It’s been just over a month since stay at home orders started being issued in several parts of the country. Working from home has become the temporary norm for many people. If you are one of those suddenly working remotely, after working in an office, how are you handling the transition? How do you stay focused on work amid distractions and without direct supervision?
Now more than ever, business need to continue operations and prepare for the transition of employees moving back into the office (donning masks) and for when life goes fully back to normal. With the extended shelter in place orders creeping into May, we are uncertain about when we will be released, so it’s critical to find a rhythm in your workflow.
Creating new work from home habits
Many people are working from home for the first time, and need to create a new practice for self-management. Habits take a long time to establish. In fact, newer studies show it can take up to 66 days to form a new habit. So if you haven’t gotten into one yet, now is the time to structure your work at home routine.
If you are suddenly remote and not used to self-managing, you may find yourself needing structure. Schedules are a great way to keep yourself on track. Be realistic about what you can achieve with your time. Prioritize your essential tasks, but allow for the unexpected. Continue working toward your goals but be aware that taking on more than you can handle can cause burnout. And remember to schedule enough time for friends, family, and exercise.
Distractions to remote workers
While working at home distractions are inevitable, luckily there are many ideas online that can help you focus. If you have kids at home, you know this is hands-down the biggest distraction to remote working. They always seem to need something right when you have a good workflow going, or start screaming while you are on a video conference call.
The internet has countless sites offering ideas on keeping kids entertained. Find projects that are age-appropriate that your kids will enjoy.
Tame other distractions such as pets, personal business, the dishes, or whatever distracts you with your schedule. Some of your regular distractions can be added to your schedule, while other distractions might fall into the “allow for the unexpected” category.
We have seen technology being pushed to the limits as remote work becomes the new norm. Video conferencing and webinars are malfunctioning due to higher-than-ever demand, and affordable webcams are out of stock. It’s important now to get familiar with popular virtual meeting apps such as Zoom and Webex. If you are unfamiliar with the apps, you can find tutorials online to get you up to speed. If you don’t have all the tools you need, get creative. Smartphones can be used to display video by downloading an app and can also be used for audio. That workout headset with a mic that you barely use? It might be just the thing you need for noise cancelling and better audio quality. Find the tools you have at your disposal and do a little research on ways you can make them work.
Staying Connected During COVID-19
In this unprecedented experience of social distancing, it’s more important than ever that we stay connected. Email your coworkers that you are used to talking to face to face. Chances are they will welcome hearing from you. Also stay connected with your supervisors, giving them updates on your progress. Plan Zoom meetings to share a lunch or happy hour with your coworkers or friends. You can also play games remotely to stay connected.
Most of all stay safe, stay well and keep on keeping on.