4 Best Practices for Working from Home
Six months have now passed since the US first began to feel the effects of COVID-19 and its related social distancing measures. As cases continue to ebb and surge across the country, many companies continue to encourage – or even mandate – that their employees work remotely from home.
What began as a temporary displacement from the office is now turning into a long-term situation for many people, including right here in Michiana. Accepting this as a new reality means optimizing your work-at-home setup. Working at the dining room table while the kids completed schoolwork or watched TV in the next room might have been feasible in the early days, but months later, you might find yourself rethinking your habits!
To make the best of this situation and improve your ability to effectively work from home, it is important to create some healthy systems and habits.
1. Create a Routine and Regular Schedule
Working from home can pose challenges to even the most dedicated worker. When your commute is just a few steps down the hall and no one can see your pajama pants in a teleconference, it is easy to relax your standards around your workday. On the other hand, because there is no separation between the home and office, it also becomes easy to feel the need to respond to every email regardless of the time it comes in.
Be disciplined about setting a schedule and doing your best to stick to it. Talk with your manager about their expectations and what hours you need to be available and then maintain those hours consistently. Doing so will give your boss peace of mind knowing that you are focusing on your work, and you will be able to clock out at the end of the day (literally or figuratively) without feeling guilty.
2. Create a Workspace that is Conducive to Productivity
Depending on the layout of your home, this might be one of the more challenging aspects of working from home. But with the variety of corner desks, floating desks, and gaming tables now on the market, you can create a dedicated workspace in even the closest of quarters.
When setting up your workstation, keep in mind not only your technology needs but your body’s needs as well. A comfortable chair and computer mouse will alleviate back and wrist pain, but also think about the air around you. Try to place your desk near a window to allow for natural light, and when possible, allow fresh outdoor air to enter your home.
Additionally, you might wish to consider upgrading the HVAC system to improve the comfort of your home and help control the temperature, air quality and humidity. Recent studies have shown the benefits of improved air quality on worker productivity as workers in environments with better ventilation and cleaner air demonstrated better problem-solving skills and improvement scores on cognitive tests.
3. Maintain Healthy Habits
Maintain your physical health by continuing to eat right and exercise. One benefit of spending increased time at home is the ability to cook more healthy meals. Keep eating healthy and maintain a regular schedule to help ensure you get ample sleep. Exercise, even just a walk around the block, will help you get some fresh air.
If you are prone to allergies or other respiratory ailments, you might consider purchasing an air purifier. Not only will an air purifier help reduce the amount of allergens in your home’s air but models such as the iWave have been proven to reduce the level of active viruses in the air, including the virus that causes COVID-19.
4. Maintain Your Mental Health
Lastly, it is critical to maintain your mental health. Be sure to work breaks into your day and maintain connections with friends and coworkers. Getting out of the house, even for a few minutes, can help lift your spirits and clear your head.
Most importantly, be patient with yourself. Especially for those who are working at home with children, remember that, just like in the office, there will be days full of interruptions and distractions and you won’t be able to finish your to-do list, so go easy on yourself!
Whether temporarily or permanently, these tips, along with those found on this list from OSHA, can help set you up for a healthy and productive working environment at home.