As someone who's been a full-time freelance writer for years, I can tell you that I really enjoy working from home. But that setup is definitely not for everyone. For one thing, it can be hard to stay focused when you're suddenly stuck in your home environment and distractions abound. It's also easy to go stir crazy, get bored, and succumb to feelings of loneliness.
Unfortunately, the spread of COVID-19 is causing many employers to shut down their offices and move employees to a remote setup. It's a decision that can not only protect workers, but also ensure that they don't lose out on income during this time.
But that doesn't mean it's easy. If you're worried about the idea of being cooped up at home with your laptop for weeks on end, here are a few tips for retaining your sanity.
1. Have a routine
Though working from home might seem unusual, one way to overcome that feeling is to stick to your regular job-related routine. Log onto your computer at the same time you normally would in the morning, take your lunch break when you'd normally step out of the office, and shut down in the evening as per your general schedule. Maintaining the routine you're used to will help you feel more settled given your current set of circumstances.
2. Use technology to stay in touch
Working from home can be an isolating experience, but the good news is that technology makes it easier than ever to stay in touch. Use your company's internal chat app to check in with colleagues and see how they're doing. You can even start group channels to communicate with three, four, or more people at a time, which is a good option if you're part of a team.
At the same time, don't feel pressured to substitute online chat with live conversations. If your office normally serves as a social outlet for you and you miss the sound of other people's voices, call them and talk about the projects you're collaborating on rather than hash out details over a computer.
3. Maintain your regular meeting schedule
If you're someone who's usually tasked with calling meetings -- because you're a manager or leading a project -- keep that up while your company has gone remote. Doing so will help you stay on track and make it easier for everyone involved to stay connected. Videoconferencing is probably your best bet in this regard, but if there are no visuals to share, regular phone conferences also work.
4. Take the opportunity to learn new things
You may have a bit more free time on your hands once you move over to a work-from-home setup. If that's the case, use your new arrangement as an opportunity to boost certain job skills or learn new things that make you a more valuable employee. Expanding your horizons will help you stay engaged at a time when that could otherwise prove difficult.
Some people love working from home, but if you're not one of them, it could make for some difficulties, especially if you've been asked to do so on an indefinite basis. And while you may get down about your situation from time to time, remember this: Some people don't have the option or luxury to work from home, largely because their jobs just don't allow for it.
Those workers risk losing weeks of pay, falling behind on their bills, and struggling to recover for months. As such, keep reminding yourself that while working from home may not be ideal, it's allowing you to keep collecting your paycheck.