Tuesday just as your neighbor’s lawn maintenance is arriving.
  3. Keep your work in your workspace. When I first went in-home, it wasn’t long before my desk and credenza were covered with computers, printers, adding machines, etc. Soon, there were client folders on my coffee table, then the dining room table and finally, the last straw, folders on my kitchen counter.
  4. Personally, I’m a pajama, sweats, shorts and T-shirt kind of employee. I’ve earned that right over years of working from home. Don’t get me wrong. I shower regularly and put on jeans or slacks for a trip to the store. But I’m going to suggest you dress office-casual every morning. It’s important to understand this crisis will end and you’ll be going back to the office. Stay in your routine.
  5. You’re not restricted to just sitting in front of your computer. Everyday do something that gets you away from it. Most mornings I start my day with some simple yoga focusing on stretching and deep breathing. Occasionally, I’ll walk at least a mile before lunch. That’s less than 20 minutes and you still have time for a bowl of soup.
  6. Do not let your working from home become any more of a disruption to your life than necessary. I still struggle with this. Working a few hours in the evening or getting an earlier start is fine. However, do your best to not drag your work into the weekend. With your home office so close, it’s just too easy to finish that project that could have waited until Monday. Sometimes that work can be very fulfilling, but it can also turn into a habit that’s hard to break.
  7. To get inside info on dealing with kids and pets, I went to a single mom who’s been working from home for years. During the school year, kids are not a problem except for breaks and, of course, the situation we find ourselves in today. She suggests establishing a schedule for the kids that mirrors school, complete with recess for the younger ones. Make certain the kids know that when mom’s on the phone there’s no interrupting. Calling out from somewhere else in the house is a big no-no. Dogs will bark at some of the most inopportune times. If it happens while you’re on the phone, simply apologize. Many of us have pets and will understand.
  8. I don’t know if I’ve suddenly become popular, but during the last few weeks I’ve had more Facebook and LinkedIn requests than I did in all of 2019. Do your best to budget that social media and interaction time. We definitely want to keep up with the latest tourism news and the health and well-being of our friends and neighbors, but don’t let it monopolize your day. Set aside some time to call a friend or family member just to say hello.

The first few weeks of working from home will have some challenges. You’ll have to learn to avoid temptations like the TV and refrigerator. But get organized, be patient and you’ll become more efficient and productive every day.

Dave Bodle, Associate Publisher