If your company is making you work from home during the coronavirus outbreak, here’s what you need to make that transition work.
Given the social distancing that’s being asked of people in areas affected by the coronavirus, you might not even have a choice but to telecommute. If you’re not used to working from home, however, this can be a jarring experience — it’s hard to switch from a familiar office environment to suddenly working in the space where you sleep and relax.
Make a dedicated work space in your home
Remote work makes it possible to work from anywhere — even on your couch or bed. But few people are productive in slouchy positions, which are also bad for your back. Ideally, your home office would be in a room with a door. That door can help signal to other people in your household to not interrupt you, keep pets out, and provide a way for you to physically and mentally close up shop each day.
If you don’t have a spare room, a corner in your dining room, living room, or even your bedroom can work, too. To make sure your work life doesn’t spill into your home life, however, do as much as you can to separate that space. A privacy screen or curtains hung from the ceiling can add that division, and even a tall plant can mark off the work territory.
Act like you’re at work, but balance it with your home life
Temptations abound when you’re home but supposed to be working — the fridge is steps away, and there’s a new video game that isn’t going to play itself. To overcome the impulse to slack off, create a daily routine and stick to it. In the morning, shower and get dressed as you would for work. Block out time each day for focused work, as well as for lunch and short breaks.
If you have family members or pets that often demand your attention, make plans to have a caretaker help with young children and pets when you’re not on break. And remember to log off and end your workday when you typically do — it’s as easy to overwork when you’re at home as it is to procrastinate.
Remote work is convenient, but it takes a bit of effort and planning to make it really work. Once you’re set up and know what to expect, though, you can enjoy the time savings and productivity boost many people who work from home enjoy.