As the current situation with COVID-19 developing and spreading fast, more and more companies are opting for their employees to work from home so they can comply with the social distancing protocol to help in the battle of spreading the virus. The virus is spreading through people so social distancing is a measure that governments implement to try and slow the virus down and make sure it’s under control.
Many people are struggling and don’t really know how to setup an efficient home office during the COVID-19 outbreak that will make them as creative, productive and efficient as they were in their offices. It’s a real challenge because most people who are commuting to work have already developed routines that they are used to and working from home isn’t ideal for them but we all have to adapt to the situation and try to make the best of it. It’s best for all of us keep ourselves motivated, connected and productive during this crisis so that we can come out of this entire situation in the best condition possible and keeping up our work schedule can help us a lot, not just from an economic standpoint but also keep up our spirits.
While every single job is different from each other and working from home will be different depending on what your profession is there are some things that would apply for everyone so we prepared a few things that you’ll find extremely useful when you don’t know how to setup an efficient home office during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Just like in your office you may need some hardware in your home so you can successfully work efficiently and have everything you need around you so you can get the job done properly.
The first thing you will need, while it’s not a piece of hardware, it’s extremely important to start with and that’s a working space. Basically, it’s an area in the house where you’ll do your work and only your work. A place where you’ll associate with working and you won’t have any distractions or at least limit them as much as possible. If you have an entire room to dedicate to this, than great but if you don’t, make sure you find the place that is furthest away from the kitchen and as far away as possible from the TV so you’re not tempted to turn to it and see what’s on from time to time. It’ll be very distracting. Of course some music playing in the background might not be distracting but if it’s too loud it may lower your working capacity. Once that’s done and ready, you’ll need some software and hardware set-up around you depending on your job.
For your connection to be as stable as possible, you’ll need to get a good router that will be fast and have a good Wi-Fi signal. If you don’t have one already, it’s crucial to get one because it’s the most essential piece of hardware that will keep you online and make sure that you stay connected with all your colleagues and you can effectively do your job from home. There are some quite fast but also not too expensive routers available on the market so it shouldn’t be a problem finding a good one.
A good headset is also a good idea to have in case you have a work where you need to communicate with your colleagues constantly. Imagine having one that is constantly glitching or transmitting unclear nonsense both way. You won’t be able to do your job properly and on top of it all you’ll really get angry. Aside from a good headset you’ll also need to get a software that your entire workplace has on which everyone will be online and available so you can call or text each other all the time. An application like Skype will do the job just right.
Depending on your job, a printer may be necessary as well. If you have a lot of documents to be printed out, signed and scanned or faxed somewhere getting a printer that has all of these options is crucial and there are a bunch of affordable options both online and in local stores.
While this may not help you do your job per se, a coffee machine that makes great coffee will save you from heading to the first coffee place and working from there because you need a good cup of coffee to get your more focused and ready to start your workday. While it might not seem like an essential part of the home office at first it’s something that you’ll appreciate a lot when you’re feeling the need for coffee.
Since you’ll spend a lot of time sitting down it’s advantageous for your back to get a chair that will be comfortable and keep your body in the right position so you don’t develop any back pains. Getting something to make sure your monitor is in the right eye height when you work will help with keeping the correct posture too. Keeping yourself healthy and preventing any conditions developing from sitting too long should be a priority.
Once you’ve learned how to setup an efficient home office during the COVID-19 outbreak with the proper hardware and your work space is ready to be used, you need to make sure you have a routine that you’ll be able to stick to. It’s usually best to keep up with the same working habits you had when you were actually in the office because you’re already used to working at that time. So, working from home doesn’t mean you should work whenever you want and stretch everything that you need to do for the day through the entire day and even into the night but stick to the working hours you kept in the office. Another thing you need to do as well is do all your morning preparations just like you’re going to the office. Don’t just wake up and sit in front of you PC or laptop and start working in your pajamas. Wash up, dress up and do the exact same thing you’re doing when everything is normal because the routine you were doing before is preparing you mentally for the job you need to do and it’ll help you a lot to get in the right mindset for working. Changing your clothes from pajamas is essential here even though you’re home. It doesn’t have to be a suit but putting on different pants and a shirt will help you feel like you’re at work.
