This COVID-19 situation has caught us all off guard. It has turned the workforce upside down on many levels. Unemployment claims have soared and many part time employees have reduced workloads while employees in high demand industries are being asked to work overtime. Additionally, a great number of us who are fortunate enough to maintain our employment status are now tasked with working remotely, which has created it’s own set of challenges.
I have had the pleasure of being a remotely-based freelance worker for a number of years now due to the nature of my work. So this situation hasn’t been a great challenge for me in this regard. However, my work load has increased significantly since I offer a number of coaching services, which are all in high demand as a result of the COVID-19 situation. Though I am truly grateful for this surge in work, it has kept me away from my blog for a few weeks.
However, it has likewise given me the inspiration for this article since many of my clients have been asking me for suggestions to help them cope with shifting their work space to the virtual environment. So, here are a few tips to help you transition your business or work operations to your home base or other remote location…
Maintain Your Normal Schedule and Routine
Keeping a regular work schedule was tremendously helpful for me when I started working from home. When you work from home, there is technically no going “home” from work. Because you effectively spend the majority of the day in your home when you work from home, it easy to blur the lines between home and work. It is common to find yourself working earlier or later than you would normally work in an office or other setting.
This often happens due to extra pressure or boredom. It is highly likely that you will feel extra pressure when you first start working from home, especially in crisis situations such as the one we are currently faced with. It is likewise normal and acceptable for you to spend more time preparing for and getting acclimated to your new work environment. Learning how to use virtual systems like video conferencing tools and industry specific web-based software can easily add an extra hour or two to your work day.
And, let’s not forget about boredom. After you have binged-watched all the Netflix series that you can digest, it is not uncommon to find yourself checking your work email during your “off hours”. This is also acceptable on occasion, especially since we are being bombarded with an overflow of communication about the COVID-19 situation during the early phases of this work space transition process.
However, overextending yourself too often for too long can easily lead to drain, fatigue, and burnout. So once you get settled and can easily navigate your way around new technology, processes, etc. set an amenable work schedule and stick to it. It is best to stick to your normal work schedule, if at all possible. However, it may be necessary to shift your work hours depending on employer or client demands. Even in these circumstances it is still important to keep standard working hours and shifts so that you can maintain your health and well-being.
Create a Dedicated Work Space
Having a dedicated work space is just as important as having a standardized work schedule. You need to work in a space or area of your home that provides you with the level of privacy, comfort, and peace and quiet that you need for optimal performance.
When setting up your space keep the requirements of your job and your personal preferences in mind. Do you deal with highly sensitive data? Will you need to make frequent phone or video calls? Do you have any needs that require specialized equipment? There are many factors that can impact the size and type of space that you may need to perform your work efficiently. Keep in mind that purchasing extra work-related equipment or resources may be tax deductible depending on your work situation.
Creating a dedicated office space may be as simple a setting up a desk and computer in a nook of your bedroom or dining area. Or, it could be as elaborate as converting a whole room into a home office. In fact, you may already have a dedicated computer room in your home that you use frequently for work-related and other purposes. Depending on your family situation, you may need to find a way to keep your spouse, children, or other household members out of the space when you do work assignments that require privacy, quietness, or solitude.
Get Dressed for Work
Yes, get up and get dressed as if you were going to your regular job. While working in your PJ’s may sound enticing, it can actually complicate your work situation. Sitting in front of a computer in your night or workout clothes can trick your brain into thinking that it’s time to mindlessly surf the internet. Instead, you want your brain to shift into work mode when you sit down at your computer desk. Putting on professional attire will easily kick your brain into work mode so that you can perform your job duties at optimal level.
Dressing professionally will also help you stay prepared for impromptu and scheduled virtual meetings. If you get dressed at the start of your day, you don’t have to scramble to find an outfit when your supervisor or a client wants to do a virtual face-to-face at the last minute.
Connect with Colleagues on a Regular Basis
Maintaining consistent verbal communication with your colleagues is also important during extended remote work situations. Not only do we need to maintain communication because we are hardwired to connect with other humans, we also need to keep a sense of normalcy. Scheduling time to chat with our peers is very important in maintaining our sanity through this situation. We need to find meaningful ways to consistently interact with our colleagues, customers, and/or clients as we venture into this brave, new workforce.
Don’t Overwork Yourself
Finally, my last bit of advise is to not overwork yourself. This goes along with maintaining a standardized work schedule. Try not to work on weekends unless it is absolutely necessary to do so. Pace yourself and do what you can. Most employers and clients are willing to extend deadlines and work with you in a variety of different ways to ensure that you have a safe, healthy, and efficient transition to your new remote work environment. While you may need to work a few hours more on certain days, this should not be the norm. Try to cancel or delay any non-essential tasks, meetings, or events. Learn to say “no” when you need to. And most importantly, take proper care of yourself and those around you as best as possible.