If you suddenly find yourself working from home, we’d first like to say ‘thank you!’ to you and your company for making this possible. You’re doing your part to flatten the curve, keep our vulnerable populations safe, and kick this pandemic in the teeth. We’re all in this together.
We also get that this is uncharted territory for most of you. Your routines have been upended and this likely feels really strange, adding pressure to an already tense situation.
There is some good: Now that we all live in Zoom, you’re getting to know your co-workers and clients better than ever before. You’re virtually meeting their pets and children when they pop up to say “hi.” You’re seeing a glimpse of their wonderful homes, and you’re likely checking in with each other more now than ever before.
But there are challenges. Oh, are there challenges. Video conference glitches, sharing office space with your spouse, bored kids, and the siren call of your TV to name a few. Working from home is not like working from the office.
SuperScript is a virtual team, so most of us are old pros at working from home – we do it every day and we’ve got it down to a science (glitches and all). And we’re unreasonably excited to share all our unsolicited advice about how to WFH without going crazy.
We tapped our virtual team for their best tips on how to work from home productively and enjoyably — with or without human/fur babies in the mix.
- Set work hours — and stick to them
If you don’t have a clear distinction between work and your personal life, the two bleed together and your home becomes a swamp of anxiety and exhaustion, rather than a sanctuary (and we need a sanctuary more than ever right now). Close your laptop, turn off your phone, pause your email, do whatever you have to do to create that separation. – Casey Hynes
- Create a work set-up
You may not have a dedicated office space in your home, and that’s OK. You can get creative, but you’ll want to carve out a space for your equipment that mirrors (as closely as possible) what you’re used to working with at the office. For me, an office-like setup is helpful: desk, chair, keyboard, mouse and monitor. It is hard for me to get things done on a laptop! But if you’re a laptop worker, even carving out a space at the kitchen table can be enough to turn your mind toward working. — Lizzie Martini
- But don’t forget to adapt around your kids (and your life)
As you probably found out about five minutes into this journey, working with kids at home isn’t easy. The key is to be adaptable as possible while keeping a daily routine.
In the morning before the kids wake up, I sit down and do my quiet time. Then I prioritize my to-do list for the day. Keep your list to simple must-do’s so you know what you have to get done and you still give yourself some flexibility to balance your time and avoid the mom-guilt/employee-guilt cycle. – Emily Nankivell
- Try to keep the interruptions down
It can be really hard to stay productive at home as it is, because there are constant temptations to do the laundry or the dishes or go take a nap. But if your spouse is bursting in to tell you something or ask a random question or your roommate is regaling you with new coronavirus stats she’s finding online, it’s going to be super hard to get anything done.
This is infinitely harder with kids, but if you can: nicely ask the other adults to give you space at least a few hours a day so you can power through your most important tasks. — Casey Hynes
- Create a working environment that keeps everyone comfortable
Chances are you and your spouse (or your roommate) are both working from home together. And you’re likely going to bump elbows, especially if you don’t have dedicated office spaces. To keep things comfortable for everyone, decide if you’re an extrovert or an introvert. I’m more introverted — I love having my own space and a door to close when needed. My husband is more extroverted. He roams around the house as he works. Try to set up an at-home working situation that fits your personality. — Nicole Maestri
- Your snack stash is a marathon, not a sprint
Be careful of the fridge, especially if you’ve stocked up on snacks for social distancing. It’s natural to want to get up and stretch your legs a little, but often you’ll find yourself wandering to the kitchen. Check in with yourself to make sure you’re actually hungry and not eating just to do something different. As an alternative, a quick walk outside can be a nice way to get some fresh air and reset. — Louis DeNicola
- Take breaks
I am so guilty of not leaving my house for days at a time when I am working from home. This is just a recipe for depression and lethargy, so get a little fresh air and walk around outside your house, even for a few minutes. Social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t leave at all, just remember to keep 6 feet away from everyone else. — Casey Hynes
- Figure out your true workstyle
In an office, you have constant “breaks,” often in the form of chit chat or meetings. At home, things are more fluid. Make a note of when, and how, you work best. Some people work best for a solid hour and then need a coffee break. Others do The Pomodoro Technique — 25 minutes of solid concentration than a short break. Finding what works for you can make your days much smoother. — Nicole Maestri
- Connect without people outside of your worksphere
Working from home can be isolating. While social distancing is putting limits on what we can do outside of the house, there are plenty of ways you can still connect. Join a new Facebook group, set up video group chats with old college buddies, or even join your kids in an online video game. It’s a different way to get energized. And a different perspective if you’re able to bounce ideas off someone else. — Amanda Bruyere
- Put on those work clothes
We’re not advocating you actually sit at your kitchen table in a three-piece power suit, but getting up and getting dressed can help you set the tone for the day, tell your brain you’re “at work,” and most importantly, help you feel proactive and human. — Colleen Kane
- Change your temperature
At some point — or several points on a hard day — working virtually is going to wear on you. When you feel like you’re hitting a creative block, try changing your temperature to shake your mind loose. It seems like odd advice, but experts like Tony Robbins recommend a cold shower or a quick burst of cardio to snap you into focus. — Anna Wolf
- Go easy on yourself
In an office setting you have a structure that mostly keeps you on-point and on-task. At home, finding that structure and balance is much harder. Right now, especially, we need to be kind to ourselves. It is all too easy to fall into a guilt trap.
If you get distracted for a half-hour talking to your kids, you worry you’re letting your boss or co-workers down. Work later than usual and you worry you’re messing up your work life balance or letting your family down. Remember that right now, you’re trying your best, and everyone knows that. — Angela Colley