Working from home for the first time due to COVID-19? Pt. 1
COVID-19 has introduced millions of people around the word to the joys—and frustrations—of telecommuting AKA teleworking. With the pandemic looking to last another six months, if not far longer, it’s important to look at teleworking as a long-term commitment rather than a quick fix for a temporary problem. There are many things to consider when working remotely, whether from home, a hotel room, an Internet café, or elsewhere.
Some of the tips below may be old news to you; however, they bear repeating—especially if you’re new to teleworking/telecommuting. Hopefully there will be a few useful tips here that you hadn’t thought of.
This blog series is divided into five parts. Part I talks about setting up a home office for teleworking, Part II offers tips for optimizing your workspace, Part III deals with balancing work and life, Part IV describes online security, and Part V covers physical security, both at home and on the road.
Set up a dedicated work area at home.
A spare bedroom/office with a closable door would be ideal for minimizing distractions.
Regardless of where you work, an actual desk and comfortable office chair would be best. (Some people swear by standing desks; I’ve even seen a combination standing desk/treadmill, if you want to burn off calories or nervous energy.) Personally, I write from a recliner (easier on my back) using a wireless keyboard in my lap. I have a rolling table (similar to the tables used in hospitals that roll up alongside a patient bed and extend over the bed so the patient can eat their meals.) My table holds my laptop, a wireless mouse, and an ultrawide hi-res monitor.
If a dedicated office is not an option and you’re forced to work from the kitchen table or a coffee table in the living room, that’s doable as well. However, you’ll have to find ways to reduce distractions.:
If you have young children and pets, try to have someone keep them in another part of the house (or outside) and entertained during your working hours.
Load, unload, and run the dishwasher and washer/dryer only during nonworking hours.
Having a radio or earbuds playing music softly, or wearing noise-canceling headphones, can help block or at least partially muffle distracting noises. I find music with lyrics somewhat distracting when I’m writing. I prefer soft jazz, classical, or other melody-only music. I avoid listening to the radio, with DJs and commercials--again, because they distract me.
Resist the temptation to mow the lawn, go grocery shopping, or do other tasks you would normally do in nonworking hours. Remember, working hours are for work.
Some people find that dressing in their typical business clothes—rather than a bathrobe and slippers—puts them in a work frame of mind and helps them better focus on the job.
Make sure you get up and move about for at least a few minutes every hour or two. Too much sitting in one place can result in a stiff neck and back or even DVT (deep vein thrombosis), a serious and even fatal medical condition.
Stay tuned for Part II, which offers tips for making the most of your workspace.