The COVID-19 outbreak has businesses doing what they can to limit the spread of the virus. Phrases like “flatten the curve” are becoming an everyday phrase. The responsibility of “flattening the curve” has been passed on from workplaces to now employees who are now working from home. Some are excited to work from home – the opportunity to take business calls in their PJs is a comfortable alternative to the suits and ties that are normally worn. But… being cooped up in your home for days on end can cause some cabin fever. Having a healthy relationship with an at-home workplace will keep the cabin fever at bay – here’s what you can do:
1. Keep your routine.
Get up in the morning at the same time you normally would. Sure, you can sleep in a bit sometimes… but still get up in the morning. Brush your teeth, shower, and keep the same morning routine as you would if you were going to work. This will keep your mind within the frames of normalcy (as best as you can) and will ease your transition back to your regular work routine once the COVID-19 outbreak blows over.
2. Keep a dedicated workspace.
When you sit down to work from home, you want your mind to snap into action and get “in the zone”. One of the ways you can do this is to dedicate an area in your home that you keep only for working from home. A home office is a perfect spot, however, if you don’t have a home office, choose another low-traffic spot in your house. For readers in smaller apartments with a roommate or partner, you can try setting up a temporary desk in your bedroom.
3. Set boundaries with the people you live with.
Your roommates, your spouse, your family… set some boundaries with the people sharing your living space and let them know what hours of the day you won’t be available.
4. Start your workday by creating a work to-do list.
Even better yet, create your to-do list at the end of each workday for the next day. This should be a realistic to-do list that will keep you on track with all of the deadlines you normally have to abide by. As you go through your day, check completed items off your list. If new things come up, add them to a list for the next day if you estimate it will lengthen the working hours you’ve committed to in #3. It’s important to keep your commitments to the people you live with, especially when we are going to be living together closer than ever. Sticking to being finished by 5 PM, for example, will also help regulate the normalcy that exists for others outside of your work life.
5. Be visible to your work colleagues.
Comment on Slack, hit up Microsoft Teams, and use your work social platforms to stay connected with your colleagues. Talk to your team! Let people know you’re there and working away alongside everyone else.
6. Pay extra attention to your communication.
Explain everything word-for-word as if you were explaining it to a 5-year-old. The communication challenges faced in the office are made exponentially worse if you’re not used to distance working. Pay extra attention to communication – clarify what you’re trying to convey, and ask for clarification in return.
7. Prepare for your meetings the same way that you would in the office.
Prepare your agenda and send it out, assign a meeting minute-taker, review your notes, and start and finish your meeting on time. This is another item that helps to keep the normalcy of working in an office environment. Abiding by the same standards will keep yourself and others in your regular working routine.
8. Take breaks as you normally would.
Make a hot coffee and go for a brisk 10-minute walk every 2 hours or so. I’ve personally been doing this and have found that it keeps the cabin fever at bay. I’ve also started making lunch from scratch during my lunch breaks and it makes me feel like I’m treating myself.
Stay safe, everyone!