What we are seeing happen around the world in response to the coronavirus – mass cancellations in the sports and entertainment arenas, schools moving exclusively to online classes, businesses asking their employees who can work from home to do so – is unprecedented in my lifetime. This is all being done to try to slow down the spread of the virus.
Technology allows for schools and workplaces to continue to function during times like this. I completed most of my seminary education online. For me, and others, this option allowed me to get a degree in a way that worked with my particular situation, which included working full-time and living a few hours from the seminary.
The organization that I worked at my entire career has just asked those that can work from home to do so, effective immediately. For most, I would expect that this will not be a concern at all. In fact, near the end of my career, many of my team members chose to work from home one day a week. Online meeting technologies have improved significantly over the past several years, and many people would even occasionally choose to use that format as a convenience to attend meetings even if they were onsite in our large campus.
As I started my day the last several years of my career, I would begin each morning by working a few hours at home before going into work. This was primarily to prepare for the day and to get caught up on email. I worked from home an entire workday just a few times, and frankly didn’t really enjoy it. Even though I found that I could probably be more productive working at home – due to a lack of interruptions, etc. – I found myself missing the in-person interaction with team members and others, which some may find surprising, as I am an introvert.
If you are in a situation where you find yourself working from home (for weeks, or even months, potentially), how can you make the most of it? Here are a few suggestions:
- Settle into a routine. Determine your usual location to work, and then make sure you are logged on at the time you would normally be in the office. This doesn’t mean that you can’t work out on the deck/patio on a beautiful day, but find your default location and primarily stick with that. Some might choose to work at a coffee shop, but you would be opening yourself up to distractions and perhaps security/confidentiality issues as well if you chose to work there.
- Be physically comfortable. Enjoy staying in your pajamas/sweats/yoga pants! If possible, use an ergonomically (adjustable) chair, have proper lighting, etc., so that your body is comfortable sitting for long periods of time. You won’t have meetings to walk to, so make it a point to get up to stretch at least every hour. A suggestion I have heard in regards to the virus is to take a drink of water every 15 minutes. One person suggested setting a reminder on your smart phone to remind you to do so. And remember, refrain from touching your face; this will be hard to do as you sit at your computer all day.
- Be a worker with character. A definition of character that I’ve used for years is “doing the right thing with nobody watching”. Discipline yourself to not check social media, not have the television on, or not do household chores such as laundry, except on breaks. Be a worker – and person – that your leader can trust explicitly.
These are 3 suggestions I had on how to effectively work from home during this period. What would you add to this list?