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Four Steps to (Effectively) Work from Home

Four Steps to (Effectively) Work from Home
Harrison Fant, CFP®, AIF®
April 14, 2020

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant changes to everyday life as we know it.  One of the most prominent change is the push for employees to work from home (WFH) rather than continue to operate out of shared spaces.  For many young professionals, working from home – at least part time – is nothing new.  I’ve talked with several friends who have transitioned from working at home two to three days per week to full-time, and even more who were already 100% WFH.  But for the rest of us who are venturing into a work from home routine for the first time, it’s important to take steps to maintain both our health and sanity.  Below are four steps I’ve found helpful in combating some of the common pitfalls of WFH:

  1. Exercise regularly. I put this at the top of the list because it is arguably the easiest to overlook when working from home.  Many of us “commute” from the bedroom to the living room/office/kitchen and stay there for the rest of the day.  In a time when going to the gym isn’t an option, I’ve found the best alternative is to exercise when you would be commuting to and from work each day.  That may mean morning and afternoon walks/runs around your neighborhood or, if you’re stuck indoors, an online workout class.  Many premium workout subscription services are offering free classes during periods of lockdown, and there is a huge variety of options available on YouTube to help keep you as active as possible while social distancing.
  2. Don’t start your work day in your PJs. I’ve heard many people joke that being in your pajamas is one of the biggest perks of working from home, but research has shown that doing so is a quick way to kill your productivity.  As it turns out, “dress for success” is more than just a corporate catchphrase – dressing for work as if you were in the office helps put you into the right mindset for work.  Being in presentable clothing also ensures you’re prepared when your boss requests an impromptu Zoom call for the team.
  3. Stick to your schedule and avoid work creep. Many people – both coworkers and clients – assume that you working from home means that you’re always available.  After all, your office has clearly-posted hours operating hours, but your home-office does not.  That is why it’s so important when working from home that you set a daily work schedule and clearly communicate it to your teammates.  For example, just because you no longer have a 45-minute commute in the morning does not mean you should necessarily log on 45-minutes earlier each day (see #1 above).  Operating from home means that your work is always nearby, and it can easily invade your personal life.  You and your team will be grateful for everyone shutting down their laptops and setting their work apps to “away” at the end of the day.
  4. Limit social media and news intake. Even in normal times (when we’re all in offices and not in the midst of a pandemic), social media can be a giant time-suck.  For many of us, social media is meant to be a way to stay connected to friends and family but, unfortunately, it also tends to spread misinformation and focus on the emotional aspects of stressful situations like the one we’re in now.  The 24/7 news cycle we live in has taken a similar approach throughout this crisis, with most outlets trying to elicit an emotional response in order to attract more viewers (read: ad dollars).  I’ve found that watching the news around the clock doesn’t provide any more, or better, information than you get from briefly checking in a couple of times per day.  Limiting excessive consumption of social media and the news, particularly during your work day, can help keep you as focused and productive as possible.

Working from home is convenient, comfortable and sometimes necessary, but remote work comes with its fair share of common downsides.  Whether you’re new to this experience or are a WFH veteran, navigating the current coronavirus crisis can make it hard to sustain a healthy mind, body and work/life balance.  Following the four steps outlined here can help with both your work productivity and your personal wellbeing throughout these difficult times. Be on the look out for more tips from the YPFIT™ team!

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