The rapid spread of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and the disease caused by it (COVID-19) from China to countries around the world has forced companies large and small to implement work from home policies. For many employees, it’s their first time working from home, and not everyone is coping with the new work arrangement equally well.
While remote work is known to increase productivity, boost employee morale and job satisfaction, lower attrition rates, and provide a better work-life balance, it’s not without its pitfalls. To help you overcome some of the most common challenges that you may encounter when working from home, we’ve put together this list of the top 7 best coronavirus work from home tips.
1. Set Up a Home Office
Having a dedicated workspace is essential when working from home because it enables you to keep your work and home lives separate. Your home office should be void of distractions and comfortable enough for you to spend eight hours a day working from it.
Most people who have been working from home for some time would agree that it’s best to have a separate room for a home office, but it’s certainly not necessary. If you live in an apartment, you can easily get by with a desk in the corner of your bedroom or dining room. Just make sure to separate your home office from the rest of your home as much as possible.
Of course, having a home office doesn’t prevent you from switching things up and getting things done from the bed or couch when the situation calls for it. You can, for example, sort your email while watching the kids and then move to your home office so that you can compose well-thought-out replies without being interrupted every five seconds.
2. Maintain a Regular Routine
After many years of working in the office, it can feel extremely liberating to finally not having to adhere to a strict schedule. But, sooner or later, most remote workers discover that maintaining a regular routine helps them be productive and get work done on time.
The most important thing is to start work around the same time every day. It doesn’t really matter if you start at 8:00 a.m. sharp or at about 8:30 a.m. as long as you maintain the same schedule from Monday to Friday.
According to Dr. Richard Coleman, a specialist in chronobiology, about 10 percent of the population are extreme owls or extreme early birds. If you count yourself among them, telecommuting gives you the opportunity to create a work routine that fits your personal preferences and enables you to work when your body’s natural stores of energy are at their peak.
3. Stay Connected
Face-to-face meetings are easily taken for granted, especially when managers schedule them way too often. It’s only when employees are asked to practice social distancing and the feeling of isolation sets in when their benefits become apparent.
Fortunately, we live in the 21st century and have at our disposal a broad range of instant messaging and video conferencing apps that make it easier for remote teams to stay connected and discuss complex subjects. They also allow employees to have friendly banter with each other, which is essential for keeping the feeling of loneliness (the second-most reported challenge faced by remote workers) at bay.
When it comes to instant messaging, Slack offers the ability to create dedicated channels to organize conversations by topic, project, or team. Zoom is the current leader in modern enterprise video communications because it lets up to 1,000 people easily participate in video conferences. Companies that rely on Microsoft products should consider Microsoft Teams, which combines persistent workplace chat, video meetings, file storage, and application integration.
4. Schedule Your Tasks and Breaks
You don’t build a house without a blueprint, and you shouldn’t start your day without having a list of all the tasks and goals you want to accomplish. A piece of paper or sticky note works just fine for this purpose, but you can also use a to-do app on your smartphone or a Kanban-style list-making application like Trello. The digital approach to task management has several important benefits, such as making it easy to share tasks with other team members.
In addition to scheduling your tasks, you should also schedule your breaks. Contrary to popular belief, breaks are not something you should avoid. They let you recharge your mind and body so you can maintain your focus and productivity.
Remote workers can spend their breaks just like they would in an office setting, but they also have the opportunity to spend them with their family or by exercising, cooking, watching a short YouTube video, and so on.
5. Use Technology to Your Advantage
We’ve already mentioned several ways technology helps remote workers be more productive, but that was just scratching the surface. There are many useful applications, services, and tools that all employees who have recently started working from home should know about.
To start with, you should take advantage of free cloud storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive. Files stored in the cloud can be accessed from any device, and they can be easily shared with other people. Just make sure to first ask your company for permission before you store sensitive business documents so that you know that there aren’t any compliance issues.
Freelancers swear by time tracking apps, which help them track work hours across projects and avoid procrastination. The most popular free option is Toggl, but there’s also Timely, RescueTime, Clockify, and others.
6. Back Up Your Work
When working from home, you may have to be your own IT support, at least in part. It doesn’t matter if you use a company laptop or your personal device, there’s always a small chance that it decides to crash at the worst time possible. You may also accidentally delete the wrong file or format a USB flash drive with important work-related documents. Last but not least, there’s the danger of coronavirus phishing attacks and malware.
The good news is that lost data can be recovered from a backup, but only if you actually have a backup to recover it from. If you don’t, your only option is a data recovery software application like Disk Drill, which can scan all commonly used storage devices and recover hundreds of file formats from them with a single click.
In addition to its data recovery capabilities, Disk Drill includes free data protection and data backup features, allowing you to protect your data with Recovery Vault or Guaranteed Recovery and create byte-to-byte disk and partition backups for future recovery.
7. Make the Most of Your Time at Home
Regardless of if you’re excited about working from home or you already look forward to returning to your office, you should try to enjoy yourself as much as possible. Schedule lunch dates with your spouse, wake up your kids, take your dog for a walk, or work in your PJs if you feel like it. Just because the world is experiencing the outbreak of a global pandemic, doesn’t mean that you can’t be productive and have fun at the same time.