Thanks to the connectedness of our electronic world, millions of people are working from home this month while they self-isolate to reduce the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). As glamourous as working from home may seem, it does present several challenges, including communication barriers with colleagues, and difficulties accessing and sharing important files. Follow these 7 practical tips to reduce unnecessary stress while working from home during a time of uncertainty.
1. Make sure you have access to the necessary software
Regardless of whether you intend to use your work laptop or home computer, speak with your company’s IT department to check that you have the correct VPN software installed to enable secure remote access to shared files, emails, and intranet. You may need an external dongle, depending on the VPN system your company uses.
If using a personal computer to work from home, check you have the same version of Microsoft Office as you use at work as well as any specialist software like MYOB, Microsoft Access, or Adobe Creative Cloud. If you need to purchase additional software, keep the receipt to claim back at tax time or reimbursement through your employer.
2. Have a dedicated workspace
If you don’t already have a home office, the idea of working from your kitchen table, couch, or even bed may sound appealing, but having a dedicated workspace is extremely important for your physical and mental health. Set your laptop on a raised table, use a reem of paper to lift it higher if you need to, and sit on a chair that supports your lower back. Try to keep your “work space” separate from your “living space”, even it’s as simple as sliding over to a different dining chair to eat meals.
If more than one member of your family is working from home, ensure there’s a dedicated workspace for each person.
3. Keep to your usual routine as much as possible
When working from home, it can be very tempting to put on a load of washing or quickly throw the ball for an energetic dog when you’d usually be working. Self-discipline is key. If you work 9-5 with a 1-hour lunch break in the office, work 9-5 with a 1-hour lunch break at home.
4. Avoid distractions
As mentioned above, chores, family members, pets, and other elements of your home life can easily bleed into work hours when working from home. Allowing yourself to be distracted will only hurt yourself when you fall behind in your daily tasks and ongoing projects. Plus, it’s dishonest to your employer.
Express the importance of a quiet work environment to children and other family members. Perhaps it can help to close the door of the home office (shutting your kids in their bedrooms would work too!) Other tools to avoid distractions include keeping your personal phone on silent and out of sight (like you would at work), and turning off the television if working in the living room.
5. Take regular breaks
It’s no surprise that working in an office can be a strain on your physical health, but working from home can be even worse. Think about it, you don’t walk to the bus stop or train station twice a day, you don’t walk to your favourite sandwich shop for lunch, and you don’t walk around the office to ask questions of colleagues or attend meetings. When working from home, it’s extra important to be mindful of squeezing enough movement into your day. Some easy tips include walking a few laps around the house or yard during your lunch break, or starting and finishing the day with 10 minutes of gentle stretching.
6. Be reachable during office hours
If you don’t already have a work phone, you may need to talk to your boss about using your personal phone while working at home. Agree to either be compensated for your work phone calls or claim your phone usage in your tax return. Make sure your boss, colleagues, and clients have the best number to contact you on. It may also help to talk to your IT team about setting up your work emails on your personal phone.
7. Make sure you have access to high-speed Internet
If you plan to access your work emails, shared files, or intranet from home, you’ll need access to high-speed internet with a decent data allowance. Talk to your IT department to make sure your home internet service is sufficient.
If you’re unsure whether your home Internet connection will do the trick, or if you want to keep your work Internet usage separate from home, consider investing in a reliable Teppy hotspot. It will work wonders, both at home and on the road.