Is this the new normal? While our dedicated front-line workers are trying to hold down the fort, the rest of us are doing our part by practicing #socialdistancing, which includes lots of working from home for many North Texans.
Working from home has plenty of perks: flexibility, an office designed specifically for you, more hours in your day (since you can skip the commute), and the ability to cook yourself a fancy lunch that could never be created in the office breakroom. We can find a silver lining in the current situation when we consider the positive air quality impacts resulting from skipped work commutes.
In order to stay sharp and happy working from home, you may want to establish some home office rules and routines. Below are tips that will help keep your productivity up and encourage the work/life balance that working from home promises.
CREATE A DEDICATED WORKSPACE – To help create a mental separation between “work,” and “home,” consider creating a workspace in your home that is reserved for work. If this isn’t possible for you, or if you prefer working from the couch or in bed, change up your environment throughout the day to keep your energy and productivity levels up. Move to a different spot in the house, light a candle, or play music.
SET YOUR HOURS – Flexibility is a key benefit of working from home. If your employer allows, you can create working hours outside of 8-5, Monday - Friday. If you have children and a co-parent at home with you, schedule flexibility enables you to coordinate childcare shifts with your partner. Take turns educating and interacting with the kids while the other parent works. Setting clear expectations for work and home will facilitate balance.
TAKE A LUNCH BREAK – Schedule your lunch break on your calendar. Without noticing a group of coworkers heading out to eat or a line at the breakroom microwave, it can be easy to forget to stop for a meal. Block out your lunch break (or some type of meal break) and schedule your work around it.
TAKE YOUR DAYS OFF SERIOUSLY – When your home doubles as your office, it’s easy to sit down on a weekend to “just do one quick thing” and suddenly your “day off” has disappeared. Yes, sometimes working on the weekends (whatever days your weekend consists of) is necessary, but taking time off to recharge can do more for your mental health, as well as for productivity and energy levels.
DRINK UP – Since you won’t have colleagues hanging around the break room for water cooler talk, give yourself extra reminders to stay hydrated at home. Keep a reusable water bottle or glass on your desk and sip it throughout the day. Get the latest office talk at the virtual online watering hole.
PUT SOME CLOTHES ON – In that vein of separating your home and work life, get out of the pajamas and put some work clothes on. Now, that hardly means a full suit or a full face of makeup. Your work uniform can be sweatpants, a slouchy tee, or a onesie—as long as it’s not what you slept in. Keep at least one decent looking shirt handy to wear for video meetings.
FAKE A COMMUTE – Consider faking a commute. After putting on your “work” clothes in the morning, take a quick walk before signing on. At the end of the day, take the kids, dogs or yourself on a long walk. Morning and evening strolls can serve as the transition between work and personal life.
PRACTICE SAYING NO – Most people seem to mistake working from home for “funemployment.” Anyone who works from home may be familiar with favor requests during the workday. Your work-from-home job might be flexible, but you might also be expected to observe the exact same hours as the rest of your team, so practice saying no to the random service requests.
LOG YOUR COMMUTE – On www.tryparkingit.com! While you’re doing your due diligence and being physically distant from your coworkers, you can earn rewards to restaurants, entertainment, and services just by simply logging your telecommute everyday online.
Working from home is the key piece that allows some people to have balance in their lives, especially when it comes to things like spending time with partners, friends, or kids. But without establishing boundaries, working from home means the office can easily seep into your life and make you feel off center.
North Texas ozone season began in March and will last through November. Until the social distancing recommendation is lifted, let’s try to generate positivity out of this situation. Working from home will keep North Texans safe and improve our air quality.