Best Practices to Transition to a Home Office

Welcome to the world of nearly universal remote work. Just a few weeks ago, COVID-19 turned the business world completely upside down in a matter of weeks, scattering workers from their offices, cubicles and conference rooms in brick-and-mortar office buildings to using their kitchen tables and ottomans as makeshift desks. Gone, at least for now, are the days of collaborating through in-person meetings and gossiping at the watercooler. Transitioning to your new work environment may be a little jarring at first, but here are a few tips to help you stay motivated and productive:

Establish a Routine for Yourself and Stick with It

Whether we know it or not, we all crave some sort of routine to keep ourselves focused on accomplishing our goals. This is not to say that idle hands immediately become the devil’s plaything, but setting out a loose routine for yourself will help you make the most efficient use of your time. It worked for you as you established a routine going to the office, and it will behoove you to do the same for your home office. 

Resist the urge to sleep in too much, roll out of bed and start working right then and there. Get up at a reasonable hour, eat a nutritious breakfast, maybe try to get in a little exercise, clean yourself up and then begin your workday. Getting yourself into a routine and holding yourself accountable for sticking with it will help you stay productive and engaged.

Set Aside a Dedicated Workspace to Use As a Home Office

For many people, working from home will blur the lines between work and non-work activities. After all, work used to happen primarily–if not entirely–at a workplace outside of and completely separate from everyone’s houses. Now, you can start and stop working practically whenever you want. Suddenly, the physical delineations between your workplace and your home have disappeared. To help yourself adjust, set aside a specific area of your living space for work and use that area as your home office. If you work only in this space, you can still maintain some semblance of physical separation from your job while you work from home.

Make an Effort to Keep in Contact with the Other Members of Your Team

Collaborating on group projects and keeping morale high is undeniably more difficult when you and the other members of your team cannot interact in person. There are still plenty of other ways to stay in contact with them, though. Try setting up occasional video meetings and holding group chats on your organization’s internal instant messaging system. If all else fails, start an informal team email chain. However you need to do it, find a way to communicate with and stay connected to the rest of your team or department. 

Take Regular Breaks from Working If You Need Them

It is easy to lose track of time when you do not have the rhythms typically associated with a standard workday to guide you unconsciously from start to finish. Before you know it, you may have spent several hours sitting in one place trying to complete a task. Try to give yourself regular breaks from working so you can go to a different area of your living space and relax your mind for a few moments. You will go back to your workspace feeling refreshed and ready to tackle whatever comes next. 

A Combination of Exercise and Relaxation

Not leaving your living space for work means you will probably get far less incidental exercise–like, for example, walking from your desk to conference rooms or other common spaces and back, walking up and down stairs in your building or walking to a restaurant to go to lunch with your team–than you did during the average pre-COVID-19 workday. 

It is important to remain healthy and maintain your good habits while you work from home, so make an effort to incorporate exercise, a healthy diet and plenty of water into your routine. Maybe it’s something simple like a 20 minute walk during your lunch break. But it’s advantageous to maximize your movements and get as much vitamin D as you can. 

We also recommend relaxation techniques if you’re feeling any combination of anxiety from changes in work, to financial worries. Breathing techniques can help alleviate stress and calm your heart rate. 

Know When to Call It Quits for the Day

Compartmentalization is one of the keys to a healthy work-life balance, and that is particularly true when you are working exclusively from home. Unless you have a looming, immovable deadline to meet, you should stop working at or around a set time every day. Remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint. Your work will still be there in the morning, so be sure to take time for yourself.

Things are strange right now and time has only proven that we have no idea when things are going to shift again. Use these tips for adjusting to the new normal that is in this moment. With a good headspace, workspace, and taking the time you need to distinguish the two, you’re sure to adjust the best way possible.

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