Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, telecommuting has become the new normal for many of us. Even when this crisis will finally be behind us, we can expect many companies will keep at least a portion of their employees working remotely. By and large, the results of working from home, which was initially seen as a temporary situation, are much more positive than expected. Working from home has huge benefits, both for companies and their employees, but it can also have negative impacts on performance, mental health, and physical well-being. If you are working from home, these valuable tips are for you!
1. Maintain your usual routine
In order to remain as productive as possible, it is important to have a solid routine at home. This will help you get into “work mode”. In the morning, go through a similar morning ritual as when you went to the office: drink a coffee, take a shower, go jogging… Above all, do not stay in your pajamas! Dressing up will put you in a “professional” mood. Outside of business hours, maintain your usual eating, sleeping and exercise habits. It will help you adjust to your new reality.
If you thought you’d take advantage of working at home to stay in your pajamas all day, before learning it’s better not to, here’s a suggestion for you: Allow yourself that special experience on Fridays! This will act as a reward for a job well done during the week and will not become a counter-productive habit.
2. Communicate regularly with your manager and colleagues
Telecommuting obviously comes with less oversight, which is why it is important to communicate regularly with your manager. They will be in a better position to clearly communicate their expectations, provide better support and follow up on the projects you are working on. Ditto for your colleagues; Contacting them frequently will allow you to share ideas, but also to socialize. It can be depressing not having any social contact. Maintaining proximity with colleagues is therefore beneficial, even if it is an informal discussion that does not concern work. We are lucky to have technological tools which enable easy communication over long distances – while respecting the social distancing imposed by the pandemic, so let’s take advantage of them and take care of each other!
The employer can help facilitate these exchanges between colleagues and maintain a healthy corporate culture by offering social platforms. For example, at Encore Travel, we use the internal social network Yammer, on which we have groups that are more formal to share corporate news and trainings, but also more informal ones, to share jokes or recipes. We also frequently organize virtual meetings, both to exchange ideas on the projects we are working on and to celebrate the victories of the week.
3. Organize your schedule well
It is essential to plan your days well. Working from home means you must be much more autonomous than at the office; Self-discipline and organization are therefore particularly important to remain successful. Make a list of your goals, in order of priority. Budgeting your time in advance by assigning calendar slots dedicated to working on specific projects, makes a big difference. When planning your schedule, take into consideration the fluctuation of your performance. Are you more motivated in the morning than in the afternoon? If so, keep your tasks that require more concentration for these times. Ideally, try to plan your schedule in advance, so that you are ready to work at the beginning of your day.
At Encore, every morning, each department meets virtually, and each person shares their three top priorities for the day. Not only does this allow us to fully understand where everyone is and to follow up on ongoing projects, but it also gives us the opportunity to socialize and keep in touch.
4. Take breaks and stay active
When working from home, it can be easy not to notice time flying by. Remember, however, to take frequent breaks. Take the time to stretch, take in some fresh air, and hydrate. It is important not to stay in the same position too long to avoid straining your body and eyes, so you shouldn’t stay at your computer during your breaks. Take the time to stop working for a lunch break, go eat in another room, and make sure you relax during this time. Seize the opportunity to go outside and get moving; it is important to get out of the house at least once a day. You will come back from this break refreshed and ready to get back to work.
5. Separate your professional and personal life
When travelling to and from work, the commute can help us get out of a work mindset back into a family mindset. Working from home, there is no transition period, so you can find yourself at work directly after breakfast, and back into your family life right after your last meeting of the day. To properly separate your professional and personal life, it is recommended to stick to fixed office hours. During these hours, dedicate yourself 100% to your work. Outside of these hours, try to disconnect from work. Starting and ending your day with a break in your routine can also serve as a transition period: a walk with your dog, a phone call with family or a glass of wine, for example.
If you have children at home during the workday, it can be difficult to separate work and family life. It is essential to establish rules to minimize disruptions during office hours. Set clear expectations around what they can and cannot do while you are working. You can even organize a routine for them to keep them occupied. Rewards and positive reinforcement are great ways to keep children engaged! Do not hesitate to offer privileges in exchange for not being disturbed during a meeting, for example.
6. Have a space dedicated to work
At home, it is generally easier to get distracted. It is therefore important to have a space reserved exclusively for work. This place should ideally be quiet and contain no distractions. Having a space that you associate with your work activities and not with relaxation will help you stay focused and go a long way in separating your work and personal life. Make sure you have the necessary equipment to perform your tasks, including a high-performance and reliable computer, a headset, a desk with storage, a good internet connection, the software relevant to your job, etc. Your employer should be able to provide you with what you need.
The ergonomics of your workstation is very important. Make sure to adjust your chair so that your shoulders are relaxed, and your forearms are resting well on your desk. If your feet are not touching the floor, stack books. Keep your screen at eye level and far enough away from your face. Your laptop should be tilted, and it is recommended to have a separate mouse and keyboard.
7. Treat yourself!
Working from home has several advantages, including greater freedom. Take the opportunity to treat yourself! Put on some music if it helps motivate you without distracting you, take advantage of access to the kitchen to cook yourself healthy meals, etc. In addition, you save time by not having to commute, which gives you the perfect opportunity to spend more time with your family or start strumming on that guitar you have not touched in years. In short, let’s make the most out of everyday, even when working from home!