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Tips for working from home during COVID-19

Whether you’re new to working from home or a seasoned pro, a good routine, a smart workspace setup and healthy boundaries can make working from home smoother and more productive. Try these tips from Piedmont Employee Wellbeing wellness coordinators Chris Moore, EP-C, EIM2, CMFFD, and Lauren Seale, M.Ed., CHES.

Create a daily routine

A morning routine can help you get in the right mindset for your workday, say Moore and Seale. Try to get up at the same time each day, shower, get dressed, eat a healthy breakfast and start working on your most important task first.

I’ve found maintaining my regular workday morning routine while remote puts me in the right state of mind,” says Moore.

Maximize your workspace

Whether you have a home office or a corner of the kitchen table, it’s important to have a designated workspace, so you have a separation between your “living” and “work” areas.

Your workspace should also be as private as possible. If you don’t have a room with a door, consider working in an area of the home that gets the least foot traffic.

Good ergonomics are also essential to reducing neck, shoulder, back and wrist pain. Check out these tips to ensure your desk doesn’t become a pain in the neck.

“Ultimately, I think the space should be comfortable and convenient,” says Moore. “The moment you are uncomfortable or inconvenienced because of noise, temperature, hunger or the inability to find a pen or your laptop charger, you’re setting yourself up for a poor experience working from home.”

Take regular breaks

Getting away from your work area to stretch, take a walk, get fresh air or eat lunch can help you recharge and be more productive.

“Locking yourself in a room with your eyes glued to a monitor leads to burnout fast,” says Moore. “Much like a regular workday, you have those little breaks or welcomed distractions like stopping to chat with co-workers. Working from home, you now have to make the concerted effort to step away from work for a moment and recharge. I like to step outside to get some sun and fresh air or sit with my son for a moment. Afterward, I’m back to work feeling more refreshed and motivated to get back to work.”

Communicate regularly

A successful remote working experience requires frequent communication and clear expectations. Ask your manager how often he or she would like you to check in. While you don’t need to check your email or phone every five minutes, do your best to return emails or phone calls promptly during the workday.

Communication is very important and that much more important when you aren’t around your team often,” says Moore. “I think the level and means of contact depend on what is best for the team. For example, a large, collaborative project may demand more frequent connections, while smaller, solo projects don’t. Connecting with your team, especially your supervisor, should be done with some regularity to offer support and ensure what you’re doing aligns with the overall vision for the team.”

Maintain connections

While it’s essential to practice social distancing right now, you can still connect with colleagues through video chat, text, email and phone calls. Do your best to keep conversations positive since most people are feeling stress and uncertainty these days.

Set healthy boundaries

When you work from home, the lines between your personal life and work life can blur. Do your best to stay focused on work during your work hours and then unplug during your “off” hours to spend time with your family, rest and recharge.

“It’s easy to forget what day it is, so I find it helpful to make a schedule for the kids during the school week,” says Seale. “If I have commitments or meetings throughout the day, I try to arrange their schedule to match those commitments. Then, the weekend is our time for fun and relaxation.”

Working from home with kids

If you are working from home with kids, try these tips:

  • Communicate your expectations. Let your older kids know when you need uninterrupted work time. If possible, close your door or ask them to read or watch TV in another room.

  • Trade childcare duties with your partner. If you have very young children, you and your partner could consider trading childcare duties. One of you could work from 6 a.m. to noon and the other from noon to 6 p.m.

  • Squeeze in work when you can. You could schedule important calls during naptime and then log some additional work time after your child goes to bed.

  • Use screen time strategically. The more your children consume video games, TV and movies, the more difficult it can be to keep them entertained. Consider saving favorite toys, entertainment or activities for times when you need the most peace and quiet, such as during a conference call.

  • Cut yourself some slack. Your kids may get more screen time than you’d like right now and that’s fine. You can return to your normal boundaries when the pandemic is over.

  • Give your children some choices. “It's important to give children choices when you can,” says Seale. “When children have some control over their choices, they feel respected and are often more agreeable. By letting them choose which tasks to complete first each day, they may feel more at ease and less anxious about their assignments. Frequent breaks are also imperative to everyone’s productivity.”

  • Take breaks as a family. “Everyone could have time allotted for work and school projects, but you can all take a break as a family as well,” says Moore. “Again, allowing yourself those breaks helps to recharge your batteries, but also maintain that connection with your kids no matter their age.”

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