Multitasking is something that many people believe makes them faster at what they do but more often than not it’s not the case. Try to focus solely on your work even though you’ll have many distraction you can do around the house that might involve all kinds of chores that you’ve been putting out for a long time. Since you’re at home it’s easy to get distracted by something like this and just abandon your workspace for a long time. Sometimes even a short distraction can stop your train of thought and make you forget what you were working on. You should also prepare your lunch and snacks just like you’d do it when going to the office so you don’t waste any time preparing your meals in the middle of your work which may cause more distractions and be counterproductive.
Although you’re working from home and we’re all advised to stay inside, getting some fresh air without exposing yourself to big social groups is something you have to do to keep up your health and spirits. Just like when you’re in the office and you go out for a half an hour lunch break, you should do the same when you’re at home. Take the proper break and go eat in your yard or take a walk around your neighborhood just to stretch your legs and breathe in some fresh outside air and even catch some sunlight that will surely freshen you up and make you feel much better than being stuck in your apartment all day. You can even get a cup of coffee from your coffee machine and drink it while walking around enjoying your work break. Going out and walking is also good for your back and posture because, as we said before, sitting around for too long might cause back pains that are really uncomfortable and even if you have the best ergonomic chair it may not be enough.
Another thing that you can do to be as efficient as possible when working from home is to take breaks whenever you feel like you need one. Maybe after every completed task or every hour. Short breaks will prevent you feeling like you’re tied to your chair at work and ensure that you’re not sitting down for long hours. Sometimes even taking a 5 minute break every 25-30 minutes is a great idea as well according to research that discovered that these short breaks are much more advantageous than longer breaks that are less frequent.
By this we mean, make sure that your work stays at work and not stretch into the personal part of your life and interrupt with your family or free time. It’s much easier to this when working from home because your workplace is just a few steps away and you might be tempted to work a little bit before going to bed so you can finish a little bit of the work you will have tomorrow but it’s really a grey area that might get out of control and before you know it, turn into you working all the time and have no time for yourself or anyone else in your family. It can be very harmful, especially to your social life and you shouldn’t take this lightly and make sure you follow the rules you set for yourself so you don’t get to a situation where you are unable to balance your work with your life.
This is especially important if you’re not living alone and have a family. Preparing yourself mentally that you’ll be interrupted will save you a lot of time in explanations and conversations trying to stop them from happening. They won’t, especially if you have children because they’ll want to spend time with you and they won’t understand that you have to finish before you’re able to give them your complete attention. Going in with a plan will ensure that this situation isn’t making you angry or annoyed and it will bother you much less when you’re ready for it.
Having the right hardware and set up so will ensure that you’re able to do your job as efficiently as possible while maintaining proper posture and not endangering your health.
Sticking to the same working habits you had when you had an office is beneficial for you because you’re already used to that routine and it’ll be an easier transition to do everything else but commuting to work instead of changing the entire routine or skip parts of it.
Whenever you work, make sure you’re not focused on other things as well and trying to multitask because it will not be productive or efficient.
Also, it’s advantageous to occasionally get some fresh air and get out of your home and take short breaks more often than longer breaks which are less frequent.
Preparing yourself mentally for interruptions is also something you need to do because they will happen if you have a family that is living with you in the house. Having a plan for this will save you a lot of time and it won’t bother you too much because you’ll be ready and expecting it.
It’s a real challenge to go through this rough times and adapt your routine to work from home while retaining the productivity, efficiency and creativity as you had in your office but it’s very important that we properly adapt to this so that we can come out on the other end with as less “bruises” as possible. Following the tips we shared with you above will surely help you a lot when setting up your home office and prepare you for the challenges you’re going to face.
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