The world has been flipped upside down and we’re all here to watch. With music venues and museums shutting down and opting to stream online, international travel coming to a halt, and people being asked to stay indoors for the sake of their and everyone’s health, it seems more and more like life as we knew it doesn’t exist anymore.
The same can be said for your work life. Since most companies have been forced to shut their doors while the pandemic passes, employees from all walks of life – reporters, artists, lawyers, and writers, to name a few – have been relegated to their apartments to try and muster up the courage to get sh*t done in the midst of the chaos.
But how, exactly, can they do that? What once seemed like a safe space, free from office-related drama and unticked to-do lists, has become just that. The lines have blurred. How on earth are you going to manage all the stress, on top of what’s going on outside? Great news! It’s easier than you think.
Did you suddenly find yourself having to balance Zoom meetings, two roommates, a pet, and an endless array of distractions? Here are four expert ways to stay productive while working from home.
TIP 1: Find a quiet place to concentrate
The first thing you need to do is scour your house for a comfortable and quiet place to set up shop while working from home. Whether that’s the dining room table, the couch, or your kitchen counter- it’s up to you! Hopefully, it’s somewhere presentable in case you have to show up to a Zoom meeting, but the only thing that matters, in the end, is that the chosen space is yours and that you feel happy there. Try and find a home office spot with a comfortable seat and – if you can – pick somewhere with good, natural lighting that will keep you feeling lively. Once you’ve found your spot, adapt it as much as you can to suit your working needs. Whether it’s taping a calendar to the table or the wall so you stay up to date with important assignments and meetings or keeping your headphones handy in case of any last-minute calls or much-needed music motivation – the possibilities are endless!
However, you must never (and I cannot stress this enough), ever work from bed. Never. I know it seems tempting, I know you’re overwhelmed, I know the covers are warm and it’s your happy place, but that’s exactly why you shouldn’t do it. Don’t mix business and pleasure while working from home, kids. Once you start working from bed, the line between rest and “get-it-done” will have disappeared completely, and it will throw your brain into overdrive having to discern between the two when you’re curling up with a good book.
If you’re lucky, try to choose a room inside the house that isn’t a hotspot for social activity for working from home. Say, if your roommates love chilling in the living room, it’s probably best to scratch that off as a possible work spot. You’re all stuck inside, after all, and the rules of the game (i.e. living together in harmony) can’t suddenly change because you need them to. Which brings me to…
TIP 2: Make arrangements with your roommates
Living with someone, or multiple “someones”, is already hard enough. Now, throw in spending 24/7 inside the house, a group of people trying to get their job done, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Another one of my tips for working remotely, and also the first thing you need to do before setting up a home office around the house, is to have a sit-down chat with your roommates – or family – and talk about some basic working day ground rules. Is the guest room off-limits from 9 am to 12 pm while you have meetings? Let them know. Is there a “no music” rule in place? Does the TV have to be off until a certain time? Who’s in charge of the chores for the day? What about cooking? There are so many little details that need to be openly discussed in order to avoid an argument later on. Set aside an hour, or two, or three, to discuss basic rules with everyone and you’ll be much better off than if you decide to continuously tip-toe around the people you live with.
TIP 3: Set deadlines for yourself
Much like those uncrossed office to-do lists, it’s important to set deadlines for yourself while working from home. The world might seem like it’s on hold at the moment, and those deadlines might seem insignificant for now, but once we all get back into life (because we will, and we’ll be stronger than ever for it) all the little things you forgot to do during lockdown will look even more menacing than before.
Create a schedule you can stick to and make it your bible. While waking up at 6 am for a workout seems implausible, getting up at 9 am to make breakfast doesn’t seem all that bad. Choose a routine you can actually accomplish and cross items off every day when you’ve finished a task. It can be something as simple as “touch base with the team” or as big as “finish proposal due this week”. What matters most is that you’re out there doing it, despite the stress and the anxiety.
TIP 4: Take a break from all the screens
Sometimes the best way to get your work done is by stepping away from it.
We’re all experiencing trying times, and our minds have kicked into survival mode, making it difficult to concentrate on the menial things. When all this starts to happen, the only wise thing to do is to step away from the noise and take a breather. A few breathing exercises, a peek out the window, a short stroll around the block…all these are quick and easy escapes that will clear your mind and hit the reset button. The great thing about remote work is that you’re allowed to do that without fear of looking like a slacker. While taking a coffee break working from an office might have seemed like a no-no, taking a yoga break while working from home online is up there with the things you should be doing, especially at a time like this.
The future of remote work…
With all the negative news coming from outside, I personally believe that there’s a silver lining to what has happened, especially in terms of remote work and digital nomadism.
With so many offices shutting down worldwide, a lot of local and international companies have taken to the idea of having their employees work from home. What once seemed like a crazy idea – “Let them do WHAT?!” – has become the norm for most people, and it’s creating a noticeable change in how businesses operate, how employees work, and how team management doesn’t necessarily require someone constantly peeking over your shoulder.
Out of the many benefits of working from home, those that stand out the most are employee well-being and happiness and overall team productivity. While working from home, people have the chance to spend more time with their family (which tends to bring a greater sense of joy), exercise regularly (because they’re not constricted by working hours), enjoy healthier meals (because they have the opportunity to cook more), and stick to hobbies they enjoy (because they can take breaks without the fear of being told off). It’s also extremely cost-effective for the employer: it would save companies thousands – if not millions – in rent, utilities, and office equipment.
A rise in remote work has also led to the creation of specially designed coworking spaces all around the globe and when it comes to this, Selina’s been leading the pack. With state of the art coworking spaces dotted around the globe – from sunny Antigua to artsy Porto – they’ve created the perfect ecosystem for digital nomads who believe that a work-play balance comes hand in hand with productivity and creativity. Built around the idea of community and shared ideals, Selina’s locations all over the world prove that life on the road – one that involves working, connecting, wellness and learning – is absolutely essential and possible
These unprecedented times, then, are here to show more company leaders that a team of remote workers is not just a real possibility but, at the same time, a more effective and happy one. Don’t be surprised if, after this is all over, companies become more lenient to the idea of allowing employees to choose where they work from. Who knows, you might be part of a new generation of digital nomads about to hit the road.
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