While remote working has been popular in many industries for years, the recent Covid-19 outbreak has finally put the concept to the ultimate test. Can companies across the world continue their day-to-day operations while the majority of their employees are working from home?
The answer, largely, has been yes. Forced work from home is proving to doubtful employers that remote work actually works. And while many of us have worked from home in the past, it’s important to remember that we’ve (probably) never experienced an en-masse remote work scenario like we are living through currently.
So whether you’re a remote working veteran or a newbie, we’ve put together a series of practical tips to help enforce the appropriate “social distance” while still getting work done and maintaining vital connections with friends and family.
Set up a dedicated work area in your home. Clean off that table or desk, organize your work materials, and try to keep them as separate as possible from the rest of your home living space. If that’s not possible, set up a dedicated corner of your residence where you can leave work behind at the end of the day.
Change up your reading habits.
If your typical morning routine starts with reading the news, consider switching up your reading material during this stressful time. Try reading something that inspires you instead, from a poem to something spiritual to a joke. Give yourself a breath of fresh air before you tackle the news. (This isn’t an argument to neglect important information, just to put it in context.)
Work as you would in the office.
Spend your working hours just as you would in the office. While it’s tempting to work around the clock, try to stick to your normal schedule. Take breaks to walk around the house or the yard, get some fresh air on your lunch break, or talk to a neighbor if you can maintain the appropriate social distance.
Continue your exercise routine.
If you have a regular exercise routine, don’t abandon it. While it may be tough to maintain some workouts without access to a gym, consider online exercise videos as an alternative, or simply go for a brisk walk or a run. Exercise is key for stress relief and anxiety reduction.
Test your hardware before you need it.
Before your big presentation is due via remote video conference, test out all your hardware to make sure it’s working. Set up your webcam for a test run, and make sure your lighting and background is work-appropriate. Also don’t forget to test your microphone to make sure you’re intelligible.
Spend some time at the “water cooler.”
Incorporate some social break times with your colleagues throughout the day as part of your work routine. While it’s not quite as convenient as stopping by their desk, schedule your social breaks ahead of time and send calendar invites.
Take breaks with friends—from a distance.
Find a place where you can have social contact with friends from a safe distance. Go get a coffee or a take-out meal at your local coffee shop or restaurant. Coordinate a brief meetup with a nearby friend or neighbor to chat. While we have to think creatively about how to see friends while staying safe, we shouldn’t neglect social outlets.
Get your work done, then stop for the day.
Resist the urge to work 24/7 (unless being on call is part of your job, of course!) When you’re done for the day, stop, just as you would at the office. Take a moment to disconnect, cook a meal, watch a movie, or chat with family.
These are tough times for all of us, especially since, as human beings, we crave and need social connection. With some creativity, though, we can figure out a way forward that allows us to be both productive and peaceful.