Working From Home (Before and After Coronavirus)

Working from home may be your everyday routine or a new adjustment in the wake of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Whether you're making the best of your "new normal" or need to hit "refresh" on your home office space, we have great suggestions for your workspace. 

EVALUATE YOUR WORKSPACE

To do your job effectively, you need to have the right tools and resources. This usually means having:  

An established work spaceMake sure that you have dedicated space that’s “yours” to work in. It can help you psychologically if that space is solely devoted to work; after a few weeks, you’ll instinctively know it’s time to lock down as soon as you sit down. 

Equipment: For most, essential equipment consists of a workspace (desk), computer, mouse, and webcam (make sure your webcam is turned off by default) to perform our job duties. If your job requires you to look at multiple screens at a time and the company only provided a laptop, an investment can include a second monitor, which you can buy refurbished (for a discounted price) or new. Make sure your laptop and the monitor has an HDMI port and you will need an HDMI cable.  To install two monitors in addition to your laptop requires a docking station.  For those staying at home with children, noise cancelling headphones could help reduce external (and distracting) noise.  

Applications: What applications are essential for your job? Whether you need collaboration (Microsoft Teams), document management (SharePoint), CRM (Salesforce), or another type of application, make sure you can access it from home. 

Internet ConnectionIf your internet connectivity is spotty (strong in certain spots, weak in others), a mesh router can help. Google has the Google WIFI, which according to Google, “is a home mesh Wi-Fi system that replaces your traditional router and provides seamless, reliable Wi-Fi coverage throughout your home.” You’ll still need a service provider and a modem, however.  If you continue to have spotty connection, try to connect your computer to the router with an ethernet cable.   Also, eliminate unnecessary internet traffic during work hours (video streaming, online gaming, etc.).  If you need backup internet: no internet, no problem! You can turn to your smartphone’s hot spot feature, which will create a small WIFI network. However, a phone hotspot will not support the bandwidth needs of a call center agent.  Make sure to track your data consumption with using the Hotspot feature. Negotiate internet time (if your spouse/children also need to use the internet). 

COMMUNICATION IS KEY

Keep lines of communication open with your manager as well as your teammates. Communicate priorities, as well as expectations with each other to ensure everyone is on the same page and business objectives and timelines are still being met.  

Essential questions include:  

  • How will projects be tracked by the team?  
  • What applications will be used for collaboration? 
  • What do communication norms look like? 
  • What is your team doing to boost morale?  

KEEP ROUTINES CONSISTENT

That means getting up and ready as you normally would’ve done when you were going into the office. Even if you don’t have to teleconference/video chat with anyone, this is a good habit to keep because mentally, it creates a division between home and work and puts you in a professional mindset. Some tips include:  

  • Scheduling your days to create structure 
  • Setting a timer and scheduling your lunch and breaks  
  • Maintain hours.  At the end of your workday, go ‘home’.  Turn off work and go spend time with your family.  Now, more than ever, work / life balance is essential. 
  • Clean Up.  When you focus on your appearance and make a point of “dressing for work,” it signals to your mind that it’s time to concentrate on your daily tasks. 
  • If you have children, lean in on streaming services, puzzles, and games to keep your children entertained. 
  • Set ground rules (if applicable) about your work hours and boundaries with family members. For example, rules around how loud the tv can be, turning off sounds/toys if you’ll be on a call, or respecting your “Do not disturb” sign.   

MENTAL HEALTH IS WEALTH

Not socializing as many are now getting accustomed to due to the pandemic can cause some to experience feelings of isolation, and eventually depression.  

Some tips to fight feelings of isolation include:  

  • Making time for water cooler chat. Check in with each other, share stories, ask how you’re all coping.  
  • Get (virtual) face time: seeing a familiar face is all it might take to feel less isolated and more included. Switch up virtual meetings by including video chat (Webex/Skype) every so often 
  • Astronaut Scott Kelly spent a year in space, where he was forced to be in isolation. One tip he has is to go outside. “One of the things I missed most while living in space was being able to go outside and experience nature. After being confined to a small space for months, I actually started to crave nature — the color green, the smell of fresh dirt, and the feel of warm sun on my face.” 

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

You don’t have to hit the gym to get a workout (plus, even if you could hit the gym, during this pandemic, it probably wouldn’t be recommended). According to the CDC, physical exercise has many benefits, as it: 

  • Lowers risk of high blood pressure 
  • Lowers risk of stroke 
  • Improves aerobic fitness 
  • Improves mental health 
  • Improves cognitive function 
  • Reduces arthritis symptoms 
  • Prevents weight gain 

YouTube channels offer free fitness classes, such as Popsugar Fitness and FitnessBlender, with many classes requiring no equipment-free. 

We’re all in this together. #HCHFamily