Nov 1, 2020
Working from home provides a great deal of flexibility, but it can also pose several unique challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated the creation of new work environments, new routines, and using remote technology that does not always cooperate.
As we continue to navigate working in the office and remotely during the pandemic, below are some tips that can help make remote working more manageable.
When working from home, maintaining a good work-life balance is important. It’s easy to find yourself working longer hours or neglecting exercise and family life. Experts agree, establishing and maintaining a daily routine is important for physical and mental health. Set a schedule that works for you and stick with it.
Use Alarms: Consider setting an alarm to start your morning routine and another indicating you should head to your home office space. You can also create alarms for taking exercise breaks and ending your workday. When your alarm goes off at the end of the day, leave your workspace and call it a day, as often as possible.
Group Meetings Together: Another strategy is to group your meetings together at certain times of the day, so you don’t have to start and stop your projects. I tend to schedule meetings in the morning to create large blocks of time in the afternoon to work on projects.
Dedicated Workspace: A dedicated workspace can help reduce distractions and improve efficiency. Try to consistently work from the same spot in your home every day. Make sure your workspace has good natural lighting and enough space.
Even though I maintain a consistent office space, I often get restless. I find it helpful to move to another room in the house to refocus and when attending meetings. This feels akin to going to a conference room, and I can concentrate on the meeting without the distraction of my computer.
Because offices began shutting down so quickly, many people were not fully prepared to work from home with all the same functionality and comfort. It’s important to create a space that is conducive to working efficiently. Over the past several months, I have re-arranged my home office several times to de-clutter and establish an environment that meets my work-flow needs. I eliminate as many distractions as possible while filling my workspace with furniture and lighting that creates a peaceful environment.
Standing Desk: Because we spend so much time sitting, you might consider investing in a standing desk. These allow you to work while standing or sitting and provide many health benefits. Studies show standing while working for just 30 minutes at a time for a few hours each day can have a major positive impact on your health1. Standing reduces back pain, increases calorie burn, lowers your risk of heart disease, reduces your risk of diabetes, and can improve your mood and increase happiness. I have noticed a huge difference in how I feel standing in front of my computer instead of sitting all day.
You can purchase an electronic desk that is fully adjustable or find a converter/riser that sits on top of the desk. I purchased a converter/riser for my desk at work and recently ordered an electric standing desk for my home office. I purchased my desks from Flexispot but there are several good brands at different price points.
Additional Monitor: Laptop monitors are small and can be hard to read. A second monitor helps you manage several types of work simultaneously. Consider purchasing a large monitor to use with your laptop or using a flat screen TV as a second monitor. All you need is an HDMI cable (available on Amazon or at a local store for under $12) to connect your computer to the TV.
Chair: Because we spend so much time sitting, it’s important to have a good chair, even with a standing desk. Generally, you need to spend about $300+ to get a great chair. The Steelecase brand is very comfortable and customizable to support the needs of your frame, but there are numerous brands out there that fit the bill.
Mouse: I recommend investing in a good ergonomic mouse. I purchased the Logitech Wireless Trackball mouse, which comes in several versions and price points. It allows your hand to remain stationary and works well in reducing wrist and arm pain.
According to PC Magazine, there has been a 350% increase in phishing attempts since the COVID-19 outbreak started.2 Personally, I have seen an uptick in phishing attempts on my phone and my personal email in the last two months.
Security Tools: Hackers look for open and unsecured networks. Make sure your home network is password protected and shut down and sign off your computer at the end of each day. If you’re not using a company laptop, be sure to keep your security software updated and to utilize strong passwords.
Following Your Employer’s Security Practices: Your home is now an extension of your office. Follow the protocols your employer has established to ensure your documents are not compromised.
Good nutrition is always important, but during this pandemic, it’s even more important because a well-balanced, nutritious diet helps support a strong immune system. Cut down on foods that can ramp up anxiety, like sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. You can indulge in treats, but avoid going overboard. Eating too much junk food can increase your anxiety and make you feel sluggish.
Establishing and maintaining a daily work routine is incredibly important, but it’s equally important to establish an exercise routine. Schedule times during the day to take a break and take a walk. Exercise increases your mental acuity, relieves stress, and releases endorphins to make you happier.
If you don’t typically exercise, start small and do something you enjoy. Increase the time slowly and see how it goes. I started incorporating 30-minute yoga sessions into my morning routine and noticed that I feel stronger and much calmer. If I miss my morning yoga session, I make time to walk the dog, go biking, or practice yoga in the evening. No matter what you do, keep moving and get plenty of rest!
I hope you find these tips helpful in increasing your productivity and keeping you motivated while working remotely during these crazy times!
Creighton is currently the knowledge management and library manager at Porter Wright Morris and Arthur. Creighton received her JD from Northern Kentucky University and master’s degree in library science from the University of Kentucky.
1 6 Benefits of Using a Standing Desk, Teeter Blog, https://teeter.com/blog/6-benefits-standing-desk.
2 Phishing Attacks Increase 350 Percent Amid COVID-19 Quarantine, PC Magazine, https://www.pcmag.com/news/phishing-attacks-increase-350-percent-amid-covid-19-quarantine.