Welcome to your new office: your home.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced most of us to quickly relocate our workspace into our homes. Working from home can be a nice break from going into the office, but having an ongoing work-from-home situation can become a little stressful when you’re not used to it.
If you’re new to working from home, you’re probably going to find yourself spending a lot of time on Zoom (or any other video conferencing service) to connect with your team.
Here are a few ways to liven up your space and create a conducive work environment just inches away from your bed, or couch.
Stick to a routine
Working under your own roof blurs the lines between work and home – it means logging on earlier and logging off later than usual.
The problem is you’re starting earlier, you grab your phone and you look at something and you think you need to answer it right away and you just start working. The next thing you know, it’s noon and you’re still in your pajamas, you haven’t showered, you’re in a funk and your day is thrown off.
Stick to a routine when you’re home. Try setting your alarm an hour or two before the actual time you have to start working so you can prepare breakfast, eat, and set your priority list for the day.
Adopt a time-blocking scheme so you can dedicate your time to a specific task, gauge which parts of the day will be heavy, and see when you can take my breaks.
The struggle with working from home is finding a balance between accountability and autonomy. Most managers will be tempted to micro-manage, and most employees will have to bear the brunt of this.
Check-in via chat at the start of the day and outline your projects.
Online meetings can be followed by debriefs to align and make sure everyone is on the same page, and meeting notes are shared to make sure everybody keeps track of how a project or task is moving.
Greenery and lighting can work wonders
Set up your station near a source of daylight. Given that you’ll spend most of your time indoors take in as much sun as possible. If not possible, be as close to a light source or even set up a study lamp. A well-lit workspace will not only light up your area, it will also help you fight sleepiness while you work.
Make sure to pay attention to ventilation. Studies show that proper airflow allows for better cognitive function. Use a humidifier to help improve your room’s air quality and put you in the mood to work.
Adding plants near your station will help improve air quality, plus greenery helps with avoiding eye strain caused by staring for hours at your computer screen – they give you a visual breather.
Keep everything you need within an arm’s reach so you won’t have to move around and lose your focus
Beat the lockdown blues
When you’re ready to call it a day, make sure to keep your desk cleared: your stationery packed, your computers closed or turned off, and your files hidden, to tell your brain that it’s time to stop working.
The struggle with working from home is not knowing when to stop. It will be a rough month, and boredom and social isolation will likely be a challenge.
With most establishments being restricted or closed, we will find ourselves with nothing else to do after a long day at work.
When Netflix and social media are no longer enough, read a book or listen to a podcast.
Video call your friends and family members or chat your, or even your bosses (they’re probably going through the same adjustment as you, or are they).
Chat your significant other if you’re taken, or be more active on dating apps if you’re still searching (but social distancing please, keep things in the chatroom). These times call for us to be more patient, thoughtful, and creative, both in love and in life.
Fixing up your workspace may be the last thing on your mind during a pandemic, and if you feel like it’s easier to just roll out of bed and hop onto your computer, by all means, please do so.
Filters are an easy fix to make your space presentable during video calls, and there’s plenty to choose from, depending on your mood.
With Zoom, you can choose your background, you can upload any photo.
People know everyone’s working from home, so there are a lot of human aspects. We have families, we have things, and it might just be a time to share a little bit of who you are with people you work with. It’s better for people to actually accept the humanity, and that we’re all going through a shared experience together.
One pro tip: When you’re doing a video conference, put your laptop on some sort of elevated surface so the camera is at your eyesight. It’s just a better angle for everyone and it’s often more flattering.