Working from home may seem like a dream come true, but it can carry it’s own set of problems and difficulties that our animal brains simply don’t recognize when faced with the prospect of staying in our jammies while working. More and more as time progresses, the possibility of working from home is becoming more of a reality, as most companies and corporations work towards trying to maintain social distancing among their employees and to prevent unnecessary in-person contact.
Until recent years, working from home was a possibility reserved for private business owners, multi-level marketing or “direct” marketing salespeople or for people under special circumstances, such as a physical handicap or a family situation that didn’t allow for work outside the house. But since it’s 2021, and almost every conceivable administrative job hinders mostly on the digital frontier, more people have been staying at home to work since employers have not only been allowing it, it’s been encouraged.
Despite this reality and like everything else in life, working from home includes some good, some bad and some ugly. I’ve read a number of different articles, most of whom have provided the same basic recommendations for working from home. And since I’m too lazy to link almost a dozen different articles into this one post, let’s just go ahead and call the following list “my opinion,” shall we? But based on this reading and some of my own experience, here is my top ten things to remember when working from home:
- Have A Morning Routine: This is a big one, and the most consistent one I’ve found in all my reading. Make a pot of coffee and much down a bagel while checking Facebook? Sure. Have a hot shower and make the bed? Absolutely. Just make sure that you have a dedicated routine that starts your day. Doing this programs your brain to understand that the day is starting and will help to shake of the vestiges of at-home fatigue;
- Maintain A Fixed Schedule: This is another big one, as many people feel that working from home without supervision makes it easier to spend the morning binge-watching a show and getting to work in the afternoon instead. But doing this will not only affect your productivity and make it harder for you to have any “get up and go” once you DO start work, eventually your boss will likely notice the lack in productivity and you may suddenly find yourself being “that employee” who isn’t keeping up;
- Have A Dedicated Workspace: Yeah, okay… I’ll stop saying it because they’ll ALL be big ones. This is SUPER important because the area you decide to work will be the area you associate with work. My wife was working from home at our kitchen table for the longest time while our infant son grew through his first year and she needed to be on hand as he was nursing. But it was chaotic because the table was always loaded with work materials during meal times. Plus, with two destructive children in the house, there’s always the possibility she’d have some of those materials damaged. Both of us now have a corner of the house that’s dedicated to our respective work. And for the most part, our kids stay clear of it;
- Schedule Breaks And Observe Them: This seems like a redundant point to make. Most people would be inclined to think, “I take breaks during my day…” Maybe, but the question comes in the form of how MANY breaks you take and when. Treat your day as you would if you were at the office. Take a lunch hour (or 30 to 45 minutes, depending on what your company’s policies permit) and take the number of breaks appropriate to maintaining proper health. People tend to forget that remaining in a seated position for hours on end does a whole bunch of bad stuff to the human body. This can include bad posture, spine and back damage, development of chronic pain, not to mention it will affect your metabolism and likely make you go out of your mind from staring at a screen too much, which bring me to my next point;
- Move Your Eyes Away From Your Screen: Since you need to get up from your desk every once and a while anyway, you should be having your eyes focus on something natural that isn’t a screen. Stay off your phone, stay off your tablet and keep your eyes away from any surface in the home that “projects” light. Take a few minutes to look outside and let your eyes adjust and focus on something else. If you feel the need to check emails during your break, then it isn’t a break. Sources vary on how often you should be standing up. One source says ten minutes of standing for every half hour. Another source says fifteen minutes for every hour. That’s the one I usually opt for;
- Continue To Develop Yourself: Sitting at home to work may give you the feeling or impression that “this is it,” as in you won’t be doing anything different than what you currently are for the duration of your remote work. You couldn’t be more wrong. Be sure to get on your supervisor and make your career goals and intentions clear, voice your training wants/needs/expectations. Once that’s on the table and your boss is made aware of what you want, start looking into it. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been online to look up courses, seminars and training. This shows that you have some initiative and if added to a reasonable learning plan that outlines how it would benefit the company, you may even have some of it paid for. And considering the amount of institutions that provide online learning, just about anything is possible, nowadays;
- Be Professional: This likely won’t be a popular opinion with most of my readers and it can be SO easy to attend that scheduled Zoom meeting with no pants on. But you can never be prepared for what MAY happen, so you want to maintain an air of professionalism while you work. Imagine you’re asked about something you need to to go get, so you have to crab-walk your way off the screen in order to avoid your boss and co-workers seeing your polka-dotted Hanes? Getting dressed for work is a definite start. Despite any video meetings you have on the go. This is a bit the same as having a morning routine. Getting yourself dressed and ready for work programs your brain to associate it with working. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like associating my pyjamas to work;
- Be Mindful OF Your Health: This is a pretty straightforward one, but even if you’re sitting at home to do your work, you want to ensure to take proper care of yourself as it relates to a healthy diet, plenty of exercise and paying attention if your physical and/or mental health start to feel like they need a refresher. This brings me to my next two points…;
- Maintain Contact With Your Boss and Coworkers: It can be pretty easy to feel like an army of one on a secluded island when you’re doing all your work from your home office as opposed to an office setting where you can chat, socialize and take breaks WITH coworkers. There’s a lot to be said for that social aspect, as it helps to bind people together towards common goals. So whether it’s Zoom meetings or stepping into the actual workplace on occasion, be sure to keep open lines of communication. It’s definitely not a Nerf gun battle, but it’s better than nothing; and
- Go Outside: One of the things I’ve always had difficulties with is being cooped up in an office environment for 8 straight hours. I’m the type of person who needs to be moving so stepping outside the house a few times a day, whether on breaks or during lunch, will help get you through the slump by getting some fresh air, sunshine and gets you out of the house. If you wake up at home, work all day at home and then go to bed at home, it can start to get a bit overwhelming to be inside the same four walls, 24/7.
There you have it, folks. Hopefully these can help or give advice to anyone who may be working from home for the first time. Some of these are a bit on the subjective side, which is why I’m considering this an opinion piece as opposed to citing a bunch of sources, but a simple Google search will also provide all sorts of tips, suggestions and recommendations for keeping proper care of yourself while staying at home. Further that, it’s important to remember that if you have Diabetes, all of those health factors become aggravated as just about EVERYTHING affects Diabetes and blood sugar levels. So you need to be certain to take proper care of yourself.
Last but not least, working from home doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help and resources when you need them. Even if you happen to be working from the comfort of home, you have every right to be provided what’s needed to do your job properly. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for something if you need it. ☯