Working from home can be a lot of fun. You can sleep in, skip your commute, enjoy a cup of coffee at your home desk, and on top of it all, you can do it all in your pajamas. There’s one question that comes with that freedom; is that what you should actually be doing?
In recent years, working from home has grown from something that many never could have dreamed of doing, to something that many businesses have implemented for their employees. There are positives and freedoms that come from working in your own home, but there are dangers as well. As COVID-19 changes the world in unexpected, unprecedented ways, many have been told to work from home for an indefinite amount of time. Company networks are being pushed harder than ever, online call businesses are struggling to keep up with the new demand for their services, and employers are trying to remain relevant in an unpredictable economy. But what about you? How are you handling the constant work from home? Here are some tips to keep you productive as the world goes through seismic changes.
I know it’s tempting to roll out of bed at 8:55 and log on to your computer while listening to the coffee brewing in your kitchen and the TV on in the room you’re in for background noise. Doing all of this in a nice pair of fuzzy pajamas, PJ’s, jammies, or whatever else you want to call them is more tempting than chocolate cake, but I promise it’ll make your workday drag. The comfort of pajamas comes with a cost. When you’re wearing your sleepwear, your body gets itself ready for sleep because that’s what your brain is wired to do. So, when you sit at your desk in pajamas, you’re preparing yourself for a lethargic day with less work done than you probably need to get done.
That’s not to say you can’t be comfy. When I work from home, I usually wear something similar to what I’d wear to work, shower before I’m supposed to start, and take the dog out once or twice. That way I can get my day started fresh, so when I sit down to work, the fuzz of last night’s sleep is gone and I’m ready for whatever challenges the day presents. On top of that, I even leave myself enough time to go on a walk to really get my blood pumping – now, if I actually go on that walk is a different story, but I always give myself time for it!
Working from home all the time is strange because you have all of the distractions that you would normally have after work, but now you’re not allowed to get distracted by them. Instead, you have to work diligently, and you might even feel pressure to over perform what you normally do in the office to prove to your manager that you’re not wasting time. Although working hard is needed, and it’s more important now to keep the cogs of your business turning now more than ever, that doesn’t mean that you can be, or need to be, a machine.
Whether you’re at home or at work, taking breaks is imperative. Sit back and enjoy a cup of coffee while listening to your favorite song, or message some of your coworkers to see how they’re holding up at home. Without the usual breaks that you get in the office, such as talking with your deskmates or visiting the water cooler (if your office still had one of those,) you run the risk of feeling much more cooped up and overwhelmed with your workload.
It’s easy to think that the best place to work is in that special spot on your couch that you’ve deemed your spot, but that’s not necessarily the best idea. If possible, find a spot in your home that’s completely separated from the more casual parts of your house. If you have an office, it’s recommended that you work in that office whenever you can. Obviously you can still, and are encouraged to, get up and take breaks outside of it, but when you’re in your office, it’s time to get work done.
If you don’t have an office or a similar space in your home, or you’re like me and only have a kitchen, living area, bathroom and bedroom, finding a designated work space isn’t easy. For me, the best ways that I have been able to focus on work is by listening to relaxing music and removing distractions from my field of vision. I switch back and forth between my kitchen table, futon and bed to try to find the best spot to work until my back hurts. Obviously this isn’t ideal, but when I do find a spot that I can sit in for awhile, the work that I do is done to the best of my ability because I stay focused.
This point might be a bit more focused on the quarantine that we’re all experiencing right now, but I think it’s important for work too. When working from home, socialization is an important part of the work process. Creativity comes from many different sources, and more often than not, it comes through simply talking with those that you can be comfortable with.
When taking your allotted breaks, consider talking with a family member, friend or colleague that you’d like to talk with. The conversation doesn’t have to be a work conversation, but it could be if that’s what you want. The important thing here is simply talking with someone. Cabin fever and feeling cooped up are two real dangers of working from home right now, and productivity won’t be the only thing that suffers if we can’t figure out this whole “working from home” thing; our overall wellbeing might suffer too. So stay social out there, because we all need someone to tell them that everything’s going to be okay and that we’ll make it through this.
Working from home has always been a good thing, but you know what they say about too much of a good thing; too much of a good thing keeps the doctor away? No, that can’t be it. That’s about apples. Regardless, there are pros and cons to working from home. Now, it’s up to you to figure out how you can do it in the best way for you as possible.
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