How to Make Working from Home Work for You

To maintain safe social distancing and stay well during the current global health crisis, millions of Americans face the challenge of working from home for an indefinite period of time. However, working remotely while living with family or roommates can pose many challenges. While you may enjoy the benefit of not having a daily commute, it may be more difficult to create healthy boundaries between your work life and home life.

Here are some general tips to help stay focused, set realistic expectations and preserve good mental health while working remotely:

1. Get the proper technology.

Having the right technology is a key ingredient to working successfully from home. Your remote workspace should have a laptop or PC equipped with all the necessary software and applications to get the job done. For example, many remote workers rely heavily on applications such as Zoom, Skype or GoToMeeting to participate in virtual meetings. Be sure to collaborate with your employer on gaining accessibility to adequate Wi-Fi, internet service and a Webcam to stay connected.

2. Have a separate workspace.

While you may not have a separate home office, it is important to designate a space where you can work without interruption. In a small living space, this may involve setting up a desk in the corner of the living room or a computer at the end of the kitchen table. Ideally, your workspace should be located in an area where you do not go to relax, so avoid areas such as a bedroom or living room sofa. Also, to help you stay productive, be sure the other members of your household know where you have established a work-only zone.

3. Establish a daily routine, including work hours.

Having a daily routine while working at home helps you stay productive, as well as keep normal working hours. Waking up, getting dressed and starting work at the same time each morning adds needed structure to your day. To keep a sense of routine and productivity, change out of your pajamas and into something appropriate for a casual meeting. Also, be sure to designate times to stretch, take a coffee break, get air and have lunch. It is just as important to find time for rest and exercise as it is to establish time for projects and video chats. The other members of your household will appreciate knowing your work schedule and when you are free to spend quality time with them.

4. Be realistic about household chores.

If you plan to complete chores while working from home, be realistic about what is possible to get done. For example, taking out the garbage, emptying the dishwasher or checking the mail may help you escape your desk for a quick break. However, reorganizing the closet, cleaning out the garage or tackling a mountain of laundry are not realistic tasks to achieve during the work day.

5. Align expectations with your coworkers.

If you have young children or pets at home, be honest with your coworkers about how that may affect your workday and communication. For example, at the beginning of a call, it is fine to tell people they may hear a baby crying or a dog barking in the background. If you have a confined workspace and crowded home, it may be best to replace business calls with emails whenever possible. It is equally important to set clear boundaries with other members of your household about what you need to manage your day. For example, let your children and loved ones know when you need a quiet place or time to take business calls or draft a complex report.

While what works best may vary from person to person, these are a few ways you can work productively at home for an extended period of time, while enjoying the comfort of your own home. Over time, you will discover what techniques work best to protect your physical, mental and emotional health. If you encounter unexpected obstacles, be sure to communicate these with your employer so you can obtain additional assistance and resources.

Pacific Federal is a subsidiary of Zenith American Solutions.