In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, companies are asking employees to work from home… indefinitely. And while there are certainly upsides to working from home (“I miss my commute,” said no one ever), this new reality takes some getting used to.
For many, figuring out how to work from home productively can be a downright challenge, hence the influx of “how to work from home” blogs. You’ve probably skimmed one or two (or ten). They’re filled with excellent advice like this:
- Get dressed
- Designate a work space
- Maintain regular work hours
- Schedule regular breaks
- Set clear boundaries with people you live with
The only problem is — they all seem to reiterate the same five-ish tips. Variety is the spice of life, so we decided to poll our team to ask for their best work from home advice. The only caveat? “Give us something that works that we haven’t heard before.”
Here’s what they said.
Don’t just get dressed — put on (clean) shoes, too.
We were surprised to see not one, but two TDR team members put this on their list. It makes sense, though. Many of us are desperately clinging to a sense of normalcy, and you know what’s NOT normal? Going barefoot or socks-only for days on end.
Putting on shoes might also help you get into the right mindset to work, signaling your brain to stop the shenanigans and get down to business.
“I don’t know about everybody else — but I can only go so many days without wearing shoes until I start to go a little crazy. Wearing shoes as I work has helped a lot!” -Jack
Designate a work space… but don’t be afraid to switch it up.
Your average work from home blog will tell you to designate a specific “work space” and “life space” within your home or apartment, and to avoid mixing the two.
This is certainly valid. Entering your makeshift “work space” can help you mentally prepare for the day ahead, while leaving it can help you “turn off” at night. But we’re here to tell you rebels this — don’t be afraid to break the rules every now and then, especially if you’re in a mental rut.
Sometimes, a change of scenery (even if it’s moving your laptop from your kitchen table to your couch) can do wonders for your mental state. It might just be the stimulation your brain needs to power through the rest of the day.
“If you’re feeling stuck, try rotating your work environment. Your brain might appreciate the variety of locations, and you might feel more awake and stimulated throughout the day.” -Nate
Take regular breaks, but make them active.
When you’re stuck at home, a “work break” might look like moving from the kitchen table to the couch… and there you’ll remain, sedentary and sad as you halfheartedly scroll through social media until your break is up. While tempting — more active rest will better rejuvenate your mind and body.
Some of our tips? Get outside on your break. Stretch or take a 15-minute walk around the block. Or, challenge your coworkers to a pushup challenge and commit to ten pushups every hour. The camaraderie will be flowing and your post-quarantine arms will thank you for it.
“I keep a yoga mat next to my desk so that I can take breaks to stretch and squeeze in a few down dogs.” -Kathryn
Keep a positive attitude by appreciating the moments made possible by working from home.
Working from home for two or three days? Marvelous.
Working from home… indefinitely? Undecided…
Working from home looks different across our crew. Some of us are now working in close quarters with spouses, children, roommates, and/or pets, while others are flying solo. And honestly? Some days feel like a drag.
But one tip we have for staying positive and productive is to appreciate those special moments that can only happen when you work from home.
Take these examples from some of our crew:
“I take a few mini breaks each day to talk to my daughter. I don’t really understand what she’s saying (she’s two), but it brightens my day and keeps me motivated.” -Ryan
“Every day, I get to have lunch with my family: my wife and two small daughters.” -Nate
“My dog is now an honorary guest of many internal conference calls! I love being able to spend more time with her.” -Haley
“I love the flexibility of working from home. My favorite thing is to sneak in a quick workout over lunch.” -Caitlin
When it comes down to it, figuring out how to work from home productively and comfortably isn’t easy (if it was, there wouldn’t be so many people writing about it). Expect a process of trial and error and don’t forget to be patient with yourself, your coworkers, and your family. We’re all in this together.