Working from home has taken on a whole new meaning over the past few weeks, as a result of shelter-in-place rules handed down from employers via government mandates to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Those dreams of setting up shop in a well-appointed home office, steps away from nutritious snacks and homemade coffee, where commutes could be traded for extra sleep, have become a reality, sort of. Although many have had their visions jarringly altered by the presence of children and spouses who are also required to stay at home. And, given the quick turn of events, unless the shell of a home office was already in works, most have had to create make-shift workspaces that aren’t ideal. How can we stay productive as we work from home, while also juggling family life?
Set Up a Schedule
It is important to maintain a schedule that not only takes into consideration your own requirements, but also those of others in the home. If you have children who are too young to be left unsupervised, or those who need help using their remote learning tools, or your work computer has become a shared family computer temporarily, then a schedule will help you to see how best to divide your time. You can’t expect to be teacher, parent, cook, janitor, and worker simultaneously. In fact, you may find that you will have to do most of your paid work while family members are asleep. A schedule will help identify the best flow to your day. Even if it seems an impossible schedule to maintain for an extended period of time, take solace in knowing that you won’t have to. This is a temporary situation, and, at some point, things will get back to normal. Just do the best you can.
Take Time to Breathe
If trying to work from home is harder than expected, don’t let it get you down. Everyone is currently under some level of pressure. Experts suggest that short stretches of controlled breathing can help calm the nerves and refocus energy. “What energy?” you may be asking. If you feel like the life is being sucked out of you, ask your partner or a close friend or relative (who is not at risk of being compromised by the virus) to take over while you rest for one hour. And find a way to return the favor. Also, consider a brisk walk outside, even if it’s just around your backyard, or marching in place on an outdoor balcony. Fresh air will help rejuvenate the senses, and movement will reduce stress, increase energy, and calm the mind.
Take Advantage of Outdoor Spaces
Speaking of stepping outside, consider taking your work outdoors. While some parts of the country aren’t as warm as others, if it’s possible to take advantage of an outdoor seating area or dining table, sitting outside can offer the extra space needed to think and work with a clear mind. For a company like StruXure that brings the indoors out via its adjustable louvered-roof pergolas, moving a home office outside is a great solution. “When I added a StruXure pergola onto my home last year, I was looking for more space for entertaining and a protected area for my kids to play in on rainy days,” says customer Kevin C. “But now that I’m staying home to work, it’s been a godsend…I can step into the quiet of my backyard to take a business call, or I can work from my favorite chair and still keep an eye on my children while they run off energy in the yard.”
While we search for ways to carry on during these times of uncertainty, perhaps we should look at the shelter-in-place directives as a valuable test of whether or not working from home is truly a good fit. For some it may be the validation needed to change up their work environment, and to find a more permanent solution for doing so. While others may now better understand what they’d be missing: the camaraderie of co-workers, the chance interactions that stimulate ideas, and, maybe that office coffee isn’t so bad after all.