Working From Home During a Pandemic

Working From Home

It is no secret that Covid-19 changed the way we live and work. A response scenario that was once thought to be a temporary adaptation to an unexpected virus, has morphed into the new long-term reality.

For many of us that means we are now working remotely and have been for at least a few years. And most surveys support the notion that most of us will continue with at least a partial WFH schedule for the foreseeable future. The angst of days working at home, next to our partners, while our kids are e-learning in their rooms and the “littles” are crawling around underfoot – have settled down to a more manageable degree. Still, it is good to review the tips we first learned in 2020 to reduce stress and set routines that keep our life-work balance centered away from the tipping point. Below are the tips we presented then, steeled now with a few years of trial and error, that might just be valuable yet today.

Maintain Regular Hours – Set a Schedule

Working from home should still have so called “office hours” just as if you were heading into the office. Be sure to let your team members and coworkers know what your work hours are. It is understandable that your hours might be a little different working from in the office; occasional non-office interruptions to assist your child or let the dog out, let the plumber in or receive a delivery – will happen. Be courteous and communicate your need for these short absences and be understanding when it happens to others.

Try and start each day with a to-do list. Update it daily to ensure you are not losing sight of your priorities. Set time limits for your daily tasks. Use phone alarms if necessary. This ensures that you are not consumed by any one task and spend too much time on it. When working from home it is important also to avoid work creeping into your home life. Ensuring that you have a hard stop at the end of your workday and when the day is over – walking away should be the normal expectation.

Keep a Morning Routine

If you previously got up in the morning to shower and get ready – do that. If you usually make yourself coffee and breakfast – do that. Get yourself dressed for work. It puts you in the right mindset for a productive day and has you ready for the unexpected Zoom call with that new client! I think the days of working in our PJ’s and sitting at our screens in shirt & tie and our boxers, are over. In today’s virtual work environment working from home does not mean that no one will see you during the day. And comb your hair!

Schedule Breaks Throughout Your Day

Be sure to take mini breaks throughout your day just as you would in the office. Take a walk or stretch, do something to get your body moving – anything to clear your mind. These will help increase productivity and creativity in your work.

Create a Dedicated Office Space

Most of us have hunkered down for the long haul at this point. The temporary setup on the kitchen table might not be the best option for a long-term setup. Do your best to set up a desk and dedicated workspace. Make certain that you have any office supplies you may need – pens & notepads are easily accessible when in the office, make sure you have something to take notes on!

Use of Video Conferencing

With much of the workforce being remote, conference and video calls are the norm. Practice conference line manners by muting when not speaking to avoid background noise on the calls. Learn the control buttons for video, mute, volume, and screen sharing features over a variety of platforms; Zoom, MS Teams, and WebEx for example. Be ready to make a good impression.

And do not underestimate the humanity aspect of our work. Staying connected via video chats is a way to feel less isolated. Use video conferencing to check in with your team or host a virtual happy hour with your team or coworkers. During video calls it is important to be in a well-lit room so people can see clearly. Also be sure to mind your background during these video calls! Stay connected. Share what’s going on with you and your family; how are the kids? Is your Mom or Dad feeling better? Did your spouse get that promotion? What are your thoughts on our new software – I find it difficult to navigate – do you? Be connected so you feel connected.

Do not Forget to Take Lunch

Just because you are working at home does not mean you should skip your lunch break! Use the time to do something for yourself. Being so close to your kitchen, it could start calling your name throughout the day not just during lunchtime! If possible, try to avoid having unhealthy snacks available in your house. Take the opportunity of being at home to try out new healthy recipes – make lunch for yourself instead of snacking all day. If you do snack during the day – measure out a portion instead of taking a whole bag. For an additional time saving tip – prep meals the night before. Portion out the leftovers you want for lunch tomorrow, get a jump of peeling, slicing & dicing what is needed for tomorrow’s dinner.

Set Clear Boundaries

Just as important as it is to walk away from work at the end of the day, it is important to walk away from life during the day and work. I know many people have distractions when it comes to work these days – roommates, spouses, kids and/or pets. For most, a simple sign on the door helps with communication as to when it is okay to enter your workspace and when it is not. Written signs though are often ignored by children – as are most things that are simply stated to them. Try instead a visual sign such as a Stop Sign: Red = do not enter, Yellow = enter quietly, an emergency, Green = feel free to come in. This is a great way to ensure that you are able to get work done and make sure that your family is taken care of.


Stay Aware of Security Risks

When working from home it is important to be just as vigilant as you are in the office when it comes to security risks – if not more! Cybercriminals ramp up phishing attacks and scams daily. It is vital that you are aware of who is sending you emails, and trust but verify any documents that are sent to you. Do not give out ANY personal information. Neither your bank, utility company, nor the IRS will ever ask you for such information over the phone. If you are unsure – say nothing, hang up and you call them. Be aware of all internal company policies to ensure data protection – put away your papers when work is through and clear your desk.  And if your frequent visitors are young, consider a “sippy cups only” policy!

Make the most of this opportunity – enjoy the surroundings, the lack of commute the balanced lifestyle – and make the most of your flying solo routine. Your productivity will follow you.


Scroll to Top