The WHO has declared the coronavirus (COVID-19) a global pandemic, and here in our country, we are seeing massive shifts in daily life to accommodate and encourage social distancing. Schools are closed. Cultural and entertainment venues are shuttered. Conferences and large meetings have been postponed or cancelled. The staff at many companies are now working from home. Those who don’t typically work from home on a consistent basis will be charting new territory. In some cases, they are not only dealing with their own transition to this different mode of working but also have children and other family members navigating a new routine. So, what do you do if you’re suddenly forced to work from home? This NYC Professional Office Organizer shares some key strategies.
You must have a designated workspace
This is especially important if you don’t typically work from home and now must carve out a workspace. A designated workspace is not only vital for organization, but it also will help you stay focused and stay productive. By setting it up, your computer and key supplies will be at your fingertips when it’s time to “go to” work. Your new “office” may now be an unused guest room or a corner of your bedroom. With small spaces like an apartment, this may not be possible. Try using a cart as your mobile desk. You can consolidate all work-related items on the cart, pull it out in the morning and stash it in a corner when you aren’t working.
Stay in touch virtually
When working from home, it’s that much more important to stay connected. Move all of your regular meetings to Zoom meetings (these can be done with video or just audio). For quick updates and connection, try using Slack with your team, or download Voxer to your phone, a walkie-talkie like app where you can leave voice notes. It’s important to remember how vital information is during these types of situations, so keep your (virtual) door always open and welcome questions from your staff.
Assess your tech needs
If your company is already utilizing cloud sharing software that is easily accessible from home, like Google Docs or Office 365, then all you need to do is make sure you have access. In other cases, your company may have specific technological needs that require industry-specific software that won’t be quite so easily available so some planning will be required. Programs like Photoshop or AutoCad, for example. Also, your home computer or laptop is probably not set up in the same way as your work computer. Make sure you can sign into any accounts you may need, clean up your desktop, and make sure you can access your most popular shortcuts. As there is much sensitivity around computer usage, be sure to follow the guidance and direction of your company’s IT experts.
Stick with your routine
Just because you’re not commuting and going into an office doesn’t mean you should skip your weekday morning routine. Wake up at your normal time, exercise, shower, and get dressed in real clothes (not pajamas!). It may sound trivial, but this helps you mentally prepare for the day ahead and get into the “I’m going to work” mindset. It’s also helpful to follow a set schedule. If your typical work hours are nine-to-five, stick with this. Take breaks for coffee, lunch and to re-energize. Following your regular work routine will help with maintaining work-life balance. At times like these, this is important as you may find yourself getting easily stressed out.
Set boundaries and expectations
Many are balancing working from home…possibly for the first time ever, having their children home as schools are closing and trying to limit their exposure to the coronavirus. Creating a daily schedule for all family members detailing work hours, activities and family time is an essential component for setting boundaries. Having and maintaining a daily to-do list with clearly defined priorities will keep you focused. Sitting down with your children and setting boundaries for while you are working will be key. With the additional activities in your household, you may want to consider noise cancelling headphones to minimize the distractions.
The most important advice? Stay calm! There’s a lot of uncertainty right now, but it’s important not to panic. Not only is stress bad for your immune system, but it’s also not great for business. Stay in touch with your team and your clients. Continue to practice social distancing, wash your hands, and take care of yourself. We will get through this together.
For more support in working from home, reach out to this NYC Professional Office Organizer.