With the onset of the global pandemic, many organizations have implemented a work from home policy, with the goal of keeping employees safe and slowing the spread of the virus to help relieve the increased pressure on the healthcare system.
But to many employees, working from home is something that they may have only experienced once or twice in their careers, and it can be difficult to adjust to such a drastic change in the work environment—especially for those who are socially inclined.
To help you cope with this change, here are six tips on how you can be effective and productive while working from home, all the while, remaining sane.
1. Get Dressed
The best piece of advice that I can give is that you absolutely need to get dressed—your morning routine shouldn't change (besides the fact that you have more time to sleep-in!) This is important because getting dressed is something that shifts your mindset. It helps you feel put together and prepared for the day, increasing your motivation and boosting your spirits; this is something that's absolute necessity when you're working from a place normally used to lounge and relax.
Not only that, but getting dressed makes you feel good; it helps make you feel like your day has a purpose and that you're ready to take on all the challenges that come with it. Let's just say that if you work in your pajamas, it might be hard to feel motivated or be productive. Putting yourself in the right mindset can help mitigate these types of challenges.
2. Create an "Office Space" Near Windows
Make sure that you have some sort of setup that's similar to the one at your workplace. By mirroring the setup of what you're used to, you can help mimic the mindset that you have when you're at work.
For instance, if you normally have a laptop on your right side connected to a monitor on the left, set your new workspace up the same way. The more familiar your workspace is to the one where you normally accomplish so much, the more likely you're able to turn the "on" switch and get down to business.
When you're looking to create an office space at home, you have to make sure that ergonomics are a top priority. While most workplaces are equipped with ergonomically friendly seating and desk space, your home may not be. If possible, avoid situations where you're working on a kitchen chair or a coffee table—an uncomfortable work environment can affect productivity since muscle strain can leave you tired and exhausted
That being said, make sure that your seating arrangement allows for your arms to be kept at a 90-degree angle, which can help reduce back tension.
And last but certainly not least, when creating your office space, try to ensure that it's close to windows, since natural light can help boost your mood and energy levels.
3. Take Breaks
It might be tempting to work the entire day without taking a break since you're already in the comfort of your own home, but this is a mistake. Taking breaks when you're working from home are just as important as taking breaks when you're working in the office.
It's important to break up the monotony of the day by disconnecting for 15 minutes or so, like you would throughout the day at the office. And if you're weary of taking a stroll outside during this time, do something that's productive but relaxing at the same time. For instance, you could wash some dishes (maybe I'm the only one who enjoys this?) fold and put away your laundry and even cuddle your doggo. After taking a moment for yourself to relax, stretch and refuel, you're ready to get back to work!
4. Have Lots of Video Calls
Face-to-face interactions have immense value at this time, so if you're usually just a voice-call person, switching on your webcam (and others doing the same) will help you feel less lonely during this period.
Feeling disconnected from others will be common at this time, and will be especially hard on those who either thrive on social interaction or live by themselves. A great way to mitigate this is by having video calls—seeing the expressions and emotions being emitted from others can help in a way that just hearing their voice cannot.
But this doesn't just apply to your work-related meetings. You should try to make this a habit with any calls you have, whether it be with family, friends or co-workers. In a time where we need to reduce in-person interactions, video calls are the next best thing. Is't technology awesome?
5. Exercise and Eat Healthy
When we're talking about how to be productive and stay sane, a HUGE part of this relies on regular exercise and healthy eating habits. You need the endorphins that exercise has to offer, which is critical at this time due to our present situation.
Many people are cutting the gym out of their daily routine to limit the exposure they have to others; but this doesn't mean that you should do away with exercise entirely. Getting regular exercise is important, as it's been proven to improve your mental health and boost your mood. In fact, studies show that only 15 minutes a day of exercise reduces the risk of major depression by 26%; exercising on a daily basis is something that we should all aim to do when working from home, since not getting out much and limiting your social interactions may not help if you're prone to feeling depressed.
If you don't have any work-out equipment, investing in a skipping rope for cardio and a yoga mat for full body workouts is a good idea. Getting proper exercise will not only help you feel more productive, but will greatly contribute to keeping you feeling sane and happy during this difficult time.
You also want to make sure that you're eating healthy during this time; you are what you eat, right? Carbohydrate-heavy foods can cause you to feel tired, exhausted and contribute to the dreaded afternoon crash—something you obviously want to avoid in order to be productive when you're working from home.
6. Keep Your House Clean
Studies show that your environment can have a huge impact on your mood, behaviour and motivation. For example, a crowded and cluttered house can make you feel unprepared for the day, and influence your work to be done haphazardly and carelessly. If you focus on keeping your house clean, it makes it easier to for you to get up, get dressed (the importance of which we discussed in number 1) and think more clearly about the work you're doing.
Remember that your environment can also impact your mood. If it's unkempt, with dishes piling up and laundry overflowing your baskets, you're also more likely to feel stressed and overwhelmed. Since working at home means that you can't be disconnected from your home life, you need to make sure that your environment is clean so it doesn't distract you.