So You’ve Been Asked to Work From Home

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Sickness or not, there’s still work to be done.

With the coronavirus outbreak rattling the global economy, more and more companies big and small have begun asking their employees to work from home in order to prevent the virus from spreading. Now, putting aside the existential horror of viral outbreaks for a moment, working from home can be pleasant. However, if it’s going to be like this for an extended period of time, you’re going to want to be aware of a few things.

Prepare
Once the work-from-home stretch starts, it’s probably going to be tough to get into your office. In order to prevent that need from arising, make sure you have everything you could possibly need to work from home. If you keep your work data separate from your home data, you’ll want to copy all of that down. This includes stuff like bookmarks and phone numbers. If you use a laptop at work, then that will make things easier, since you can just take it home. If you have any physical forms, make sure you have those on you as well. Most offices use less physical forms these days, but if you know there will be an exchange of forms at some point, make sure you have a means of sending things like a fax or a scanner.
Designate a workspace
Here’s some free advice for you: try not to work at home in the same place you usually relax in. Maintaining a good work-life balance is hard enough when you have to go to an office; if you start working in a spot that’s usually reserved for fun and relaxation, things are going to get blurry and uncomfortable (plus your butt will get sore). Anywhere you can go in your home with a flat surface and internet access is fine. Once work is done for the day, put your work computer away and go back to your comfy spot.

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Communicate
It’s often easier to communicate in the office because your coworkers are right next to you (unless it’s a really big office, of course). When that ease is removed, you’ll need to set up a reliable alternative means of office communication. Ask your boss to set up an office Slack account if you don’t already have one so everyone can keep in touch without blowing up each others’ phones. If you need something time sensitive from someone else, make sure to let them know quickly and concisely.
Be flexible with schedules
This one’s more for bosses and managers. Working hours get a little fuzzy when everyone’s working from home. People might take breaks to spend time with their families, or if they’re sick, they might stop early to rest. If you’re a manager, you need to be flexible here; as long as all of the important work gets done on time, it doesn’t really matter whether everyone’s at their computers from nine to five on the dot. Everyone should have specified hours for when they definitely will or will not be available, and they need to make sure to keep those up-to-date. Additionally, if remote meetings need to be held, make sure everyone involved has the means to connect to them and knows precisely when it’s going down and what they’ll need to know. You’re going to want to give precise start and end times.

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4 weeks ago