Perhaps you have been wishing for this day to come for years, the day when your boss tells you to work remotely! Alternatively, maybe working from home is creating a larger burden in your life than commuting to the office. Where are you going to work? How are you going to stay productive? How are you going to make it through this with your partner/roommates/children and pets all stuck under the same roof for the foreseeable future!
Many Americans are faced with this reality of working remotely in the midst of the Coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. As a result many employers are equipping employees with the opportunity to work from home to keep productivity up while not cutting them off from their livelihood of having a job.
As a seasoned remote employee having been working from home for 9 years I’m offering 5 ways to effectively work from home during the Coronavirus.
Designated Work Space
Create a designated work space at home, a place where you can firmly place your computer/laptop on a table where you can sit in a chair with your feet on the ground. Working from the couch or bed in your PJ’s all day may sound like a great idea, but it’s not! Not only is it really bad for your posture and body to be slouched on a couch all day, but the mental confusion not getting ready for work causes also decreases productivity.
Think about how much more productive you feel when you are ready for the day, wearing clothes that are comfortable yet appropriate to work in, while sitting at a quasi desk setup. If you are struggling to find a place to work from get creative! Kitchen tables, craft tables, entryway tables and any other firm surface you have may be a good option avoiding the couch and your bed as much as possible.
If you are in an even greater conundrum where your spouse/partner/roommate is also working from home during this time do your best to separate yourselves so you each have your own space to be productive. If that means one person gets the kitchen table and the other person works off a table in the spare bedroom then so be it! It’s much better to be separated so to not add more distractions to the mix.
Deskercise Stretching Techniques
Since you are likely working in a less than optimal setup during this time – queue in the lack of dual monitors, an office chair, and that ergonomically correct keyboard your body and mind are likely going to get more fatigued from this popup workspace. It’s recommended to take a 5-10 minute break every hour or two to get the blood flowing again giving your body the break it needs to reset.
Implementing Deskercise into your routine including wrist, neck and shoulder rolls will help keep the joints loose and the blood flowing. Seated cat-cow is another great exercise to help stretch and expand the spine as well as open up the shoulders and neck. Planting your feet on the ground, crossing one leg over the opposite making a figure-4 position while leaning forward is a good way to release any tension in the hip area.
Allowing yourself these important breaks during the workday will help keep you mentally and physically able to get through the day. There are many great YouTube videos and resources online that offer quick 5-10 minute routines, as well as yoga studios offering highly discounted and free classes during this time of social distancing.
If you’ve attempted Deskercise stretches and you are still feeling the stress and anxiety from an unfamiliar work space and the constant concern spiraling around Coronavirus, mindful meditation is a great way to get yourself centered.
Allowing yourself to close your eyes and focus on your breath is the best way to start. Even if you can only catch your breath for a few moments and you quickly move the mind back into the chaos that’s considered practicing mindfulness.
If you are able to calm the mind by focusing on the inhales and exhales of your breath you can add to the exercise by counting your breath inhaling for 1-2-3-4 and exhaling for 1-2-3-4-5-6. Allowing the exhales to be longer than the inhales flushes the body of toxins and allows the body to slow down more effectively. You can check out my post on Meditation for Stress and Anxiety at Work for a more breathing exercises.
Calming the mind and body helps reduce cortisol levels, lowers your fight or flight response, helps us better process our emotions, relieves anxiety, and much more which makes this exercise very important in helping us get through the ups and downs of our daily lives.
Create a Routine
If you’ve never worked from home before you might be caught up in the freedom it’s suddenly provided you. I mean admit it you now have the TV, internet, chores, hobbies you name it all at your fingertips. For some that might not matter much, but for others the distractions could be endless. Instead of working on a project due you’ve suddenly found yourself reorganizing your sock drawer.
The best way to combat distractions is to create a routine for your day very similar to the one you have in the office. Get up at the same time, shower and get ready for the day, eat a healthy breakfast and start your day just as you normally would minus the morning commute. Keep the TV and music off while you work to avoid distractions. Shut yourself off from the rest of the house so that you don’t get sucked into the endless pile of laundry staring at your from the bedroom across the hall.
Be open and honest with family members as well. Perhaps your partner/roommate figured since you’ll be home all day doing nothing you could now do X, Y, Z – wrong! Let them know that this is no different from being in the office and you will be unavailable for a to-do list until after work hours.
If you have children staying at home with you your day may be much more challenging on top of working from home. If you have the ability to ask a stay-at -home parent, babysitter or nanny for help during work hours don’t feel ashamed to do so. If you are unable to find someone to fill in during this time don’t stress. Do the best you can by supplementing your children with arts and crafts, educational TV shows, and the like to get you both through the day.
If you are unable to fulfill your normal work duties due to the distraction of your children be open with your boss and let them know the situation. Perhaps you can work a flexible work schedule working around nap time in order to stay productive fulfilling work and home obligations. Remember that this situation isn’t optimal for anyone right now so the more honest dialogue you can have around your situation the better.
We are living in a time of great uncertainty and a time many of us have never experienced before. There is a lot of misinformation being passed around the internet and via the media which makes it even more overwhelming not knowing where to turn. The important thing to remember in the midst of chaos is to stay calm.
During times of uncertainty it’s of great importance to focus on your breath, health and well-being in order to keep providing for yourself and your family. To the extent possible consume a healthy diet including fruits and vegetables, as well as washing your hands upon any human contact. Clean your home and work space as often as possible, and get some rest. Make sure you are getting the allotted hours of sleep a day so that you aren’t running on empty.
If the gym is part of your normal routine many gyms and yoga studios are offering online classes so you can still tune in and get rid of some of that pent up energy. Going for a walk is another great way to release some energy while staying a healthy distance from others.
Always remember this is temporary and we will get through it! Utilizing these suggestions will help you stay productive while working from home making the best of the current situation.
If you have any specific questions please feel free to reach out.