5 Tips for Working Remotely During COVID-19:
I am a 21-year veteran of SCC and I’ve worked remotely for almost 20 of those years. Remote work has its perks, but it also has its challenges. To be successful working remotely you must be both disciplined and dedicated to your job. If you’re lacking in either of these areas, you’ll be more prone to getting lost in distractions.
Even for a veteran telecommuter like me working from home during the COVID-19 season has been challenging to say the least. For many of you it’s not just about having to rethink how you will get your work done from home, but the fact there are other people at home with you. This can be difficult as you’re trying to work and they can be engaging in loud or distracting behaviors. This was the case with my husband whose workplace had placed their employees on a paid hiatus for a few weeks. During this time he binge-watched every episode of Lost in Space and Dr. Smith is annoying enough without having to hear the same scenes replayed over and over because SOMEONE, who shall remain nameless, fell asleep on the couch and had to rewind what he had missed. Does this sound familiar to any of you?
My husband’s workplace has since called him back, but in the interim I had to find better ways to drown out the extra noise. Here are five tips that worked for me. Even if you live alone, these tips are helpful for drowning out other kinds of noise (lawn mowers, tree trimmers, the neighbor’s pets, etc.):
1. Control the background noise with music. I am an auditory person so I have always used controlled noise to drown out distractive noises. That said, you don’t want to play a show on the TV you are interested in because that may be distracting for you. I’m a country music fan and Florida Georgia Line and Zac Brown Band work well for me, however, for some of you playing music you enjoy might not work. Northcentral University put together a list of the types of music which are proven to help you focus. The list can be found at: https://www.ncu.edu/blog/can-music-help-you-study-and-focus.
2. Set boundaries and stick to a schedule. You don’t have to alienate family members, but you do have to remind them you need to work and you need to get stuff done. You can do so in an assertive, rather than an aggressive, way by using “I” language such as, “I have a call so please turn the TV down or off.” This is much better than, “You need to be quiet,” or “Go change the lightbulb.” Even if you live alone a schedule and setting personal boundaries can help you accomplish more and remain focused. This is particularly true if you are a fan of social media. Limiting social media to down times is a great alternative.
3. Close the door to your workspace. Place a sign on the door listing your availability – and don’t try to work from the couch (good tip even if you live alone). If you have small children, closing the door won’t work, but maybe these tips will – https://www.fastcompany.com/90478087/got-kids-try-these-tips-for-working-from-home-while-theyre-with-you.
4. Take short breaks. Remembering to get up and walk around a little is important. If you sit in one place too long you’ll become less productive and your back will begin to hurt. I like to keep an exercise band in my office with which occasionally I do stretches. The key word here is “short,” don’t allow your breaks to keep you away from your work.
5. Over-communicate. Remember, you’re not in the office face-to-face. People can’t see your body language or facial expressions. You don’t need to write a book and actually I’ve learned over the years writing too much can be counterproductive. Make sure you provide enough information though because email ping pong takes longer and wastes time. Saying what you mean and meaning what you say is important. Try to avoid lazy language such as, “ASAP” or, “at your convenience.” A better sentence might be, “If you can get me X by close of business today, here’s what I can do.” Always focus on what you can do, not what you can’t.
Internal Author: Mary Kay LaBrie, Professional Development Specialist