As the pandemic continues to rage, it looks like working remotely may become the new norm for many employees across the country.
If working from home is in your long-term future, you may need to tweak your work habits and environment to become as productive as possible. Here are a few ideas on how you can work from home successfully during this pandemic.
5 Best Methods to Work Remotely During the Pandemic
Create a Separate Workspace
Working at home can be challenging, even in the best of times. During a pandemic, it can be particularly tricky, as you may share your “work area” (aka “the dining room table”) with your spouse, children, and/or pets.
Clearing some space for a home office will help you establish boundaries between your personal and professional lives so you can focus on work during business hours. If this requires renting a dumpster for some serious decluttering, so be it. You can thank the pandemic for clearing your home of junk taking up valuable space that could be put to better use.
Once you’ve cleared a workspace, start looking into the equipment you’ll need to set up a professional home office. Depending on your job, this could include:
- A laptop/desktop computer, plus possibly a printer and/or scanner
- A traditional or adaptable computer desk
- An ergonomic office chair
- Business phone/phone service
- A portable office cabinet and files
- Portable storage for office supplies
- High-speed internet service powered by a separate network router
- An uninterruptible power supply system with a built-in surge protector
Boost Your Internet Capabilities
As in most modern homes, you probably already have reliable Wi-Fi access. If you’re sharing your internet service with your spouse and kids, however, you may need to boost your Wi-Fi capabilities to meet the needs of working remotely. You might start by investing in a separate router for business purposes. You may also want to integrate a virtual private network (VPN) into your system for greater security and privacy, especially if your work deals with proprietary or private information.
While you’re at it, make sure you have the appropriate hardware and software to handle your workload from home. You don’t want outdated technology to interfere with your productivity. You can even ask your company to provide the equipment you need for teleconferencing, such as an external cam or mic, noiseless headphones, and other essentials.
Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan
When you work from home, there’s always the risk of distractions. You may be tempted to browse news channels on TV, or you may get sidetracked by household tasks. And if you’re having problems with your air conditioning or some other major appliance, it’s easy to become preoccupied with their maintenance and repair. Investing in a home warranty to cover your home’s systems and appliances can eliminate worries over maintenance so you can focus on your job.
Self-discipline is essential if you want to stay on track when working remotely. Develop concrete goals and a schedule to keep you moving forward. Create checklists to prioritize your tasks and set deadlines to reach your goals. Structure your time and efforts to get the most out of your workday. And don’t forget to incorporate breaks into your schedule to avoid burnout.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Don’t underestimate the importance of communication when working remotely. If anything, you may need to communicate more often and more consistently than usual with your supervisor, colleagues, and clients to stay on top of your game.
In a conventional office, it’s easy to acquire the information you need to get your job done. Your staff and co-workers are close at hand, and you can call an impromptu meeting when necessary to discuss or finalize details on a project.
When you work remotely, however, you’re more isolated and may even have limited access to the information you need to complete important tasks. You may even feel “out of the loop” because you can’t just walk across the room and talk to another team member.
Be sure you have all the digital tools you need to communicate effectively. Set up regular times for video chats or teleconferences to give and receive updates on projects you’re working on. If a crisis arises and you have to leave the house unexpectedly, let your supervisor or colleagues know so you can reschedule your meeting. Communication is essential to effective teamwork, especially now.
Balance Work and Pleasure
The pandemic has had a serious impact on society at large, forcing many of us to adjust personally, professionally, and financially to move forward. Working remotely is one way to adapt, as it lets you maintain your financial base and support your family. Another way is to take hold of your finances.
Even if you haven’t been laid off or furloughed, there’s no telling what the future holds. It’s important to create a budget and set aside space in it for an emergency fund. Go through your bank transactions to see which recurring expenses you could weed out. And do what you can to build your credit and ensure that you’ll have some borrowing power when you need it most. You’ll feel more secure and able to focus once you know you’ve got a cushion if you need it.
You can also reduce your anxiety level by consciously endeavoring to balance work and pleasure. All work and no play can make life stressful and boring. But even though the quarantine has placed many restrictions on our lives, there’s still a lot you can do to live a balanced lifestyle. Spend quality time with your children, start a new hobby, learn a new language, or volunteer your time and talents to help others. Outdoor activities aren’t completely banned as long as you maintain social distance, so go for a jog, take a nature walk, or hop on your bike for some fresh air and exercise.
Working remotely doesn’t come naturally for everyone, but many of us are likely in it for the foreseeable future. It helps to remember that working from home provides you with a practical, effective means of supporting your family and helping your company move forward in these trying times. With a little time, attention, and planning, you can transform each workday into a pleasant and productive experience.