Tips for working productively from home
Many of us at the University of Nevada, Reno have been designated to work from home. There was little time to mentally and physically prepare for transitioning from a campus-based office to a home-based one. Maybe you’ve had distractions (hello, parents), an uncomfortable workspace or technological issues. Maybe you have everything set up for success, but you just haven’t found your rhythm yet. You’re not alone! We have scoured a multitude of recent articles about how to work from home and brainstormed with our fellow teammates to bring you the following expert advice.
Use ergonomic best practices.
Structure your day.
Establish (or maintain prior) working hours and stick to them. Get up and go to bed at your usual times. If you change your schedule every day, it will make it harder to find a rhythm. Once you have a rhythm that works for you, commit to it by putting it on your calendar. You can block out chunks of time dedicated to project work or tasks – but you can mark them as “available” in case someone needs to schedule a meeting with you. Don’t forget to block out times for things like lunch, family interaction (if you’re parenting while you work) or exercise, like a daily walk.
"Show up" for work.
As tempting as it is, resist the urge to stay in your pajamas during the work week and let the TV play in the background. Dress comfortably in business-casual attire, maybe as you would on Fridays at the office. Dressing professionally psychologically encourages you to be in your work role. This may also help to remind family members and housemates that you are in a work role even though you remain at home. You’re also spending more time than usual in online meetings, and you’re more likely to turn on your camera when you look as you normally would in the office. Meetings are far more productive and fun when everyone fully participates.
Create boundaries to minimize distractions.
When you’re on campus, your housemates and children can’t walk into your office or join your meetings; your coworkers don’t turn the television on behind you and start laughing hysterically at their favorite show. When you are working at home, you may need to establish new boundaries during work hours. If you share a home with children or roommates, experts recommend that you establish your workstation behind a closed door and discuss your need to not be interrupted. Put a “do not disturb” sign on your door or hanging from your doorknob when you need quiet and take it down when it is ok to have quick interruptions.
Designate a workspace.
As much as possible, set up a designated workstation. It should be a place where you have minimal distractions and feel most organized. Make this workstation as comfortable, functional and free from clutter as possible. An established workstation not only helps us with efficiency and productivity, but it helps with the oftentimes blurred boundaries that working from home can create.
Don’t lose ‘sight’ of your team.
The isolation of working alone can pose unique challenges emotionally and psychologically. Our teams support us at work, and we can continue to support each other under these new circumstances. Call or send a message to a co-worker just to say hello, just as you would normally say hello and chat for a few minutes in the hallway at work. Be sure to turn on your cameras for some old-fashioned face time.
Ask for help.
Check in with your supervisor early and often. If you are lacking certain tools, or your tools are causing frustration, there’s a good chance your supervisor can help! If you have back pain, perhaps they can let you check out your office chair. If your small screen is causing you eye strain, perhaps they will allow you to borrow one of the office monitors. If the computer you’re using at home isn’t cutting it, or you’re sharing it with your family as you, your partner and/or children work or study from home, ask your supervisor if an extra laptop or computer can be designated for your use.
If you are struggling with sadness, depression or other emotions related to working remotely from your work family, we encourage you to connect as often as possible with your coworkers and family. Check in with your friends from across campus to see how they are doing. Call or face time with friends and family. If you talk to your supervisor, perhaps video calls with your team can be scheduled more frequently.
If you are struggling with this transition emotionally, mentally or spiritually, please be aware of our Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Our EAP is a local counseling clinic that is confidential and very experienced in counseling over the phone or video link. All employees may have three sessions covered for free, and continue with additional sessions using your insurance plan.