First, let me welcome all of you who are new to remote work. I’ve been working from a home office for the past 12 years. In that time, I’ve made plenty of mistakes, fallen into bad habits and learned from them all. The transition to working from home can be a bit overwhelming and focusing on your well-being may not initially be at the top of your list. I’ve put together some lessons learned that I hope will inspire you to make your health a priority for as long as your work from home journey lasts.
Without the commute and daily movement around a typical office, you may find yourself moving a lot less when working remotely. To keep yourself active might require more intentional movement. With the current recommendations on social distancing, it is important to look beyond the gym. Plan for walks throughout your day. Virtual walking meetings are a great way to keep active as well. If you are concerned about background noise, schedule a test call with a trusted colleague or friend to see how much background noise you experience walking around your neighborhood. Certain headsets, ear buds and other audio devices pick up more noise than others. (Lesson learned: High wind is not your friend on calls.) Take stretch breaks. These desk yoga poses can be done even while seated at your desk.
One of the biggest perks of visiting our accounts is the food. The variety of fresh, delicious options is always way better than what I keep on hand at home. If you are used to getting your lunch, breakfast and even snacks while in the office, you may need to do a little more planning while at home. A little time the night before or in the morning to plan what your meals and snacks will be can take away some of the stress of decision making and reduce the likelihood of grazing all day from the kitchen. Visit our recipes page for inspiration.
New or occasional remote workers often set up their office in their kitchen or dining area. This makes a lot of sense if you don’t have a dedicated desk to use, but may not be the best from a cleanliness standpoint. Workplace offices are usually cleaned regularly and unfortunately those services don’t come with us when we work from home. Set up an area to work from that can be easily and regularly cleaned. Continue to wash your hands regularly, but especially before eating. Avoid eating in the same space that you work. The CDC includes cleaning recommendations in their guidelines on preventing COVID-19.
One of the things I miss most about working in an office is the collaboration with colleagues that is often hard to replicate virtually. If your team is new to remote work, schedule regular times to catch up to stay connected. Set aside some time without a specific agenda. Open ended conversations can be good for morale and often spur creativity that you won’t see with very structured calls.
The most common issue I hear when talking to other people who work from home is the difficulty with balancing work and home obligations. Work can easily spill over into extra hours when there isn’t a clear start and stop time marked by arriving at or leaving the office. It can be hard to focus on work when you see the laundry piling up. If you have children this can be especially hard if they don’t understand the idea of you working if you aren’t physically at work. If possible, set up a dedicated space where you work that reduces the amount of non-work distractions. Multi-tasking is not always a good thing. Dedicating your time and focus to specific tasks can reduce stress and improve the quality of your efforts. When it is time to work, do your best to put the household tasks out of your mind. When the work day is over, turn off your computer and close up your “office.”