Working from Home Now? 5 Tips to Help You Succeed

Make sure your "extra" colleagues at home understand when it's appropriate to interrupt and when it's not. My 6-year-old daughter leaves notes outside my office that I can check when I have time. ( Jennifer Shike )

It’s daunting. You’ve worked for 15 years in an office surrounded by colleagues and now you’ve been told to work from home in an effort to adopt social distancing and minimize the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). So, where do you start?

Although some people may be secretly excited for a break in this fast-paced world and are looking forward to spending less time commuting, others may be concerned about their new work environment.

Working from home presents its own unique challenges and opportunities. Here are five tips to help you succeed in your new “space.”

1.    Set expectations and communicate.
Communicate with your employer and co-workers about how and when work will be completed. Set deadlines and determine how feedback will take place, advises Maggie Malson, a freelance communicator from Parma, Idaho. Use video-conferencing options to engage with your colleagues. The digital face-to-face conversation may be the boost you need.

2.    Don’t wear your pajamas all day.
Jon Acuff, author of the Wall Street Journal No. 1 Bestseller, Finish, tweeted some free advice. “Start the day with a shower and then dress like you normally would for work. I love pajama pants too, but they’re a breeding ground for depression,” Acuff said on Twitter. “Flannel feels like failure by day 3.”


3.    Maintain regular hours.
Set a schedule and stick to it, most of the time, advises Jill Duffy in PC Magazine. She says it’s important to have clear guidelines for when to work and when to call it a day. Achieving a work-life balance is important, especially in stressful times.

4.    Set a timer.
Malson says using a timer can help with distractions, especially if you are just getting started working from home. “Close out all distractions and work until the timer goes off. Or use a timer to give yourself breaks during the workday to allow for downtime.”

5.    Set ground rules with your new “colleagues.”
Devise a system so your family at home understands your workday, from quiet times needed for critical phone calls or meetings to more flexible times when they can pop in to ask questions. Communicate about what they can and can’t do during these times. Find ways to minimize disruptions so work time remains work time. 

Perhaps the most important part of having a good transition to working from home is to make it personal, Duffy advises. Simply put, figure out what works best for you. Others may be able to provide tips and inspiration, but at the end of the day you need to determine what helps you reach your goals best. Working from home has its challenges for sure, but it also has its perks.

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