It has happened. For so many years, many companies have debated, hemmed and hawed whether to allow their people to work from home. And then the coronavirus made the decision for them.
Finally, home has become the new office. You’ve probably heard numerous tips on how to ace this whole process of making your home your office. Don’t believe them! LOL. I’m just kidding. I’ve been working from home for seven years — before we were forced into this trend, so I know a thing or two about this.
Here are my tips for working from home:
1. Set up your home office as soon as you can.
If you haven’t already, set up your office at home. If you’re just working on your sofa or working from your coffee table, stop. Start setting up your home office. Make it as comfortable as, or even more comfortable than your actual office. Think that this is going to be a bit more permanent because while lockdowns can be lifted, recovery will take a longer time and the corona virus has really changed the face of work. So set up! Props to those who’ve gone beyond the office and set up coffee and tea nooks as well.
2. Make routines and rituals and stick to it.
In a very unpredictable time, sticking to a schedule helps. A lot. Building a rhythm of life and following that rhythm introduces some predictability in your day. One of my Jesuit friends told me some years back, “Keep a schedule and during crazy times, your schedule will keep you.” That is so true now. We tend to “consume” news, work, people and food in very unhealthy doses when we don’t have a routine. So keep a routine – it is not just psychologically and emotionally healthy, it will make you physically healthy as well.
3. Separate work from life.
This goes without saying, but a lot of people are having a difficult time with this. This is partly because home was always seen as “life” before all this happened and relationship boundaries (not just the physical ones) are actually hard to demarcate. But during this time, creating boundaries in a limited space, while difficult, is essential for mental health. You can start by mentally labelling furniture in your house — that table is for work, that couch is for reading (now’s the best time to read all those management books you’ve always wanted to read but couldn’t), that table is for dining, that room is where I play with the kids, etc. It also helps if you start telling your young kids to only eat in the dining room table (i.e. no more bringing them food in the couch while they play, etc) — this also creates demarcated spaces in their minds. My kids know that the master’s bedroom is daddy and mommy’s office so they know every time they enter the room that they’re entering my workspace and they can adjust accordingly. We have also set up their own tables for school work. Like #2 above, predictability, routine and spaces are good for mental health.
4. Learn to cook (if you don’t) or learn new dishes (if you do).
Now’s a great time to pick up new kitchen skills and use up that saved commute time. It’s also healthier and cheaper than ordering in, and it gets you away from your screen.
5. When you reach out (reaching out is mandatory when you’re working from home), and when you choose to be vulnerable (these are vulnerable times!) choose the people who will be worthy of your vulnerability.
Not everyone is. Be choosy.
A. Here are some TOOLS to help your productivity while working from home.
Lastly, some reminders: