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working from home

A Round-Up of the Best Advice For Working At Home During Covid-19

By Tanya Svoboda
April 2020

The exponential increase of Covid-19, and the protective mandates for social distancing and sheltering-in-place that go along with it, have had an unprecedented impact on our daily lives. A great number of Americans are now working from home, many doing so while simultaneously managing their children’s e-learning schedules.

Turning your home into your workplace or adapting your existing work-from-home space to accommodate family members is no easy task. We did some of the work for you by reading the many work-at-home articles being published and hand picking the best advice from each of them.

Create a Routine

The day to day stress of living through a pandemic makes many of us want to stay in our comfies or pajamas all day. However, if you’re trying to stay productive it’s important to give your favorite sweatpants some time off.

Darren Menabney says in his Forbes article, “You don’t need to go formal, but dressing like you do at work, even a little, will remind you that you’re in work-mode now.” Getting yourself dressed is the first step to developing a productive routine. Keeping a similar schedule to the one you kept at work is also a great way to keep yourself on track. Come 3:00 PM, when the afternoon “sleepies” kick in and your couch starts beckoning you from the other room, knowing you have a scheduled video conference at 3:30 PM should be enough motivation to stay vertical.

Define Your Space

Think about how you work and create an environment that best suits that style. In an article written for Forbes, Bryan Robinson suggests creating distinct psychological and physical boundaries. Will that open box of Girl Scout cookies on the counter lure you away from your desk and into the kitchen? Move them out of sight. Do your husband and kids lose their ability to complete simple tasks if you’re within earshot? Create a physically contained workspace with a closed-door or partition. If your home’s layout doesn’t allow that, set strict rules about what you can and cannot be interrupted for. Is someone bleeding? Interrupt. Can’t find the butter? Don’t even think about it.

Set The Mood

What mood you choose to set is up to you, that’s the beauty of working from home. Without having to worry about disturbing your cubicle neighbor, you’re free to blast your favorite 80’s hairband, Kool and the Gang or Indie Rock – whatever keeps you on track and motivated.

Although, in his Forbes article, Robinson notes, “Studies show that a delicate blend of soft music combined with soothing nature sounds—such as waterfalls, raindrops, a rushing brook or ocean waves—activates the calming part of your brain, helps you concentrate and lowers heart rate and blood pressure.” And if working from home means dealing with passing trains, a barking dog, a loud typing work-from-home spouse, or all of the above, consider investing in a good pair of earbuds or noise-canceling headphones.

Fine Tune Your Communication Skills

In his article for The Ladders, an executive placement website, Steve Adcock says, “If you don’t get good at communicating over the internet, you will leave a path of confusion and frustration.” A good rule of thumb for communicating with email is to over explain since body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice aren’t there to clear up meaning and subtext.

The article How Remote Work Is Quietly Remaking Our Lives suggests using video conferencing software like Zoom or workplace communication software like Slack, to help avoid awkward misunderstandings.

Take Breaks

Even though various studies have shown worker output increases when working from home, it can still feel like your slacking off every time you move away from your computer or workspace. But as Andrea Wurzburger notes in her article for People you can, “ease your own anxiety by fielding requests as they come, but also by being super clear about when you’re going to step out for a coffee or take a 22-minute break to watch an episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine to clear your head before diving into another task.” And by all means, get outside. Just be mindful of social distancing protocol. What everyone seems to agree on is setting a definitive time to clock out and sticking to it. Turn off your computer, shut the door, and help yourself to those Girl Scout cookies.

You bought your home because it fits the way you live. With a few adjustments, it can also fit the way you work.

Visit our COVID-19 Page for the latest news and information from Home Ownership Matters on COVID-19 and its impact on homeowners, housing and communities across the country.

Guidelines and protocol surrounding COVID-19 are changing quickly. For the most up-to-date information we recommend visiting the CDCWHO, and your local health department websites.


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