Tips for staying sane in your home office
4/1/20 / Beth Mulligan
For as long as our firm has been around, we’ve almost always had at least one person working remotely. All of us started our careers in the Denver office, but as spouse’s jobs pulled people to different places, we have adapted to having a more dispersed team. Because of this, we were in many ways well prepared for the current situation. (See our other blog about our work-from-home infrastructure.)
Because several of us have spent years working from our homes all day every day, we’ve tapped into our expertise to prepare these tips for those of you who are newer to the ongoing work from home experience. Working from home can be hard. It can be especially hard if you didn’t get to plan for it and are potentially also caring for (hiding from?) children while at home. However, since we may be working at home for a while, what can make it easier? Whether you are working from a beautiful home office or from your kitchen table while watching your kids, here are some things that have been helpful for us and might be helpful for you. And if you do end up having one of those days where you can’t remember if you showered, you ate peanut butter straight from the jar, etc., remember that tomorrow is another day.
- Get ready in the morning as if you’re going into the office. Take a shower, put some daytime clothes on, comb your hair. You will feel more like the professional human being that you are, and you won’t panic when the cold video call comes in. (It will happen.)
- Try to keep normal working hours. We all work some weird hours sometime, but it can be easy to let work bleed into the rest of your day when you’re working from home. Try scheduling something at the end of the workday to force you to stop working, like a video happy hour with a friend, a walk with your dog, a workout video, or a game with your kids. Put your laptop away. Try to stop checking email.
- We recommend working from a place other than your bed. Our team is split between desks, kitchen tables, and sofas. And we have heard of someone who set up shop in their master bathroom because it was the quietest place in the house. This article from a few years ago has some nice tips on setting up your home workspace.
- Go outside for at least a few minutes. Vitamin D and fresh air are good for your immune system. Just wash your hands when you come back in.
- Periodically, eat your lunch somewhere other than your desk. Or do something fun during a short lunch break, like call a coworker or read a chapter of a book. The Corona team has even had a few group lunch meetings to get people together virtually.
- Take 5-minute breaks! Walk around a little bit. Feeling compelled to prove that you’re being productive can lead to a lot of anxiety around taking breaks – even worrying that you could miss a call during bathroom breaks. It helps to remember all the normal distractions of office life, and now instead of talking about football with your coworkers, you can take a few minutes to hang out in your kids’ fort with them, or read a magazine article on your front porch. It doesn’t mean you’re slacking off!
- Schedule some video calls. Sure, you could just write it in an email, but it’s nice to see a face now and then.
- Check your background for video calls. Make sure the other people in your house know when it is (or isn’t) safe to walk behind you … especially if your background includes a hallway between a shower and a bedroom. Luckily, we’re not speaking from too much experience here, but we’ve all seen the YouTube videos. Check your software for options to fuzz your background or insert a background. And then just don’t forget you’re sharing video and take your laptop on a walk to the restroom.
- Communicate more than you think is necessary. Keep people informed of what you’re working on – especially if your boss isn’t used to having people work from home. And check in with your coworkers to see how others are doing. Some people are enjoying the freedom of working from home, some are feeling overwhelmed about the amount of work and their ability to get things done from home. Try to help each other get through this and make the best of it. One of our coworkers has been posting a daily Q&A to our chatroom so that we always have a group discussion going.
- Finally, if you have a spouse/partner/etc. who is watching your kids while you work, thank them immensely and don’t take them for granted. (Shout out to all the Corona spouses helping on this front!)
Those are our main suggestions. Stay healthy everyone!