Quarantine office life – 5 tips for success
How to adapt to a new work/life normal
Maybe you’ve fully embraced the quarantine lifestyle and have adapted to hermit-hood. Or maybe the walls are starting to close in on you. If the stress of your new, forced lifestyle and everything happening in the world outside your door has you feeling overwhelmed, consider some of the benefits of your new situation.
For example, think about how much time you are saving and how much extra sleep you are able to get by avoiding your daily commute. You might even have found that you are able to get your work done faster thanks to fewer distractions around the home office (unless you have kids or clingy pets).
There is a silver lining to this quarantine cloud. We’ve compiled a list of five tips to help you be your most productive self while working from home during this period.
1. Get dressed
There is a bit of a misconception that everyone who works from home is doing so in his or her pajamas. You might call it “COVID couture” or “pandemic posh” and you might even consider pants optional. After all, why wear a suit if no one can see you?
But countless studies have shown that what you wear really can impact how you feel about your work and can even affect your productivity level. Just because you can do your work in your skivvies, doesn’t mean it will be your best work. Take the time to groom and get ready in the morning like you would if you were going into the office. Dressing professionally will help you set your mind on the work ahead.
Tip: Want to find a happy compromise? Consider wearing jeans and your favorite company T-shirt!
2. Create a home office
Just like getting dressed for work, having a dedicated home office can have a significant impact on your productivity. Depending on the size of your home, your dedicated office might be an entire room, or it could be a small desk under a window. Whatever form your home office takes, make sure it’s comfortable and as free from distractions as possible. Yes, that includes your pets!
Tip: Are you tired of working off your tiny laptop? Run an HDMI cord from your laptop to your TV for an instant second screen. Viola! Plenty of screen room to run that tedious report.
3. Set a schedule that works
Quarantined office life has definitely blurred the lines of the work/life balance. When all social gatherings have been canceled, it can be easy to rely on your work as a means to stay busy. But just like a traditional workplace, it’s important to have a balance between work and home.
Avoid working all the time by setting regular office hours and sticking to that schedule as much as possible. While you may be tempted to stop working mid-day for a Netflix binge session, or you might decide instead to work 12 hours without taking a break, don’t fall into the temptation and become a victim of time theft. Your time is valuable. Schedule it accordingly.
Tip: Make sure your family and roommates respect your work schedule, too, and understand that just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you’re not on the clock.
4. Stay connected while remaining apart
One of the biggest drawbacks of working from home is that you lose interpersonal interactions with your coworkers and supervisor. Luckily, there are many online programs that can help you stay connected, and many of them are free or inexpensive to use. Teams, Skype, Zoom, Google+ Hangouts and GoToMeeting are just a few of the hundreds of programs available to help you conduct “face-to-face” or virtual meetings from the comfort and safety of your home.
Tip: Microsoft Teams offers screen sharing and audio calls, so you can still easily ask your (former) deskmate for help.
5. Change things up
Being under quarantine limits a lot of options we used to be able to enjoy when working from home in the past. We can no longer take our laptop to the nearest Starbucks or library to escape our homes when we need a change of scene. But so long as you have a computer and a strong Wi-Fi signal, you can still break up the monotony when you feel the need. Sit in the backyard to soak up some sun, or find a comfortable spot on your porch or patio where you can enjoy the fresh air while you work. You’ll be amazed at how big a difference a change in scenery can make.
Tip: If your team conducts meetings via video on Zoom, encourage them to change their background to a place they wish they could visit. Here’s how.
The social-distancing and quarantine life may have been forced on all of us, but we are fortunate that technology as advanced to the level where many of us are able to work from home during a crisis such as this. You might even discover that you enjoy working from home more than working out of the office. If you maintain steady or improved productivity, perhaps when the quarantine is lifted your employer will be more comfortable instituting an expanded work-from-home policy as part of the new normal.