The year is 2020. It’s day five of quarantine. You’re rationing toilet paper squares and reminiscing about the days when loaves of bread were bountiful. And although you’ve always wanted the opportunity to work from home, this is NOT what you had in mind.
What you pictured: waking up to the sounds of chirping birds, sitting on a sun-drenched patio sipping your perfectly roasted coffee while “morning” by Peer Gynt plays in the background. After your lox & cream cheese bagel is finished, you gracefully make your way over to your spacious home office and casually begin to work, in peace and quiet.
Reality: you wake up in a panic because you forgot that team Zoom call scheduled for 8:30 am (who schedules a Zoom call that early!?) You’re out of coffee filters and try to repurpose a paper towel while simultaneously dotting on the last few drops on concealer you have (oh yeah, did we mention, the team Zoom call is a video chat?) You hurriedly rush to your living room, stepping on a dog toy in the process, to prop your laptop up on that old tv tray just in time to join the call.
With COVID-19 Coronavirus in the air (literally), millions of Americans who typically go into the office every Monday through Friday are now setting up shop at home. If you’re like the majority of working-class America, this change in daily life can pose many stressful challenges. That’s why we put together this article on how to navigate working from home.
1. Start with Space
No, we aren’t talking about social distancing- we’re talking about your environment. The at-home space you’re working in can have a major effect on both your productivity and your mood.
Begin with the basics: clean your home. We know, we know, you’ve just been far too busy to focus on the dishes or that overwhelming pile of laundry that’s been building up for 2, er, 3 weeks, but when you’re working from home these small projects can lead to stress and distraction. What starts as taking 10 minutes to unload the dishwasher can easily morph into 2-hours reorganizing your kitchen cabinets. So, take some time to tidy-up.
Location is also another important factor when it comes to working at home. Where are you going to set-up shop? As tempting as it is, working from your bedroom can be isolating. Think about it: If you spend more than half of your day in one room, you’re bound to go a little stir crazy. Find the location that is most like your office environment. Work in an action-packed marketing agency? Then maybe a high-traffic area will suit you. Used to having a corner office with a view? (um, lucky you!) Then a spare bedroom or screened-in patio could work. There’s no one place that’s perfect for everyone, so take an hour or two in different locations until you find one in the Goldilocks zone- the one that’s juuusst right.
2. Get Comfortable… But Not Too Comfortable
As tempting as it is to work from beneath those brand new super soft garment-washed sheets, you’re one accidental video call away from everyone seeing the unicorn onesie you slept in. “But my bed is sooo comfy” you say? Lying in bed with a laptop can cause massive strain on your neck and shoulders.
When you’re sitting at a computer or laptop for several hours, it’s important that you be aware of your posture. Sure, your couch might be comfortable to sit on for an hour or so, but after a while, your lower back begins to ache. Typically, couches and sofas are made with comfort in mind, meaning they might be a bit too plush and lack the firmness your body needs to support your spine. Our recommendation? A dining room chair or patio chair should do the trick. If your dining room chair is made of wood or metal, use a soft throw pillow as a chair cushion to keep yourself comfortable.
And since we’re on the topic of comfort, for goodness sake change out of your pajamas! Look, we get that you have the most comfortable loungewear around and that it’s totally cute enough to walk the dog around the block in, but it’s hard to stay motivated and have work on the brain when you’re constantly wearing the same clothes you sleep in.
Believe it or not, you CAN still be comfortable while looking presentable. Women: try an active t-shirt dress. Made from fabric that has moisture-wicking and stretch, you might even be tempted to sleep in it! Guys: A brrr Performance Polo shirt is ideal. Not only does it still look like you’re dressing for the office, but men’s brrr performance polo shirts also have quick-dry technology and are proven to keep you 3 degrees cooler (perfect for when your wife turns the thermostat up to 74).
3. Stay Organized
We find one of the most difficult things to do while working from home is staying organized. It’s so easy to start work at 10 am instead of 8 am, end your day early, lose your laptop charger or forget where you set down your planner.
Our tip: Keep all work-related things together. If you have a home office, great, this shouldn’t be a struggle for you. But if your dining room table is your new desk, and you move your “office” every night to make room for dinner, it’s easy to misplace things. Grab a basket or two and keep all your work-related items in the basket. It’ll be much easier to keep track of everything when it’s in the same place.
If you find that your mind is wandering off frequently and you’re having a difficult time focusing on work, do a brain dump. Yes, you heard that right, a brain dump. Every morning before beginning your work for the day, get a piece of paper and a pen and set a timer for 5 minutes. Use that 5 minutes to write down a list of everything on your mind; it could include the chores you need to complete, friends you’d like to check up on, or even tv shows you want to stream later. Once the 5 minutes is done, place the note out of sight and get to work! This exercise will help alleviate stress and be a written reminder of the tasks you want to take on once your work is complete (because we can all be forgetful!)
4. About Those Distractio- SQUIRREL!
Whether it’s your dog barking at the squirrels outside the window or you suddenly find that your child is rummaging thought your toolbox, working from home can be stressful! Face it, the kids are out of school, doggy day care is shut down, and you haven’t spent this much one-on-one time with your significant other since your honeymoon (did he ALWAYS chew this loudly!?)
Strap up for success by keeping them busy. Rambunctious dog? A good solid rope toy for dogs and a few long-lasting chew treats should keep them quiet for a while. If your dog is a big chewer and those treats last all of 6 minutes, you can fill a Kong toy with peanut butter and freeze it for a longer-lasting way to entertain them.
Small children? Arts and crafts are great, inexpensive ways to keep the kiddos busy while they improve their art skills (A generation of mini-Rembrandts coming at ya!) If your kids don’t enjoy coloring and making dream catchers as much as you’d hoped, then create a silent scavenger hunt around the house for them. Hide as many items as you’d like and tell them they can’t speak (unless it’s an emergency, of course) until they find all the items. Hello, tranquility.
And for your significant other? Well, we can’t really help you there. Good luck!
5. Remember to Let Loose!
Hey, cut yourself some slack. Just like you, this is the first time many people are having to work from home. You’re bound to face some challenges- both mentally and physically, so remember to keep it light whenever you can.
Use your lunch break to take a walk outside or create a picnic in the backyard. If you’re feeling cooped up, throw on some high energy jams and take a 5-minute dance break or do an at-home work out to release some tension. If social distancing is causing you to feel especially isolated, facetime a friend for Happy Hour Quarantinis or find a pen pal to write letters to. And we know it can be frustrating when that coworker doesn’t put their microphone on mute and you keep hearing “Baby Shark” on repeat in the background, but put yourself in their shoes (because they’re sick of hearing it too!) And remember, we’re all in this together.
It’s an uncertain time, it’s a weird time. But we’re here together, and we’re here for you. Many Southern Tide employees are all working from home and figuring it out one day at a time, just like you. Remember to stay patient, spread kindness and joy whenever you can, and take a few deep breaths. We’ll be doing the same. The show must go on, and we know you’re going to crush it!