Check in daily with your teammates, sometimes more than once a day. Be sure you make time to update them on current and future tasks, and connect with them as needed for your sanity. Share gifs and memes and anything else that makes you feel more human and connected to others.
Keep lines of communication open and engage often. You cannot over communicate; it may feel like you are, but keep in mind that your boss and coworkers can no longer read your office body cues (door shut, head down, on the phone, etc.) to know when you're heads down on a project, out to lunch, or collaborating with partners. Let everyone know you’re in a meeting or deep in a task by setting a status in your preferred chat tool (we love Slack!) so you are free from distractions when you need it, but everyone knows you're still working.
Maintain Daily Rituals
Do everything as if you are getting ready to go to the office. Maintain your normal schedule as much as possible, continue on with morning and evening rituals. Set a start and stop time for the day or you’ll find yourself working 15 hour days without realizing it. Having said that: give yourself and your coworkers some grace in this area -- we are all juggling a new way of working and many have had to adjust their schedules to coordinate child care and other non-work responsibilities.
Create Your Own Space
Set up a workspace just for you, to separate home life and work life. If you’re easily distracted by all the things there are to do around the house (even when it’s all done, we tend to always find more...dishes, laundry, that window you’ve been meaning to clean), you won’t be very productive. Some people find wearing noise-canceling headphones to be helpful or listening to calming music, while others need to have a visually clean and separate physical space. Be sure you have the proper software and hardware at home to accomplish tasks you will be working on; if you don't, ask your manager for the things you need.
Set Boundaries With Others
While everyone understands an interruption now and then, especially during this difficult adjustment, there are still ways you can let others know in your home office when you can be interrupted and when you need to be left alone to work. An example of this is the STOP/GO method: use a green and a red piece of paper (or whatever you can creatively think of) to hang on your office door/window/whatever you have to let your household members know when they can safely enter or when they need to wait a bit. Green means enter and red means stop and come back later (unless there is a life threatening emergency, the terms of which you've defined in advance). There’s nothing worse than being in a virtual meeting with your boss, client…..and your children are being noisy in the background or your spouse continually pops in and out of view on zoom.
For children: they seem to activate “I need it and I need it now” mode when we need peace and quiet. Set up a play area for them in the office and put out favorite toys, ones you know will entertain, get out the tablet, put on a movie, anything you feel comfortable with as a parent to do just to get you through the meeting or call you need to attend. Keep your microphone on mute when not talking during a meeting and explain it’s mommy/daddy work time, and to please not disturb. Bribes for good behavior during meetings sometimes work well ;) If you can trade off child care with another household member, that is a good strategy as well.
Set Realistic Goals
More so now than ever, employers most likely understand that work routines may be more nontraditional. Deadlines will need to be extended, and you have to learn to be OK with that. If you are unable to get everything done during the workday, you may have to work a bit earlier in the morning or in the evening. In parallel, you may need to set aside time on the weekend to finish tasks you couldn't get to during the week.
Give yourself breaks during the day (as often as needed) to regroup and approach tasks with a clear mind.
Clear Your Mind
Getting fresh air is essential to our mental health. Working remote involves a lot of being inside looking at a screen and not seeing the outside world for sometimes hours/days at a time.
Exercise, take a walk, sit outside, take your laptop out on your porch and work while enjoying the sunshine (but remember to maintain the recommended social distance!). Have virtual lunches and/or happy hours with family, friends, coworkers..etc. Utilize resources being offered online...free yoga classes, virtual museums, free online gyms, free and paid courses to learn new skills or further your own.
Talk With Other Adults
Yes…...OUT LOUD. Sometimes days pass and I realize the only conversations I have had were constantly explaining why this, why that...no don’t do that..let’s do this instead...or talking to my pet...or even the gecko on my fence. You guessed it, NONE of those were with adults haha! We all need interaction that’s not just through a social platform, messaging app, or email, but human-to-human, adult-to-adult.
Get 8 Hours of Sleep
Many, myself included do not get nearly enough sleep. But studies show that getting an adequate amount of sleep can improve concentration, productivity, your immune system, stress levels, and help you retain memory….need I say more? Do everything you can to get ~ 7-8 hours of sleep to improve your overall health. And taking some vitamins might help too!
Created with images by Daria Nepriakhina - "untitled image" • Harry Cunningham - "Instagram: @harry.digital Model: @Sergio_snaps" • Alesia Kazantceva - "Office" • Emma Simpson - "Morning jog in the countryside"