March 14, 2020


As the world self-quarantines to avoid exposure of the outbreak, companies are encouraging staff to work from home. Here is a compilation of our top tips for those wading into working from home for the first time:

When you first start working from home, you may feel a bit more relaxed. No boss lurking around the corner, no colleagues coming to knock to “ask a quick question.” It’s peace and quiet. But this complacency does not lead to productivity. While we’re not suggesting putting on the suit and tie, definitely change out of the PJs. If you’re dressed as if you will be going out into the world, you will mentally be ready for work. Also – as much as possible, keep the same working hours. Your working from home is temporary, not permanent and it will be less of a shock if you maintain the same schedule during this transition.

For the first few days, you may think, “Finally! I get to catch up on errands and laundry.” Well, forget errands because you’re supposed to be working, not out and about. Second, you may think multi-tasking while working is fantastic but if you’re not used to this, the dryer may easily become a distraction. Or worse yet – a frustration because now you’re trying to simultaneously balance work AND the house. Keep the laundry to after hours, just as you always had before. And the bright side? The time you’re not spending commuting is the time you can spend folding socks while watching “Love is Blind” on Netflix.

You know how dogs bark if they know there will be thunder and lightning? It’s the same thing for conference calls. While we’re at it, lump in the kids too because invariably, the VERY moment you begin the call is when your child’s emotions will explode. Kids and dogs aren’t dumb: they know you have a job to do. The tip? Find the most remote part of the house that neither Fido nor Junior can (easily) reach. Maybe put the dog in the backyard and then move to the front of the house for your call. Turn on the TV and pour out a box of cereal for your child. Whatever it will take to keep them safe and quiet for an hour – do it.

If you have a home where there is space to solely dedicate to working – do it. Stay out of the bedroom because bringing in the glare of the laptop may affect your sleep patterns and slouching over your computer in bed could lead to neck pain. Think about it: you would literally be waking up in your office. If working in your bedroom is the only option, consider buying (or borrowing) a partition to divide the room or a laptop stand to make you sit upright to work The kitchen table isn’t a great option either since the goal is to keep your workspace as separate as possible from your personal space.

If you are used to weekly in-person meetings, keep the schedule but use Zoom or Skype. Your team will want to stay in touch and seeing one another will maintain that connection. But remember – hide the dogs and the kids. You don’t want anyone lurking in the background.

You’re working from home, but don’t be tempted to mindlessly eat junk food throughout the day. Not only does this lead to weight gain, but the sugar highs followed by the inevitable crashes are not the best for staying focused. Also, this is the time to stay healthy – your immune system needs you. Create a “healthy snack shelf” in your pantry. Schedule a lunchtime versus trying to eat over your laptop while working. (Ew, crumbs.) You can even get a colleague to be your Skype or Zoom lunch buddy which will keep you accountable for your food choices. 

Here is something you could never do in an office: turn off the Wifi. If you have a mountain of emails to respond to, turn off the Wifi and respond at your leisure. This will cut down on distractions and interruptions… and reduce the chances of hopping on social media for a bit. For phones, do not disturb mode is great for stopping notifications, alerts and calls from making any noise, vibrating or lighting up your phone screen.

Working from home will be a temporary situation for many. Before you know it, you will be back in the office with people knocking at your door once again. But in the meantime, now is your opportunity to finish that project you put on the back burner without distraction, making the transition back into the office much easier.

~ Marina Nicola