Working from Home for the First Time?
It might sound easier than it is. Yes, the WFH crowd does enjoy benefits like sleeping in a tad
longer, avoiding the angst of rush-hour traffic, and enjoying the luxury of being barefoot all
day. As more employees begin to work from home because of COVID-19, and if you’ve never
done it before, there are some tried-and-true tips from people who have been working from
home for years.
Cordon off space to work: Even if your home doesn’t have ample space, it’s important to
find a suitable area to work, preferably a room with a door for privacy. If that’s not a
possibility, repurpose the kitchen table or part of your bedroom. No desk? Use that sturdy
Amazon box that your household supplies just arrived in or that ancient TV tray that’s been
hiding in the basement for decades.
Announce your schedule: Tell everyone what your WFH schedule is to limit interruptions.
Are your hours the same as when you were onsite at work or have they slightly changed?
Interruptions will surely happen during work hours, but make sure everyone understands that
you can only be interrupted for important issues that may arise.
Little ones & canine companions: With school out in so many locations because of
COVID-19, children may be occupied for much of the day with their online learning and may
look to you for school work assistance. Be realistic. You may not be up to the task of
teaching at the level of what they are used to. That’s okay. These are unusual circumstances
and you cannot be all things to everyone.
Also, keep in mind that kids need down time, too, so be more flexible with FaceTime with
their classmates. Give yourself license to start a movie for them just before you attack that
special work project or turn on their favorite PBS show. If there are younger children at
home, nap time can also help you catch up. And older kids can walk or run the dogs so all
can release that pent-up-at-home energy?
Dress code: You don’t have to dress like you’re headed to the office, but you should be
prepared for that video call. Retailers like Walmart, Gap and Old Navy are reporting increases
in purchases of tops and blouses as more folks WFH. This, they surmise, is because folks
still want to look presentable for Zoom or other video calls. And not surprisingly, the most
frequently purchased bottoms are not chinos or other pants; they are joggers and sweat
pants, not at all video-visible. For now, there are no rushes on any footwear, which means–
Breaks are fine: You’ll need to stop and grab that coffee or make lunch. That’s expected
but be reasonable with the time you spend doing simple chores you normally wouldn’t do if
you were away from home. It’s probably okay to throw a load of laundry in the washer, or
stack the dishwasher, but it’s not okay to paint your living room. Which leads us to our
Discipline: Working from home is really a privilege. In these uncertain times, it has become
a necessity, yet still a privilege. Your employer trusts you to do the right thing—to do your
job. While it might be tempting to get a handle on other things at home, or call long lost
pals, focus on your work responsibilities and the trust your employer has in you during this
difficult time. As always, do the right thing; do the best job you can.