The COVID-19 outbreak saw the global economy grind to a sudden halt as lockdowns were imposed to contain the spread of the disease.
Those who suffered the most from these drastic quarantine measures were people who found themselves without jobs and those who were homebound, made to work from home and away from resources in the office.
At present, with the pandemic still far from over, people in WFH situations should learn to adapt to this “new normal”, especially with many companies either making a full switch to WFH or adopting a hybrid set-up (wherein employees work mornings in the office and then later in the day at home).
Whether you are an employee now on WFH status or you are thinking of going into WFH freelancing, here are some tips on how to make work from home work for you.
1) Determine your ideal schedule and stick with it.
For office workers, the regular hours of 9 to 5 are the most ideal to them.
Those who are just starting out on WFH can choose skeds when they are the most alert and most likely to have greater focus and concentration on work.
For example, some individuals may prefer the evening or graveyard shifts, not only because of the peace and quiet of their surroundings, but also because of the faster Internet speeds.
2) Designate an office space in your home
Allot a room or a spot in your home as an office space. The best locations should have zero to minimal traffic from family members, visitors, or pets, so you won’t get disturbed.
Get a sturdy desk with drawers and cabinets you can lock, especially if you will be handling confidential documents. Invest in an ergonomic chair so you can sit in comfort while working.
Make sure that you ask your manager or employer about the specific equipment you will need.
If it is within budget, you can purchase a laptop for work and a desktop for your and your family’s personal use.
If this is not feasible, make sure that all your work documents are locked under a secure password. Don’t forget to ask about the software and apps you will need.
Among the most commonly used are MS Office, Google Drive, Zoom, and Slack. Subscribe to an Internet service provider that offers fast wired and WiFi connections.
3) Maintain open communication lines with both employers and co-workers
Although bi-weekly or weekly meetings may be scheduled by your office, always keep communication lines open with your bosses and co-workers.
If you have questions or are facing difficulties in the tasks assigned to you, do not hesitate to inquire with your boss and get additional instruction/advice.
Always coordinate with your fellow remote team members on their progress and make personal adjustments in your output in order to meet project demands and goals.
4) Ensure data and system security
Most companies will provide you with a user ID and password in order for you to access their servers and networks.
In the absence of such security protocols, you can opt to subscribe to a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Ask your employer for VPNs they can recommend.
Do not use flash drives/USB sticks or portable hard drives to store confidential and sensitive information.
When working at your desk, never enter your user IDs and passwords while in the presence of other family members especially children who might remember these key data and unwittingly use it to get access to confidential data.
5) Lay out the ground rules for family members
The problem with WFH and family is that your spouse and kids think that, because you’re at home all the time, you can do all the household chores, especially if you have been doing them after work and during weekends.
Lay out strict ground rules for family members.
This would include not entering your workplace or touching your computer and other work equipment.
They are also not to disturb you during your designated work hours. Stress that you need peace and quiet during these times in order to focus on work.
Have a family meeting on household chores. Work out a schedule or an equitable distribution of household labor among your family members.
6) Take scheduled breaks
Regular office breaks are the one-hour lunch break and the 10 am and 3 pm 15-minute coffee breaks.
However, with WFH, you can adjust these times based on your schedule. Make it a point to take these standard breaks in their entirety so that your body and mind will be relaxed and refreshed.
In addition to these standard breaks, you should also take “micro-breaks”.
Being sedentary is not good, especially for your cardiovascular system.
So, stand up and walk around for a minute or two every hour to get your blood circulating. To de-stress and relax your eyes from the glare of the computer screen, take your eyes off the screen and gaze at a distant object for 10 to 20 seconds.
7) Establish a morning and after work routine
Having morning and after work rituals make it easier for you to get into the work grind and then unwind after a day’s work, respectively.
Start your day with a morning routine, which may include a morning run or jog, shower, and a hot breakfast and cup of coffee. These activities help to give you a jumpstart on your day.
After work, shut off your computer, smartphones, and all other devices used for work.
Start by doing simple stretching exercises to loosen stiff muscles and joints from sitting all day.
After a refreshing shower and a healthy dinner with the family, you can do mindfulness exercises, such meditation and yoga. You can also go on an invigorating evening walk with your dog or cat.
8) Be more active during video conferences
For some reason, video conferences and meetings with bosses and co-workers seem to be less stressful and intimidating than when done in-person in a conference room.
Take these opportunities to be more active and articulate during discussions.
Make it a point to attend every meeting on time. Always dress professionally for every meeting.
If it is your first meeting or every time there is a new participant, introduce yourself and greet everyone in the chatroom. Share your thoughts and opinions, while making sure that your voice is heard clearly over the mic.
Always be polite. Never interrupt when someone is speaking. Always conclude with a kind word and a goodbye before shutting off the connection.
9) Always be on the look out for learning and training opportunities
Some companies may provide opportunities to their employees to learn new skills. You can also check for online courses available that are relevant to your career.
Make it a point to take advantage of company-sponsored courses, webinars, and training sessions that will help you improve in pertinent skills, such as programming, software, soft skills (like time management, decision-making, communication, etc.) and financial/budget management, just to name a few.
10) Establish a health routine
Office workers frequently complain that exhaustion from work is the reason why they don’t observe a healthy lifestyle. They either say that they are getting enough exercise in the office as they work or they are too tired to hit the gym on weekends.
With WFH though, there is no excuse not to make that healthy lifestyle switch.
Start by learning to cook healthy dishes and snacks for you and your family. You can begin replacing those chips and cookies you nibble on with celery sticks and salads when you work.
Enroll in gym, aerobic or yoga classes after work or every Fridays. If this is beyond your budget, you can check out exercise streaming sites on YouTube. Take note that an hour or two of walking and running around the neighborhood is good exercise for you.
Because you have greater control over your schedule with a WFH scenario, make sure that you observe regular sleep of six to eight hour every night.
11) Look for other work opportunities
Anyone who has been WFH can tell you that you can find other work opportunities through job sites and forums. Such jobs can help you to develop skills outside your present career and which you can use at your work later on.
Some individuals may already be dissatisfied with the job. WFH allows you to explore other more lucrative and less stressful work opportunities, so that you can switch careers.
These are the simple ways by which you can make work from home (WFH) work for you. Just follow our tips in order to make an easy and stress-free transition to WFH.
If you’re looking for other resources on working from home, be sure to check out our Complete Guide To Working From Home to get you started!