Many people are working from home now thanks to the COVID-19 (aka the Coronavirus) bug that’s running through the world like mad.
Some people (like me) work from home all the time, so we’re pretty used to this. For other people, this is a pretty new thing, this working from home thing. I wanted to share a few tips that you should keep in mind when working from home.
(Sorry it’s a video of a TV, it’s what we have right now.)
- When working from home during this time, work from home. Don’t work from StarBucks, or The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, or your favorite coffee shop, pizza joint, donut store, or co-working space. In fact, these are all places that you should be avoided as much as possible, and you sure don’t want to be hanging out in them for hours as that’s the same effect as going to work and putting yourself at risk.
- When working from home, have your family pretend that you are at work and you aren’t there. They shouldn’t be distracting you with little tasks all day that only will take 5 minutes. A few of those and your workday is shot (and they never take just 5 minutes). Emergencies are obviously the exception, but those are the things that you’d be called at work for anyway.
- Don’t work at the kitchen or dining room table if you can avoid it. If you have someone you can set up as a home office, even if it’s just a temporary one, do so. This way you have a “work area” and a “home area”. This leads directly to my next point.
- When your work is done for the next, leave”work” and go to the rest of the house, and try not to go back into your work area again for the night. This is why you want a clear work area so that you can leave work and go into the family area of the house.
- Have some sort of chat or collaboration software that you can use with your co-workers. Your company will probably have something set up for you to use already. If not talk to your boss about getting something for your company to use. At DCAC we use Microsoft Teams, which is available for free for 6 months as Microsoft wants to support companies during this sudden shift to working from home. But uses something. You’ll want communication with the team, and after a few hours (or a few days) you’ll want some personal communication. I know that as a team the folks at DCAC talk on Teams all day long bouncing ideas off each other, asking questions, and just having the same office banter that you’d normally have in person; we are just live in different states.
- Stock up on food. You’re going to want to avoid places with high foot traffic, so stock up on shelf-stable foods like pasta, frozen chicken, canned or frozen veggies, etc. This way you can minimize your trips to the store and the possible exposure that comes from those trips.
- Be mindful of others in the house. If you’ve got conference calls and other people are home, don’t use a speakerphone of the speakers on your computer unless you are in a closed room. This is especially true if you’ve got children that are home from school doing distance learning because their schools are closed.
- If you have a back yard, take advantage of it. That’ll give you somewhere to go outside, get some fresh air and not be cooped up in the house. Take your breaks out there, or if you don’t have a yard just step outside your front door for a few minutes when you take your breaks so that you can get some fresh air and not be cooped up in the house all day.
- Take your breaks, just like normal. You don’t want to be sitting for 8 hours straight, as that isn’t good for you. Take breaks, get up walk around a little. Just because you are working from home doesn’t mean you have to be tied to your computer for 8 hours straight.
You’ll recognize a couple of these points from the video above when I was on the WSOC news last week. Hopefully, these tips will help out the first time work from home person.