These last couple of weeks have been hard for everyone across the world with COVID-19 spreading quickly. To diminish the spreading, states have issued “social distancing” rules, meaning businesses all over are requiring their employees to work from home if possible.

Working from home can be difficult, but with technological growth transforming business capabilities, it is also much easier for us now to stay connected to our teams online. Even before this pandemic hit, the growing popularity of working from home can be seen with 4.7 million Americans already telecommuting.

With this number continuing to grow and with people having to work from home for the first time, we compiled some tips and tricks to help alleviate some of the pains that come from working virtually- and highlight some of the best parts about it!

Set Ground Rules

Working from home can easily create a feeling of false availability/freedom for those you live with.  When working from home, you are already faced with dozens of extra distractions that don’t exist at the office.  By setting ground rules with those you live with, it can help reduce the amount of distractions you face.  You can create a closed-door rule to indicate when you are free and busy, or you can set up blocks of time for when your work requires your full attention.

It can also help to set some rules with your team- when you will be available, what time you plan to take breaks, and when you expect to be offline for the day. This can help limit communication issues and can make it easier to navigate virtual collaboration.  Laying these ground rules with those you live with or work with will also help keep you in your regular working routine.

Schedule breaks

If this is your first time working from home, it can be hard to know when to take breaks- especially when working from your home in itself can already feel like a break! However, taking breaks away from your computer during your workday is proven to help your attention span, productivity levels, and your overall mental health.  No matter if you are in your home or in an office space, work is work and you deserve to give yourself some breaks.  So be sure to take a break to make yourself a snack, go for a walk or get a workout in, take some time to be mindful, or enjoy a little bit of socialization!

Keep a Dedicated Office Space

Having a dedicated area to work in can help you narrow in and focus on your work.  Not only can it help reduce the number of distractions, but it can help create an association for your brain to know that when you are in that dedicated space it’s time to work.  This can also loop back to setting ground rules for those you live with – when you are in your work-space, you are putting your full attention on your work.

If you don’t have a spare room to create your office space, don’t worry! You can set up a space on your kitchen table or in your living room. Just make sure to limit distractions!

Extra tip: Try not to work from your bed. Working from your bed causes you to associate that area with work, tricking your brain and can lead to sleep disruptions.

Work Your Typical Hours

Working from home can offer a lot of flexibility with your time- but it can also cause you to overwork. You might feel like you need to work extra to prove that you are delivering when in reality, that isn’t true. To help alleviate this, set daily and weekly goals and communicate with your team so you set expectations.

If your usual working schedule is 8-5, make it clear to your team that you will only be available during those hours and try your best to stick with it. Set an alarm or ask a family member to hold you accountable as a reminder.

Woman using modern workplace solutions to work remotely at desk with her laptop.

Remember to Socialize

Just because you can’t chat face to face, doesn’t mean your socialization is any less important.  Be sure to take time to socialize with your coworkers.  Working from home requires a lot of various communication with your team.  They need breaks as much as you do, and it’s a good chance to build on your relationships with each other.

If you’re used to having a cup of coffee with your team every morning to discuss projects or goals, schedule a virtual meeting and continue to do so! Keeping up with your everyday rituals will make working from seem a bit more stable and make you feel less alone.

Don’t Forget to Enjoy The Benefits

No Commute, No Traffic

Switching to working from home can be tricky to navigate, but it also has its perks. For one, you won’t have to commute which means no angry drivers or traffic to deal with.  Not only does this give more time directly back to you, but it has also shown to help reduce stress levels. Instead, use this time to slow down in the mornings- enjoy a cup of coffee with your family, workout, play with your dogs, or catch up on some sleep!

More Time With Your Pets

Speaking of dogs, your new work-from-home lifestyle means you get to spend more time with your pets! They will love getting to have you home all day and being around them can help with stress and get you outside more often for quick breaks.

No More Fighting Over Conference Rooms

Taking calls has never been easier!  Being in an office for calls can be tricky sometimes.  Conference rooms book quickly, and there can be lots of ambient noise around the office.  Working from home means no more scrambling for a conference room or looking for a quiet corner of the office.  You know the ins and outs of your home, and you have it all to yourself.

women sitting on the bed laughing with their dogs.

When working from home, it can be easy to feel as though you are missing out on chances to collaborate, or that your work is less seen, but your work is as meaningful as you make it!  Perspective is everything.  Working from home provides you with more freedom and agency, so take your time to think of creative solutions and find additional ways to provide value to your work.  Overall it provides a great new opportunity for you to really show off your work ethic from the comfort of your home.

So remember to be mindful of your habits during this time away from the office and enjoy the benefits that working from home provides.

Stay safe, wash your hands, and practice social distancing as much as possible!

Sarah Coxwell is the Office Administrator at Affirma.

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