How to Work From Home During COVID-19

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By DeVry University

March 13, 2020
5 min read

The COV-19 outbreak has led to the closing of many schools, workplaces and public gathering places. According to The Atlantic, companies of all sizes - including Amazon, Apple, Google, Airbnb and Twitter have asked some employees to avoid coming into the office.

As offices shut their doors and employees transition to remote work, many people are looking for guidance and support to be successful while navigating these uncharted waters.

If you are used to working in an office environment, transitioning to working from home may not be as easy as one might think. There are a number of benefits associated with remote work, like spending more time on work and less time commuting, or enjoying more work-life balance. However, there are also a number of documented psychological impacts associated with being alone,  especially if you are the type of person who thrives on social interaction. Additionally, it can be difficult to know where work ends and home life starts when you are working 100 percent remotely.

Fortunately, there are several tools and tips you can take advantage of to ensure this temporary transition is a seamless one. Below, find some tools for success as you move from face-to-face collaboration to remote interaction.

1. Build a Routine - Include Time for Breaks

Building a routine is critical to your success as a remote worker. Make sure you set your working hours ahead of time, write down your work schedule (When do you have conference calls? When will you be doing focused work?) and stick to it as much as possible. Avoid eating lunch at your desk; clearing your mind while stepping away from your desk can do wonders for your productivity.

Speaking of stepping away, building time into your schedule for breaks is also critical to your work from home routine. Make sure you have set a time to have lunch, or go for a walk - or both! The benefits of being remote include the ability to step away from your work and take a breath without being pulled into a meeting or other work-related issue. Take advantage!

2. Work from a Dedicated Space in Your Home

If you have kids, pets or a partner at home, getting work done can be especially difficult. Make sure you have a dedicated space for getting things done - and make sure you can walk away from it at the end of day. Keeping a physical boundary between work life and home life will help you to work when you need to while also enjoying your free time.

If you live in a small space, adhering to this tip is still possible. Sit in one spot (at a table, not the couch to be most productive) every time you "go to work" to ensure you have one spot at home that is both mentally and physically associated with work time productivity.

3. Get Dressed and Behave as If You Are Going into An Office

While the pajamas-all-day lifestyle might be appealing at first, it can inhibit your motivation in the long term. While you might enjoy relaxing while you work for the first few days, doing so every day could impact your mental state for however long your tenure as a remote worker lasts.

Getting dressed will help you set your mind to working, and keep you from feeling like you are stuck at home for an endless period of time. Establishing this type of routine will help you feel that same sense of appeal for Saturday mornings.

4. Utilize Specific Techniques to Increase Productivity and Limit Distractions

This tip is one you can take back to the office with you, when the time comes. Limit social media use when you are working from home - just as you likely do when you are at the office. This will allow you to avoid the pitfall of spending more time than intended scrolling social media, as that can be an easy rabbit hole that takes your attention away from your work.  There are several apps you can use to help you limit your social media during the day. Just some of these include:

  • Offtime (available on iOS and Android)
  • Flipd (available on iOS and Android)
  • Freedom (available on iOS or MacOS)
  • AppBlock (available on Android)

These applications are provided for informational purposes only. No partnership with DeVry University exists or can be implied.

Additionally, try implementing productivity techniques to activate "sprints" of focused work and keep your mind sharp throughout the day. Some examples include:

  • The Pomodoro Technique. Choose a task, work on that task for 25 minutes (use a timer) with no distractions (no email, social media, phone calls, etc.), and then take a five-minute break. Repeat throughout the day.
  • Eat The Frog. Do your most important task early in the morning, before moving on to emails and other daily tasks.
  • Batch Your Tasks. Group together similar tasks and tackle the items in each batch at one time.
  • Identify Your Productive Times. Every person is different. Identify when you are most productive, and try to organize your work day around those times.

5. Stay In Touch With Your Friends, Family and Co-Workers via Video and Chat

Just because you are working from home doesn't mean you have to avoid all social interaction. Though social distancing is important during a public health outbreak like this one, you can still video chat with co-workers, hold virtual meetings and call your friends and family. Stay connected to feel less isolated, and see how much connection can sustain your productivity.

Working from Home for an Extended Period - like Many Will Have to During the Covid-19 Outbreak - Can Be a Positive Experience

Working from home during the Coronavirus outbreak doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. It can be a productive experience that helps you better understand your own strengths and weaknesses - knowledge which you can take back to the office when it’s time to go back.

Looking to stay productive during quarantine? Try these tips to be successful in online classes and keep a positive mindset during uncertain times.

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