Learning to Work From Home During the Coronavirus: The New Normal
With the coronavirus causing companies across the world to send people home from work who have never been remote workers before, it takes new strategies to navigate the new normal.
And, with schools closed across the nation, many working parents now find themselves not only trying to get their own job done, but are also caring for (and in some cases even homeschooling) their children during the workday.
Whether you’re a parent of school-aged children or not, though, working from home as a newbie to the practice—perhaps with a spouse or roommate also trying to do so in the next room—comes with its share of challenges.
Below are some strategies to help you navigate the new world of remote work and successfully work from home during the coronavirus pandemic.
This May Not Be Temporary
Predictions differ and its impact on how we work, and where we work, has yet to fully settle. While countless locales across the nation have “shelter in place” orders that require staying at home and practicing social distancing, it’s unknown how long these orders may be needed and if they will be extended.
With that in mind, it’s smart to be proactive and set yourself up for the potential long haul with your work-from-home and (possibly paired with helping kids study from home) plans.
Create New Routines
If you’ve always worked in an office, it can be very disorienting to suddenly find yourself working from home. While before you had a much clearer separation between your personal and professional life—with your office, computer, colleagues, and supplies at the ready in your company digs—being at home makes the work-life distinction much more ambiguous. For one thing, you have domestic distractions all around you, from the minute you wake up to the minute you go to sleep.
Within this non-business setting, you must carve out designated time to work on company projects and reach your deadlines. If you don’t proactively determine your work schedule, it’s easy to find yourself absorbed in household minutia—or if others are working from home with you, constantly pulled off-task into inessential conversations.
Learn to Time Block
To avoid this, use the time blocking method to identify, in advance, predictable daily rhythms and routines that you can count on to get your work done. Time blocking simply means indicating on your calendar, in a smartphone app, or on a piece of paper which hours you will devote to your various to-do items. Since all of your time during this particular period will now be spent working from home, you should time block not only for your work tasks but for your personal ones as well.
For example, if you want to ensure that you have two hours each morning to write a daily report that’s due to your boss before noon, you might time block 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. each morning for this activity. If you’re responsible for homeschooling your kids while their school is closed, block off definitive hours for this as well—including for a class Zoom call with the teacher if one is being held daily—depending on the school’s requirements and your business needs.
Split It Up
Working parents with two spouses now working from home and kids out of school have the added challenge of shoehorning time during the day for both their own work and overseeing their child’s schoolwork. One way to give a breather to yourself as well as your spouse—and ensure that you have the necessary hours available to complete your priority work projects—is to divide up the workday so that each of you has reliable time without childcare responsibilities.
Depending on how much flexibility you have within each of your jobs, that might mean that you take a chunk of hours in the morning for your work while your spouse watches the kids, and then you switch roles in the afternoon. Or, if that’s not feasible due to scheduled calls and deadlines for one or both of you, you might alternate being on “kid duty” every few hours. The point is, by doing a handoff, you each can count on some uninterrupted time to focus on work, without both of you constantly feeling torn between job and family demands.
Working remotely in the new normal of a global pandemic is far from ideal. But if you take some time to familiarize yourself with remote work best practices and prepare yourself to work at home as effectively as possible, you’ll decrease the learning curve and feel better in the process.
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By Robin Madell | April 18, 2020 | Categories: Work Remotely