When COVID-19 caused thousands of employees to leave the office and work from home, people found themselves with mixed emotions about their new working environment. In March, attending conference calls while wearing pajamas sounded great. Six months later? Not as fun. With many companies announcing a commitment to working remotely until 2021, it’s time to get real about your home office setup.
I’ve been working full-time remotely since 2013. Here are my top tips I gave my friends when they had to trade in Starbucks for Folgers:
Ditch the Kitchen Table/Sofa/Bed
Sure, the kitchen table might have provided a workspace over the spring, but let’s face it—your back pains are a result of sitting for six hours on a wooden chair or barstool. Find a place in your home where you can actually create an office space (with the ability to close the door!) If you don’t have a dedicated office in your home, try sharing with a spare bedroom. If a new office chair isn’t in the budget, you can purchase a lumbar support pillow that’s inexpensive but effective. Trust me—your chiropractor will thank you!
Work on Parent Boundaries
On one hand, I love the genuineness of other people’s children and animals making a guest appearance on a conference call. On the other hand, I get slightly embarrassed when my child makes a guest appearance and yells that he loves PJ Masks.
If your child is old enough, try hanging an Open/Closed sign outside your office door. If you have an important project or deadline, flip the sign to Closed for the afternoon. If you have a few hours where you’re working through emails, flip the sign to Open and let him know it’s okay to come in.
Take a Walk
When you’re working from home, it can be easy to convince yourself that you need to stay stationary all day long. Think about it this way—when you are in the office, how often do you walk around, grab coffee, and say hi to colleagues? If so, then give yourself permission to take a short walk and clear your mind. It’s easy to get wrapped up in projects for hours at a time. Get outside and grab some fresh air!
Shut Down the Laptop and Log Off
When I started working remotely, I found myself blurring the lines between home and office. It was so easy to answer an email at 7:30 pm or on the weekend. My home space and workspace were only a few feet away, it became difficult to shut down my professional brain and turn on my mom brain. Make a concerted effort to stop working at the same time you would have left the office, and stick to it. If you need the extra push, shut down your computer (instead of just closing the lid.)