As people around the world have ‘sheltered in place’ and remained ‘safer at home’ during the global Covid-19 pandemic, studying and working from home has become not only a technological possibility but also a necessity for many students and employees.
Current students have had to take all their studies into their homes, which do not always provide the best environment for optimal focus. And employees who have the benefit of working from home (WFH) have had to adjust to new ways of working from living rooms and kitchen tables, navigating all that comes with it.
Not all global citizens can work from home, but for those who can, the prospect does not feel the same as face-to-face study and work. In fact, in the United States, the National Society of High School Scholars Student Voices of America Survey found that 32% of high school and college students in America would prefer not to attend school in the fall if classes were held solely online. Though the survey reflects American students’ views of the future, NSHSS serves a global network of scholars, all of whom are facing new normals when it comes to attending school.
If you are a recent graduate, you might be searching for a job or have recently come across a job opportunity and face the possibility that all your work will have to be from home, at least for now.
Though you might not like this WFH trend, while it might be necessary to stay safe, here are seven tips for navigating the work-from-home reality so that you can adapt to this new environment and maintain productivity.
Create a dedicated “office” space.
Wherever you are in the world, if you are working or studying from home, you can set yourself up for success by creating some sort of dedicated office space.
This can simply mean you find a corner of your living room and set it up with a desk, inspirational art, and a clear workspace. Even if you live in a small apartment and share space with others, try to clear even a small area for yourself that you consider your work area.
Make sure you only use this space for working, if at all possible.
By finding a dedicated workspace, you will be able to signal to your brain when you are working and when you are actually just at home relaxing. Otherwise, you might easily blur the line between work and play and never quite feel separated from work.
Eliminate distractions however you can.
Though some people find that working from home actually helps them focus, others are easily distracted when tempted at home with the possibility of a nap or browsing social media all day instead of working.
Even without an office space, following the first tip, to create a dedicated work space, will help separate you from the leisure aspect of being at home. However, you can also find ways to eliminate distractions by monitoring your devices and social media use.
For example, you can find several different apps to block distractions and even set timers for social media sites to keep yourself from browsing rather than working.
This should help you be more productive and utilize your WFH time more effectively.
Take planned breaks.
Another important aspect of working from home that many people overlook is taking the time for real, dedicated breaks.
Though you might find that working constantly while you’re at home is tempting, you will only lead yourself to burnout and feeling overwhelmed and might not even be as productive as you think.
You can try working for 45 minutes and then taking a 15-minute break, for example. And take half an hour for lunch to actually sit and eat without any device in front of you.
Hopefully, taking planned breaks will allow you to focus while working and also give your mind and body time to recharge.
This includes sleep, so try to overcome the temptation to work late into the night and keep yourself to a set schedule as best as you possibly can.
Set intentions for careful communication.
Working and studying with people face-to-face offers the opportunity for studying facial expressions and body language, which you will not get in the same fashion when working from home.
Since communication and tone can get lost in translation when communicating through text or email, try to utilize phone calls and video conferencing as much as you can, or as much as your job will allow.
If you have to communicate using typed words alone, make sure you re-read messages before sending them and ask questions of others if you are unsure what a message they’ve sent might mean.
This will set you up for success when it comes to WFH relationships with coworkers and supervisors/managers.
Manage your internet connection.
Working from home usually requires a solid internet connection. Not everyone has the ability or funds to maintain wireless internet at home, so hopefully your company makes sure that they help provide that service.
In fact, it’s important for companies asking employees to work from home to do their best to remove social and practical barriers to home-working for their employees.
If you do have access to the internet but notice that your connection is sometimes spotty, consider connecting your device to the internet routing using an ethernet cable, which can help to solidify your connection.
Review video conferencing etiquette.
Speaking of the strength of an internet connection, you have likely seen and experienced many faux pas when it comes to video conferencing, some as a result of a poor internet connection. In a work environment, the clarity of video calls can suffer from multiple people speaking at once, certain individuals losing connection or freezing during the meeting, folks forgetting to mute their sound or stop video during distracting moments, etc.
To avoid some of these issues, take a look at some dos and don’ts of video conferencing etiquette, which should help you prepare for possible issues and address them if they arise.
Get outside whenever you can.
Unless you have an enviable outdoor office, you are likely working and studying from home while indoors. As a result, getting outside to take breaks from screens and to move your body is of the utmost importance.
When you do take breaks, make sure you also get some fresh air, as long as you can do so safely. You’ll be surprised how refreshing going outside can be for your mental and physical health.
Take good care, and hopefully working and studying from home will get easier, or people will be able to safely reconvene in person soon.
Chris Everett is a content writer and marketing specialist for the NSHSS, an academic honour society committed to supporting young academics on their journey to college and beyond as they prepare to become the leaders of tomorrow. Follow NSHSS on Twitter or Facebook for more information.