Amid the uncertainty that surrounds the coronavirus, there is at least one bright spot we can appreciate, at least initially. That is the prospect of working from home, which is what most Americans are now being asked or, depending on how you can cope with this new “normal”, tasked to do. On the surface, under almost any other circumstances, working from home, or telecommuting as it is commonly referred to, might seem like a type of utopia. That’s because it would seem there are many advantages to working from home, with the most obvious being it’s a huge time saver by eliminating the daily commute. But many who are suddenly faced with “home work” may find it is an adjustment, especially at first.
Common challenges and tips when working from home
For most, once you get past the novelty of working in your pajamas, the reality sets in and you need to adjust. And by successfully navigating these adjustments you’ll find you can be more productive and enjoy all that working from home has to offer. Here are some considerations as you go about adapting to your new work surroundings:
It’s difficult to work and watch your children at the same time.
When working from home prepare to work some odd hours. That’s because balancing the two priorities of family and work mean you need to be flexible. During this difficult time, most employers will be sympathetic to those who have younger children. One solution is if you have a spouse or partner, try splitting your time, with you watching the children while the other works. Then switch so you have a chance to put in some work hours. You’ll find that by arranging to have quality work time the quality of your work will improve. You’ll also have greater peace of mind knowing your little ones are being taken care of. If you don’t have the advantage of having a spouse or partner who can help watch your children, even more flexibility will be necessary, and you’ll need to pay close attention to keeping small objects, such as toys, in a safe place until you have time to devote to your little ones. One area to pay special attention to are your window coverings, where cords can become a safety concern. At Budget Blinds, making window treatments safer for homes with infants, children, and pets is one of our top priorities. That’s why we offer a vast selection of child-safe window treatments to reduce the risk of accidents.
Be careful not to overschedule yourself.
Although working from home may offer you extra time since you no longer commute, be mindful of scheduling too much in your workday. You still only have so many hours in a day and in a relaxed home work environment it’s easy to over commit. Consider using the same work calendar and office work habits when it comes to self-scheduling phone call meetings and planning out your day. With most people working from home during this time, you’re likely to have a greater number of conference calls to stay in touch and coordinate projects. Just be aware that while working from home, something might come up on the “home front” that could require your attention, such as the needs of your children or pets.
Be sure you have a stable internet connection.
While you are no doubt used to the robust high-speed data and internet connections at your office, working from home, productively, means you’ll need to check to ensure your internet is capable of reliable and fast data speeds. Uploading and downloading heavy files requires adequate bandwidth so it’s a good idea to see if your internet provider can check your internet performance. A good speed for most in today’s workforce is 100 Mbps, but this can vary depending on your own unique requirements. Just as important as the speed however, is the reliability and stability. Be sure to get current, updated modem and router equipment to reduce internet downtime.
Save your receipts.
Many employers may reimburse you for office and business-related expenses when working from home. From internet upgrades to a home printer and even postage stamps and paper clips, it’s a good idea to save all your receipts. Sometimes even the most insignificant expenses can add up over time. Even if your employer won’t reimburse for these, many home office expenses are tax deductible. However, before deducting any of these expenses be sure to check with your qualified tax preparer or professional.
Stay focused and disciplined.
While it will be tempting to jump on Facebook or turn on the TV for the latest updates on the news, practicing self-discipline and staying focused on your work is important. If you have other family members at home, be sure to close your office door, if you have one. Try to eliminate any distractions as much as possible. Staying focused also means avoiding the compulsion to do household chores during work hours. The laundry, dishes in the sink, all these daily responsibilities can wait, depending on how much work time flexibility you may have.
If you’re alone, it doesn’t mean you have to be lonely.
During this work from home phase most households will have more than one person home throughout their workday, but this is not necessarily the case for everyone. For those who may be single, it’s important for their own mental health to allow time for connecting with other co-workers or just a friend who might have a few minutes for conversation - via Skype, Facetime or Zoom. It’s recently been said that the new term, “social distancing” might be misnamed, and that we should really adopt the term, “physical distancing”, since we don’t want or need to adjust our social connections, just our physical boundaries. Be sure to take short breaks throughout the day to make that phone call to a family member or loved one and see how they are coping during these challenging times. Chances are, your phone call, video chat, email, or text message will put a smile on your face as much as those you interact with socially.
Don’t forget the power of networking.
Although you may at times feel a bit isolated with your work from home lifestyle, networking can be a great way to stay connected and relieve that feeling of isolation. LinkedIn is easily accessible and allows you to stay in touch with other like-minded professionals. You can also stay up to date with industry trends relating to your work, or reach out to colleagues, even post industry-related topics to your LinkedIn contacts as a way to help establish yourself as a subject matter expert. And don’t forget to suggest meeting someone in person for a cup of coffee as long as you’re keeping your 6 foot “physical distancing” intact. The power of person-to-person relationships is priceless during these challenging times.
Take advantage of your home’s environment.
While staying focused and disciplined will help enhance your work from home productivity, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some home time. If you are one who can work effectively with music in the background, create an enhanced environment that’s conducive to you doing your best work. Afterall, you’re not at the office anymore, you’re in your home. Budget Blinds has partnered with SONOS to offer state-of-the-art wireless speakers and sound systems that promise to elevate your listening experience beyond compare. Who knows, you may even find yourself imitating Tom Cruise in “Risky Business” while working from home…dancing in your living room at the end of a long yet productive workday!
Whatever your work from home situation might entail, rest assured you will not be alone in your situation as America and the rest of the world moves forward. Our country and our way of life was built upon hard work, ingenuity, and a willingness to make sacrifices, and together we will overcome challenges like this and return to the “normal” we knew before.