As more cases of the coronavirus emerge, the CDC has warned that disruption to everyday life could occur in the future. Those exposed to the virus could face quarantine, the CDC has mentioned the possibility of closing workplaces if the virus continues to spread quickly, and traveling and attending events could become difficult. However, working from home is easier than ever with today’s technologies. The difficult part can be remaining productive when changing your work environment. Here are a few tips that can help you stay productive despite the challenges and work environment changes the coronavirus may present.
Set Up a Designated Work Space
If you’re going to be working at home, the first thing to do is set up a designated work space. Creating a physical area for work will help you get into the mindset of actually being ‘in the office’ when you’re in that space. This also allows you to leave work for the day when it’s time to relax and enjoy your family. Even if you have to take over your dining room table, try to avoid turning your bedroom into your work area, since this makes it tough to disconnect when you need to rest.
Along with a separate place to work, ensure your designated work space is set up with all the right tools that you need. If you’re repurposing a desk at home or evening a dining room table, be sure to eliminate clutter and ensure you have plenty of light for working. Think about what you normally have on your desk at work — whether that includes pens, highlighters, sticky notes, or an iPad (in addition to your laptop) — and have those same tools in easy reach at home.
Staying focused on the job at hand often becomes difficult if you need to work at home. It’s easy to turn on the television, answer social media, or get distracted by things that need done around the house. Work at a desk or table facing a window or wall, which should help reduce distraction from items around your home.
If you have small children, then your favorite little people can turn into a distraction when you’re supposed to be working. To improve productivity, you may need to shift your working hours a bit to accommodate the hours your children are around. Instead of pushing through those afterschool hours before bedtime, consider shifting things up and spending time with the kids and then putting in a couple more hours after they’re settled for the night.
Communicate With Your Team
Communication is critical since you won’t be dropping by your colleagues’ desks to have a quick conversation. Start by being honest about your work environment and any changes you’ve had to make because you’re working at home. Discuss solutions that can improve your communication, such as helpful communication methods like Slack or similar tools that keep you connected throughout the day. Take time to contact team members throughout the day to check in so you stay in touch with what’s going on, and this will encourage them to discuss with you any challenges or projects they’re dealing with in the office.
You probably already use technology at work for virtual meetings and collaboration, and it’s the perfect way to stay connected and attend meetings if you’re unable to meet with people face-to-face or attend events in person. Zoom is a tool that offers video meetings, making it easy to meet with people virtually.
Other great technology tools that improve communication, project management and help you virtually meet and collaborate include:
- Go to Meeting
Of course, while technology is advanced and offers some great tools, sometimes it’s just great to pick up the phone. Know when to skip the tools and simply call someone on your team or a client when it offers the best way to provide insight or get clarity.
Just remember, you may need to upgrade your internet speeds. Your home internet may lag when you begin using conferencing software like Zoom, and freezing video mid-meeting is frustrating for everyone. Check your internet speed and consider upgrading for the time you’ll be working at home to make sure you can make the most of the technology available to you.
Feeling Isolated? Use Your Online Network
Being stuck at home can easily leave you feeling isolated. This is the perfect time to use that online network you’ve built. Beyond chatting with colleagues, take the time to check in with other people in your network who might refresh your creativity. Message friends or family members when you need some human contact. Even though you’re at home, you can still reach out and interact with others to combat feelings of isolation that can hinder productivity.
While you can’t do anything about coronavirus – beyond the always important proper handwashing protocol – you can be prepared to stay productive from home if you’re quarantined or you’re unable to make big events. Follow these steps to turn your home environment into a work space that will keep you productive until you’re able to get back in the office.