Did you know that 4.3 million people in the U.S. work from home at least half the time? For these members of corporate America, working from home is a breeze.
But with coronavirus upon us, millions of more people are now working from home. And it can be a big adjustment.
For this reason, we've created this work from home guide outlining 5 key tips that will help you stay productive and healthy during this interesting time.
Stick to a Morning Routine
First and foremost, it's crucial that you create a morning routine. And then stick do it. Think about your mornings when you're going into the office. You wake up at a certain time, shower, get ready, and put on work-appropriate clothes. You probably eat breakfast beforehand. You may even work out before all of this.
And now just because you're working from home doesn't mean you should abandon this routine. Instead, you should stick to it.
When you do this, you're helping your mind prepare for the workday. If you just roll out of bed and onto the couch with your laptop wearing sweats all day, you're going to be much less productive. But by establishing a routine, you'll have an easier time getting in the work zone.
Create a Workspace
Next, it's important to create a workspace. Normally, when you're going into the office every day, it's easy to get into the work zone because you're literally going to a different place. But at home, it's really easy for your work and home lives to blend together. When this happens, it's hard to stay productive.
To counter this, try to recreate an office workspace as much as possible. If you have an extra room that you can use as a home office, great! But for many people, this isn't a reality. And that's ok.
If you have a one-bedroom apartment, you can still apply this principle by making one section of the room your office space. In this space, your chair is super important. Also, see if you can sit somewhere with good natural light. This will help you get some great vitamin D.
But even with this workspace created, you may find yourself getting bored throughout the day. At work, you're often moving from meeting to meeting, and this physical movement can help you stay fresh and productive. You can apply the same principle at home. If you want to work in a different spot for an hour in the afternoon, that's fine too. Don't keep your workspace concept too strict.
Set a Schedule
Next up in our work from home guide: now that you have your ideal workspace set up, it's time to establish your work schedule. If you need to fit in 8 hours of work per day, think about the best way to accomplish that. If you don't have kids at home, there's a good chance you'll be able to stick to your normal 9 to 5 schedule.
But if you have kids that are currently out of school because of coronavirus, you may find it best to change things up a bit. For example, you could work in the morning before they wake up from 6 to 9 and then fit in more hours later. Maybe you find that working at night after their bedtime works best for you. That's okay too.
The key here is to set a schedule for yourself every day so you have a plan. If you don't, it's really easy to get distracted, which will lead to a lag in productivity. Also important is to stop working when you've finished your hours for the day. Some people have a hard time putting the laptop down when they're working from home, but you need to still establish a work-life balance.
Here's some more information about establishing clear Coronavirus work-from-home policies.
Stay Connected with Your Coworkers
One of the biggest differences between working in an office and working from home is the lack of social interaction. Most people don't realize how much they interact with their fellow employees at work–catching up about the weekend, asking for advice, and collaborating on projects. We've all heard the term “water cooler talk.” And it's a real thing.
When working from home, do what you can to replicate this with your coworkers. Utilize messaging platforms to stay in touch. When you have meetings, make them video calls and turn on your camera so you can actually see your colleagues.
Last but not least, don't forget to take breaks. Sometimes, when we work from home, it's easy to overcommit and to overwork ourselves. Without the normal office distractions, we can burn ourselves out. Think about your normal day at work–you take a lunch break, breaks to get water or coffee, and stop to chat with coworkers as you walk through the office.
Breaks are a great idea when working from home as well. Take advantage of being at home, take a mid-day walk, listen to your favorite music or podcasts for a bit, if you have pets go outside, and play with them.
Taking a break will help you take a mental pause and will help you return feeling refreshed and ready to engage again.
Working From Home Guide: Final Thoughts
Now that you've read through this work from home guide, what's next? It's time to implement these tips in your daily routine. While we're all experiencing change and uncertainty because of COVID-19, we can help make things a little better by utilizing these ideas. Soon, you'll be a work-from-home pro. Remember these:
- Set a routine, and stick to it.
- Create a proper workspace.
- Work normal hours, no more.
- Reach out to co-workers to stay connected.
- Take mental breaks.
Happy working from home!
Brian is a dad, husband, and an IT professional by trade. A Personal Finance Blogger since 2013 who, with his family, has successfully paid off over $100K worth of consumer debt. I want my three children to handle money better than I ever did at a young age. I have been teaching them as much as I can for the last 10 years. My goal is to continue to champion the financial literacy message and then why I created the “How To Rock Your Money” book. To help teenagers navigate their financial futures. I hope my family’s story of paying off over $100,000 worth of debt will inspire and motivate you to take control of your money. He blogs at BrianBrandow.com