By The HealthyWomen Team
We are living in unprecedented times with so many workers now telecommuting. Telecommuting has always come with its own challenges and benefits, but it’s certainly harder now as parents have their kids at home, worry about their own parents, and live with general anxiety that comes with a pandemic
While needing it to do it on these terms is new, the HealthyWomen team isn’t entirely new to working from home. As a completely virtual organization, we’ve been working from home for decades.
With input from our entire team, here are some of our pro-tips:
1. Set Some Boundaries, Including Defining Your Work Space
It will help keep your home and work life separate if you’re able to define your work space. While a separate room is certainly ideal, even a corner in your bedroom or a table in your living room will suffice. These days, it may be at the dining room table with your kids coloring near you. If that’s the case, see the next tip.
2. Set a Schedule & Keep Track of Your Time
Working from home doesn’t mean you should always work. (Trust us, it’s easy to just keep going.) As much as possible, stick to your regular work hours--whatever that may look like these days. And keep track of your time by keeping a scratch pad next to your computer, or a time-keeper app. If you’re working while the kids are coloring or doing schoolwork near you, be sure they’re aware of the schedule. Let them know that after a certain amount of work time for all, you’ll be able to take a break and give them more undivided attention.
3. Take Breaks & Stand Every Hour
Instead of multi-tasking (throwing in the laundry in between work tasks, and then getting started on dinner not too long later), work in focused chunks. Block out the home chores, focus on work and then be disciplined about taking a break. The standing break you earned is when you can allow yourself to catch up on some home tasks, if you’d like!
4. Eat at Regular Meal & Snack Times
You wouldn’t hang out at the office kitchen all day, so don’t do that at home! Modeling this for your kids will help them stay on routine, too.
5. Add in Movement
Reserve that commute time you’ve gained back for yourself--instead of checking email! Put your phone away, don’t open your computer, and add movement to your day. Make it a family fitness session by going outside for a walk, or doing a free workout together at home.
6. Stay Connected
Make sure to find a way to connect with colleagues over the phone to build and continue collegial relationships. Allow yourself some time to chat with colleagues (think “water cooler” conversation) or opt to work through a problem over the phone instead of exchanging a bunch of emails.
7. Manage Expectations & Be Honest About Your Needs
First, manage your expectations. It may not be possible to work at the same level you do when you’re not also answering algebra questions. Your and your family’s overall health is important during these times, so what does it look like to preserve this in your family? Be honest about what that is, and speak with your manager if you need to make some adjustments. Maybe you need more flexibility in the later afternoons when the kids really need your attention? Or maybe you need to compress your work week so you have a day off? Advocate for yourself and be earnest in expressing that you’re trying to make this new reality sustainable–for everyone.
8. The Mute Button is Your Friend, And Other Technology Priorities
Make sure you have the right technology, including bandwidth, at home to work productively and have everyone else at home on the internet. When you’re on calls, remember to use that mute button! If you don’t know where the mute button is, you’ll be glad you spent the time finding it!
9. Embrace a Growth Mindset & Focus on the Positives
These are unprecedented times, even for those of us who have been working from home for years. It’s okay to admit that it’s hard, but don’t dwell there. Adopt a growth mindset and focus on the positives, like being able to make it to family dinner more easily, spending more time with your kids, and having a slower pace.
10. Get Dressed
If it weren’t for social distancing and staying home, we’d advise everyone to get dressed so you feel like you’re going to work. It does help with your mindset and productivity. But this is our last tip because we think we all need some grace during these times--and for us, that may mean wearing our daytime PJs at work a little more often.
What tips did we miss? Post this article on social media, and tag us when you share your tip so we can all help each other. We’re all in this together.