According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 29% of workers have the ability to work from home on an average day (the number falls to 20.6% for wage and salaried workers). For those who are used to working in-office, the transition to working from home can be a challenge. With thousands of workplaces adopting a remote-first work environment in recent weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the sudden shift has undoubtedly left many employees feeling disconnected and distracted. To help navigate the transition, here are 5 tips that will help you acclimate to your new reality and create the best remote work environment possible:
- Get Dressed
It may be tempting to roll out of bed and tackle the workday in your pajamas, but science shows that what you wear has a significant impact on how you feel, think and behave. To ensure you remain in a professional state of mind, continue with your normal workday grooming habits and wear your standard work attire. Instead of relying solely on email, chat, phone calls or audio-only settings, make a point to communicate often with colleagues via video conferencing. Using a communication solution like Google Hang Outs Meet to talk to workmates face-to-face will not only motivate you to dress the part, but it will go a long way in helping you feel more connected.
- Optimize Your Workspace
Get creative with what you have at home to re-create your normal workspace as closely as possible. No monitor? Stack some books, an empty box, or any other stable item to prop up your screen. No desk? Clear off that corner of your kitchen table and claim it as your workspace. Try to pick a place that’s free from foot traffic and other distractions. Make sure to test your setup before you start joining video meetings to determine whether lighting conditions are good and to ensure that background clutter isn’t distracting.
- Stick to a Schedule
Unscheduled time when working from home can lead to distractions and feeling disconnected or isolated from your team. With Google Calendar, you can designate blocks of time each day for certain tasks such as following up with clients, clearing your inbox, or working on your project or presentation. Stick to these blocks as if they’re important meetings – don’t get sidetracked! Google Tasks enables you to create a to-do list within Gmail or the Google Tasks app. When you add a task, you can integrate it into your Gmail calendar, and add details or subtasks. A good habit is writing down the three most important tasks you need to accomplish each morning, and setting aside time to tackle those in the first part of the day.
Also important? Set a regularly scheduled time to connect with your team and manager for check-ins and updates, ideally once a day and at least once a week.
- Fortify Against Distractions
You know your work habits best, and you’re certainly aware of the type of environment you need in order to thrive. Tap into your personal needs to optimize your workspace and fortify against distractions. For example, if you’re someone who needs a quiet space to be productive, create and guard that space in your home as you would at work. If you have a headset or earplugs, put them to use to drown out noise. Keep your door closed, and let your family or roommates know what hours you’ll be at work – even though you’re home.
- Take Brain, Food, and Stretch Breaks
Without the reminder from colleagues or your normal routine at the office, it might be tempting to crank away, but breaks are important for your health, productivity, and focus. To ensure that you are refreshed and reenergized throughout the day, use Google Calendar to create recurring events for your daily breaks. You can also use the Pomodoro Technique or set a timer for every 90 minutes to remind yourself to get up, stretch your muscles, and refocus your mind. As you normally would, take your normal break for lunch, and keep yourself hydrated throughout the day.
Even though you and your colleagues are not in the same office or room, keep in mind that you’re all still on the same team, working towards the same mission. Staying mindful of your ‘why’ can go a long way toward keeping you motivated and engaged. Working from home can be difficult sometimes, but with the above tips in place, you’ll be ready to tackle your day just like any other.