By Jessica Larson, SolopreneurJournal.com
Thousands of U.S. workers have been thrust into the world of remote work because of public health measures responding to the coronavirus, COVID-19. If federal, state or local restrictions on large gatherings have forced you to work remotely, you’re likely facing unanticipated challenges along with the rest of the world.
We know It can be difficult to switch gears and work from home while continuing to keep up with your workload, serve your clients, and maintain a high level of productivity. Here are six quick tips to help you set up and work from home — and to succeed during these unprecedented times.
1. Set up a home office
You may already have most of the equipment you need to work remotely, but if not, you’ll want to get hold of it ASAP to avoid disrupting your workflow any more than necessary. Setting up a makeshift home office might be laborious, but for many, there’s no getting around it. At this point we have no way of knowing how long this outbreak will last, so you could be working from home for the long haul. If your spouse, roommate, and/or kids are also transitioning to remote work or classes, that could complicate things, too. Here are some steps to take:
- Equip your home with reliable and secure Wi-Fi, and be sure you have enough bandwidth to accommodate the kind of work you’ll be doing.
- Use a virtual private network (VPN) to further increase security.
- Ensure that your workspace enables you to work comfortably and without distraction.
- Explore online productivity tools (Trello, Slack, Skype, and Google Hangouts, to name a few) that you can use to enable collaboration and communication with your co-workers.
- Bring home any ergonomically correct items you need so you don’t injure yourself. If you can’t bring them home, order some new ones — you don’t want your productivity hindered by discomfort or even injury.
- Load any essential software you’ll need. Whatever platforms and programs you use daily on your computer at work — for communication, operations, recordkeeping, whatever — make sure you’ve also loaded a version onto your computer at home.
If your living quarters are cramped, it’s a good time to reduce clutter. Many people are finding that now is the time to rent a dumpster and get rid of bulky items that they no longer need. Consider it: The more space you have to work with, the easier it’ll be to stay productive amid any other chaos.
2. Adopt a remote-work mindset
On a normal workday at your company, you would usually have to get up, get dressed, commute to the office, and prepare yourself to meet with the public or your colleagues. If you can keep this mindset going while working remotely, it can help you maintain your productive habits and routines.
While it’s tempting to roll out of bed and work at home in your PJs, if you’re not used to this way of working, it’s easy to fall into lazy habits (i.e., daily ice cream on the couch, binge-watching shows on Netflix), or getting distracted by cleaning and other projects around the house.
Set an alarm each morning and treat each day as if you were physically going in to your workplace. This will help you start every day focused and in a prepared frame of mind.
3. Establishing communication
Whether you work for someone else or run your own business, you’ll likely still be working with other people, even if you can’t see them in person. Since you won’t be running into your colleagues in the break room or greeting customers at the door, you’ll want to establish other ways to keep in touch while the isolation mandates associated with the coronavirus are in effect. Here are a few options:
- Video chats
- Website chats
- Messaging tools (such as Slack)
- Conference calls
- Regular old telephone calls
Be sure your employees, colleagues, and customers have easy and straightforward ways to contact you. If you run a team, be sure to schedule regular meetings with them. If you don’t have a webcam, now is a good time to invest in one, along with a high-quality headset.
4. Watch your finances
Even if you or your family members don’t fall ill with COVID-19, you can still sustain financial damage. Between a volatile stock market, product shortages, increased government restrictions on mobility, business closures and other economic developments, you want to do everything you can to ensure that you survive this crisis financially. It’s risky to live from paycheck to paycheck, but it’s even riskier not knowing what tomorrow holds. Now’s a good time to check your credit rating and, if you find it’s a little on the low side, work to improve your score. If you need access to funding to keep your home or business afloat, you’ll want to have some borrowing capacity. Now can be an especially good time to borrow, in fact, because of the momentary reduction of interest rates.
5. Strengthening your brand visibility
If you’re running a business from home, you’ll want to be sure customers don’t forget about you while they’re self-isolating. In a time where people might be feeling down, you can distribute some great promotional gifts to help lift their spirits and thank them for their business. This can serve multiple purposes: Providing your clients with helpful items and a morale boost, building goodwill among your customer base, and giving your brand’s visibility a boost in the process.
6. Limiting distractions
Distractions can pose significant drawbacks to working remotely. The temptations you’re likely to encounter when working from home are many. To avoid falling into the distraction trap, you’ll want to:
- Set office/business hours and let family and friends know when they are.
- Turn off ringers to phones not associated with work.
- Keep the TV off.
- Shut down any social media apps.
- Turn off any other digital distractions that may interrupt your train of thought during the workday.
- Set a schedule with partners and kids to attempt a few unbroken periods of work time.
The coronavirus pandemic has created disruption across the globe and in our own society, raising unknowns about how long isolation and social distancing practices will remain in place. However, if you establish a functional workspace along with a cohesive plan for each day (or at least the week) that outlines your goals, you’ll go a long way toward minimizing your disruption and being able to productively work from home.
7. Download the free Steady App and search for WFH jobs
There are many jobs out there in which you can work from home. New WFH jobs are being added daily to the Steady App that are in high demand due to COVID-19 . Steady is a great resource to help you find just the right one that works for you and your skills.
Join Steady’s 2 million members by downloading the app in the App Store or on Google Play.