If you’ve been confined to working from home (WFH) during lockdown you may be getting a little weary your routine. The same Zoom calls week after week (with at least one person whose connection is on the fritz), followed by working at your computer with minimal real human interaction. As the days blur into weeks, and weeks blur into months, you might even (gasp) be starting to miss the office.
We’ve got some tips that will help brighten up your day and make the best of WFH as we continue to muddle through 2020:
By this point, you and your coworkers have probably seen far more than we ever wanted of the inside of each others’ home offices, kitchens, and children’s bedrooms (a surprisingly common setting for corporate Zoom calls). We suggest instead to consider a fun background for your fine self while you’re listening to someone talk about this week’s sales numbers.
Dress for work, at home
While the sloth chic temptation to spend your whole day in your pyjamas, sweatpants, or no pants all (looking at you, Ron), there is something to be said about taking a little bit of time to maintain a sense of normalcy and separation between work and home life. Psychology has shown that how we dress does actually affect our mood, including in our professional lives. As the adage goes, “Dress for the job you want” may not bode well for a heavy rotation holey hoodies and Crocs and socks.
While no one suggests pretending you are going to the office and donning a full corporate dress, there is evidence that just changing your clothes when you usually helps reinforce the stability of a daily routine. The key here is to wear clothes that make you feel good about yourself while you’re working, say a nice blouse or a collared shirt, rather than give into the lure of an eternal sweatshirt.
Reclaim the commute
One of the most challenging parts about working for home, especially if you’re new to it, is how it can disrupt your sense of time. For example, for many people, their workday started and ended with a commute to work. While you’re WFH that clear delineation suddenly doesn’t exist. This leaves you anywhere from minutes to a few hours of your day that are now unoccupied (or occupied by even more work).
The good news is you now have that extra commuting time – do something with it! Instead of sleeping in or squeezing in another hour of work, take that former commuting time and use go for a walk, tidy up, work out, call friends or family, or take a time-out for some extra self-care.
Set boundaries and routines
Working from home can wreak havoc on your schedule. Instead of having a defined beginning and end to your workday, your workday just never ends. Plus there are lots of distractions at home which can lead to interruptions and procrastination. While it’s harder to draw physical boundaries between work and home when working from home, make sure you give yourself clear boundaries for when your work starts and ends. Set breaks to stretch and move around, and when you can eat lunch, have a coffee refill, or indulge in a snack. And don’t be afraid to log off at a regular time so the workday ends and you can destress and focus on personal time.
Having a routine will help to organize your day and accomplish tasks while providing some structure that will help motivate yourself.
Start a happy hour
For some, the lockdown has given space to recognize how much of their life at the office involved socializing or casually interacting with coworkers, and how much you may (or may not) miss that interaction. One idea that’s become popular is the idea of a coffee break or happy hour over Zoom (or other video chat) – no work talk, just hanging out and talking with your coworkers while enjoying a beverage or snack. Provided people are available and willing, these are pretty easy to do. Set a day and time, and invite them to join in. If you want to go a little further, you could suggest a theme or simple activity that people can join in, like a game or watching a TV show together. Keep it casual and optional, and set an end time so you’re not on the hook for hosting the party longer than you want to.
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