Tips for working from home
By ATB Financial 1 April 2020 3 min read
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, those of us who can do so have left our physical workplaces and are now working from home. Making this transition to a home office can feel stressful and a little overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time with a virtual working experience. Having roommates or family, including children home from school or daycare, can add to that challenge.
Tara Adams, corporate wellness manager at ATB, has a lot of experience working from home, something she has done on and off for the past eight years. She shared her three top tips to help you navigate this transition.
1. Invest time to get set up.
“Working from home can be a smooth transition if you take some time to set things up for yourself,” said Adams. “You will likely need a physical workspace, as well as security and technology to properly connect to your workplace and colleagues.”
Work with your employer and colleagues to ensure you have everything needed to do your job from home. This might mean signing up for file and screen share applications, gaining remote access to your company’s network, and having a plan in place for meetings via phone or video conference.
Also, take the time to set up a designated workspace. If you have the luxury of space, like a home office, spare room or corner in the basement, use that to create your home office. If that's not an option, think about moving your workspace around so you're not stuck in your bedroom every day. A “popcorn workstation” could have an employee working by the window one day, says Adams, then a kitchen table the next, ideal for people who struggle with staring at the same wall for hours.
If you live with family or roommates, it’s important to establish ground rules for when you are in your workspace. Let them know that when you're at your computer, you're working and not to be disturbed.
2. Prioritize making connections.
“You need personal and professional connections, and you need them often,” advises Adams. “This is always important when working from home, but especially so during times of crisis and isolation.”
Making connections when working from home can help with isolation and with productivity. It’s also important to have a variety of communication methods. Text and email are not enough. Use different channels to connect with colleagues, clients, family, and friends.
Your connections should include video conferencing using applications like Google Hangouts, Zoom and FaceTime. It’s important to be able to see the people you're connecting with, to see their expressions and they can see yours. If your computer does not have a web camera, consider purchasing an external camera. Making eye contact and seeing each other’s facial expressions is essential to meaningful connections both professionally and personally.
3. Start good habits from the beginning.
The majority of people find working from home to be most productive when they have—and stick to—a routine. It’s easy to fall into bad habits at the beginning that will impact both productivity and mental wellness. Here are some good habits you can start forming immediately:
- Start each workday as you normally would by having a shower, getting dressed and preparing for a regular day at work.
- Make sure to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at normal times, as opposed to grazing all day.
- Set a timer to take a break, stand up and get away from your desk. It's easy to lose track of time when working from home.
- Set a cut off time so you know when the workday is over and try to stick to it. Allow for time to connect with your family and for physical activity each day.
“When you work from home, it’s very easy to let your work bleed over your working hours. During this crisis, depending on our role and type of business, you might find yourself working every minute of the day. No matter what, it's still important to pick a reasonable time to finish working each day,” said Adams. It may not be the same time for everyone, but understanding your boundaries and the expectations of your employer is important.
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