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  • Writer's pictureMicki Bare

#socialdistancing telecommuting tips

Updated: Mar 31, 2020

Has your job suddenly become a work-at-home situation? With today's technology and virtual abilities, as long as we have an internet connection, most of us can do at least some of our jobs from home. Aren't we the lucky ones!?

Home office view
My current teleworking view.

For those of you who've never teleworked or telecommuted (depending on your preferred verbiage), I decided to dig into the caverns of my memories and a few old blogs to resurrect what I know about working at home.

The first thing you must do is claim your workspace. This is an area of your home—NOT in your bedroom—where you plant your proverbial flag and plug up a computer. This is the most critical stage of transitioning to working at home. There are a few things to consider when selecting your workspace:

  • Make sure you have excellent cell service and internet. Test the space first. You don't want to set up in a dead spot and then have to move everything.

  • Find the most comfortable chair in your home and then add a cushion. For many of us, the most comfortable chairs we own are recliners and the couch. These cannot be used for teleworking unless you get paid to nap. Beware your dining room chairs. I believe they are designed to become gradually more uncomfortable the longer you sit in them so as to ensure guests don't overstay their welcome. There is a chair somewhere in your home that, paired with a comfortable pillow or cushion, will suffice eight-hours a day in the short-term.

  • Desks used to pay bills don't quite cut it when it comes to spreading out paperwork, computer hardware, a printer, half-empty coffee mugs, snack plates, a spare cushion, and the cat. Yes, I said cat. At home, you must expect your cat will take naps on your makeshift desk. That's why you'll need a good-sized table to supplement the little cluttered desk you use to pay bills.

  • Set up near a window. And be sure to face that window. That way, you can look up from your computer screen and see trees, birds, clouds, the side of the building across the alley (you might live in a big city—I don't know), your neighbors when they step out to stretch, smoke, and empty recycling into their recycle get the idea. You might not have an office with a view at work, but at home, the corner office is yours for the taking!

Once you have your space secured and set up—likely with the help of a younger member of the family who can connect all the HDMI and power cords in such a way that everything works—you'll need to establish a schedule. I highly recommend keeping as close to your old routine as possible. Get up at the same time, workout, shower, brush your teeth, drink a half a pot of coffee, and then start work at the same time you used to arrive at the office. Routines are critical for keeping us sane when all else seems insane.

Bunny outside home office window
When I had a home office, this guy was my view!

Once you've begun settling into your new work reality, remember to take breaks. Do laundry, simmer marinara, dust, organize your mail. I know you're not getting paid to do these things. But you do need time to think and solve problems. You don't have your co-workers to bounce ideas off of and you can't go to the break room and raid the leftovers from yesterday's meeting, gossip at the copier, or walk to the coffee shop a block away. Those activities must be replaced to keep your sanity (there's that word again). Therefore, in short bursts, get up, walk about, and stir the sauce. Put the wash into the dryer. Recycle the credit card offers and stack your bills. Just keep the breaks short.

You also need to wear comfortable clothes. The best part of working at home is that pajamas are acceptable attire. There is no business casual requirement. You don't have to wear ties or blazers. At home, there's no need for pantyhose or Spanx, shoes, or accessories. If you have an online video meeting, put on a sweater or slip into a clean shirt for the duration of the meeting. If you're not feeling it, call into the meeting and forego the video part.

You'll want to ensure you can tune out the kids, spouses, televisions, traffic, or whatever distractions surround you. Make use of your ear buds or air pods or whatever you stuff into your ears to shut out the world. To get into and stay in work mode, you simply must shut out your home world.

Lastly, you no longer have a commute. There's no down time between work and home. Therefore, in order to prevent conflict and keep your—yep, you guessed it—sanity, you need to create transitional down time between working and interacting with your family. Read a book, do some gardening, strike a few yoga poses, meditate—whatever you need to let go of work stress and make room for family stress.

What other tips for telecommuting would you share?

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