VBN has shifted to work at home operations for its Virtual Assistants to comply with COVID-19 quarantine protocols. So our previously office-based VAs are now adapting to the new arrangement. For some, this is their first time working at home. While for others this might not be their first rodeo. And countless others throughout the world are going through similar experiences, shifting and adapting to a new work pattern.
Working at home can feel like a whole new world. Especially since the transition was so sudden, thrusted as a necessity due to the coronavirus pandemic.
So here’s some advice to help make the transition to working from home goes well, to help you with the job and maintain your wellness:
Dress For Work
But you’re working at home, you say. There’s no need to wear work clothes, you say. You could save up on laundry by wearing house clothes, you say. Disabuse yourself of those notions. The temptation to stay in your pajamas all day, but if you give in to it the result will be a slower and less productive pace of work.
While you don’t need to dress formally as though you were really going to work, the mere act of changing clothing signals your mind that it’s time to wake up and get to work. It also serves as a reminder of your old pre-work routine, preparing you for a day in the office. Moreover, it’s scientifically supported too, as according to the concept of embodied cognition your thoughts and perceptions are affected by the sensory inputs your body receives.
This dressing process also applies to other tasks like taking a shower, brushing your hair, even putting on makeup if it’s part of the routine. While you don’t need to go all the way as though you’re really working in the office, these little vestiges of the old routine will help you adapt to working at home. Likewise, they’re also part of self-care and are healthy habits.
These will also come in handy for surprise video conferences.
Don’t Work On The Bed!
Or designate a proper work space or office area… that’s not on the bed. You need to keep work and home life separate. Which is easier said than done when you are working at home. Moreover, if you’re working right on your bed, then the reverse of the whole “get dressed to feel ready for work” effect happens… namely, you will be drawn to your bed, the urge to sleep or roll around or whatever threatening to overpower you, absorbing you into the sheets and mattress.
This will really scramble your activity patterns. So to ensure you get work done, and likewise be in the right mood for leisure and other out-of-work activities after your shift, designate proper areas for working and areas for non-work. You don’t want the signals to get mixed up.
Otherwise, aside from wanting to take a snooze during work hours, you might very well end up mulling about emails and reports when you’re trying to get some shuteye.
Even if your accommodations aren’t spacious, you can still have a zone that’s dedicated for work. With comfortable seating positions, proper lighting, distance from other temptations aside from the bed, but nonetheless convenient enough for amenities to be close by.
Define Your Work Hours
Likewise, have clear delineations for your work hours. This will allow you to maintain your usual output with minimal disruption. It will also make it easier for you to shift back to the office setup when this is all over. Moreover, if your work entails collaborating with co-workers, this will make reaching you (or reaching your colleagues) easier compared to an irregular schedule.
If you are living with others, setting work hours will also mean you won’t step on each others’ toes. You don’t want to be working on the living room table when others are having R&R, or using the dining table when the rest are having meals.
Transitions and Intermissions
Between prepping for work and actually working, there’s the transition time. Likewise when you’re heading home. And during work there are also breaks.
So if you used to listen to music or read books on the way to work, go on with that habit even if you’re not commuting. Or use that time to play with your pets or chit chat with housemates. Add a workout routine or do a hobby.
Likewise, at the end of the day, do something after work to unwind before you “come back home.” You don’t want the transition from work to home and back again to be so abrupt. It might cause whiplash or erode the separation between these activities. By unwinding, through listening to music or watching a show or something else, you’re preparing yourself for what comes after work. Your evening routine. After all, you want to be ready to sit down and enjoy dinner.
Takeaway for Working at Home
Without these separations, you might have a hard time getting into a work mindset due to the relaxation of being at home and chilling. And, on the other hand, work stress might also seep into your R&R and leisure activities. Work and life need to be balanced, likewise with stress and workplace anxieties. Clothing, positioning and timing are ways you can manage your activity patterns. And hone it in a way that will be optimized for your wellness.
But wait, there’s more. Stay tuned, as we’ll delve further into this subject in our next blog post!