09 April 2020

Constructing a Working Environment from Home

By: Amanda Sollenberger

Over the past weeks, most Americans have experienced a shift in their daily routines due to the COVID-19 virus. While much of the current situation is out of our control, it is important to do our best with what is in our control, while following the state and federal guidelines for keeping yourself and your community safe. If you are working from home for an extended period of time, there are many ways to optimize your time, space and routine. Below are tips and habits to implement while working from home to keep your work and yourself at their best.

Have a Separate Work Space

While your office is typically separate from your home, it is important to establish a designated work space within your house to keep some of that same mental and physical separation of the different elements of your life. Find a quiet place to work that ideally is separate from your main living space, and set up your technology and work supplies there. This will maintain a separation of work time and home time and will allow you to be more efficient while you are working. If you live in a smaller space and have limited options to set up shop, make sure to papers, chargers, etc. away at the end of the day and clean up the space on weekends.

Stick to a Routine

Even though you no longer have a commute or will be in an office with your coworkers, it is important to maintain a morning routine where you “get ready” for your day. If you typically listen to a podcast and grab a coffee on your way in, you can still play that same podcast while you get ready and make coffee. It may feel easier to roll out of bed a few minutes before work starts and go straight to your computer, but you will be much more efficient throughout your day if you take 15-20 minutes to establish a pre-work ritual. This also continues throughout the day with establishing time for lunch or exercise and mental breaks. In a typical work day, most people get up every couple hours to re-fill a water bottle and have brief conversations with co-workers. Make sure you are still getting up and staying hydrated at home and taking a few minutes to stretch.

Establish New Communication Habits with your Team

If you and your team have been suddenly transitioned from typical in-person communication to exclusively virtual, the best way to make the transition smooth is to over-communicate. Luckily, there are seemingly endless options for virtual collaboration (Skype, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, etc.) and it is important to figure out which method works best for your team. Daily or weekly check-ins over video chat are helpful to maintain social contact as well as promote collaboration and your team can establish a new way to organize responsibilities that ensure nothing slips through the cracks during this transition. Our current situation can also be looked at an opportunity to build the strength of teams. Team leads can implement morale-boosting elements of video calls such as asking everyone to share a piece of positive news (something as simple as a great take-out meal) or have a weekly “theme” where everyone wears their favorite sweatshirt on the call. This is a critical time for employees who are anxiously watching how their employers are handling the situation and these types of activities along with clear communication of action plans make a huge difference.

Stay Social and Active

As your normal priorities shift, it is important to remember to prioritize your mental and physical health. There are many ways to still unwind and have a social life such as virtual happy hours over video chat with friends or co-workers and virtual game nights with family using platforms like Jackbox Games or trivia. If there is a time you would normally set aside to spend socializing, it’s a good idea to replace it with a virtual version of the same activity. In addition, there are many workouts online or on social media from fitness professionals, gyms and studio classes that are free and available on demand which can be used as an opportunity to try something new. Lastly, open windows or get outside for fresh air when possible. Take short walks while maintaining social distancing or enjoy time in your yard.

Most importantly, always check your local guidelines of social distancing and stay at home orders and use these tips and suggestions where you can to make this unprecedented time as productive and calm as possible.

About the Author

Amanda is an Assistant Marketing Coordinator in the Chicago office and is in her third year with the company.  She is originally from the Cleveland area and is a graduate of Miami University in Ohio. Amanda currently lives in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood and enjoys being part of Clune’s social media team and training for the Chicago Marathon.

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