Like many companies, the University of Miami shifted their teams to work from home last month with the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Now with no more commute and very little physical separation from work and home, we are all adjusting and discovering a new form of work for many of us, telecommuting.
Telecommuting presents a unique set of challenges, especially for those who have never done it before or who don’t know how long it will last. Here are six strategies on how to keep healthy habits and productivity in check while working remotely.
Set and Stick with a Routine. Establish a schedule as if you were actually going into work. Set your alarm, eat breakfast, take a shower, and get dressed. Do your best to treat the day like any other day at the office, minus the office.
Have a Dedicated Workspace. If possible, find a space in your home that is designated to work. Determine regular working hours and factor in breaks and mealtimes (try your best to not eat at your desk). Help others that are at home with you by sharing your schedule and notifying them of times you have video calls or cannot be interrupted; especially if your dedicated workspace is in a common area of the home.
Office Ergonomics. Arrange a healthy workspace. Your eyes should be level with the top of the screen (oversize monitors are exceptions). The center should be 15 degrees below your line of sight and approximately an arm’s length away. Next posture, check in often throughout the day to make sure your shoulders aren’t creeping toward your ears and you are keeping your wrists straight and fingers relaxed.
Set Goals. Write out a daily and weekly to-do list. Order the list based on priority or the nearest deadline. Revisit your to-do list when you are feeling less than productive or when returning from a break.
Add some Movement to your Day. It can be tempting to work for hours at a time without taking a break but it’s important to get up and walk around every 20 to 30 minutes. Make a habit of adjusting your position frequently. If you struggle with this, set a timer or reminder on your calendar every hour to remind you to get up and move or stretch. Your eyes need a break from the screen several times a day, so remember to glance away from the screen to readjust your eyes. Your body needs a break too; get up and stretch. If you spend most of your time sitting, make sure to incorporate stretches for your lower and upper back as well as your neck. If possible and safe to do so, try and spend some time outside, talk and walk on a conference call, or grab a pen and paper and take notes on your patio.
Check-in Often. We know it is important for our mental health that we make connections. Working from home can sometimes be isolating; so, check-in with people often. Touch base with your boss and employees daily as telecommuting thrives when there’s an emphasis on trust and regular communication. Routine check-ins with your team can help identify priorities and potential obstacles and keep people accountable. Build-in extra time at the end of the meeting to connect personally, share updates, and build community.
Work-Life Balance. Telecommuting brings together two separate spaces of work and home life. This new blend can create a unique environment and is not always the same for everyone. For some, it may be working in small block increments throughout the day instead of 9 am – 5 pm in order to take care of children or a high-risk family member. For others, it may be setting boundaries and not working before or after 9 am – 5 pm. Telecommuting during a pandemic calls for flexing to the needs of your family and your responsibilities while considering yourself, too. Be patient with one another and yourself as we all discover our new work-life balance.