Covid-19 has sent the majority of American workers home. While we at Boulo have always promoted working from home, it was generally assumed that the children were in school, and you were the only adult in the house during work hours. So here we all are, trying to navigate a new world of flexible and productive work at home with kiddos who demand attention and have needs while also working alongside a partner who is trying to navigate the waters alongside you. This transition can be very disorienting for sure! Here are Boulo’s tips on how to successfully work from home and adapt to remote work.
Set Low Expectations
There’s an adjustment period that everyone will experience. It is also going to take you longer than expected to find a schedule that works with so many moving parts in one household. The more quickly you can lower your expectations (at first), the better you will feel about what you have accomplished (which is probably more than you think). Try this simple exercise to measure how efficient you have been: At the end of your day, write down all the to-do items you conquered with work and home then mark through them. Feel a sense of accomplishment each time you strike through a task!
Create a Designated Workspace
If you don’t have an office, create a designated workspace that allows you to be away from the center of the house where the kids like to play. Space for some is an issue, and there may not be a nook to create a legitimate space. If you can make a kitchen island work, then try that at first. If things get too chaotic, simply retreat to a bedroom. Prop your laptop on a pillow and get to work.
Create an Efficient Schedule
With kids at home, you will be lucky to accomplish long stretches of work at a time. Getting up early or working late may be the best opportunity to tackle work uninterrupted, but you may have clients, customers or team-members who need you during the day. Schedule your in-person tasks together and get them knocked out. This will allow you to be flexible with the rest of your work and create a schedule that works for you.
Don’t Distract Yourself with Household Chores
Women are natural multi-taskers, and your home is a lot less tidy than your office. It can be so tempting to load the dishwasher, pick up toys or do a load of laundry in between work tasks. Yet, you don’t do these things while you are away from home working. Going from work task to home task and back again can lead to burnout and can quickly make you lose focus. This may be a good time to get the kids to help with the chores while they have more time on their hands.
Get to Know Technology
You are quickly going to realize how many in-person meetings that have been wasting your time can be tackled quickly via email, text, Voxer, Marco Polo, Zoom, Skype, Messenger, and Slack. And these are just a few! The possibilities for using technology to work remotely are endless and efficient. But you need to know how to use them and use them well. For video calls, check your microphone, speakers and video camera on your computer. Test with a friend or colleague to make sure you are all set. Don’t forget to make sure you are in a clutter-free and quiet space while you are on a video conference. The rest of your house may look like a tornado blew through, but the area around you should look pristine.
Sometimes you Need to Set your Phone Aside
This advice doesn’t change much from the office to your home. But with all of the other distractions you may be experiencing at home, put your phone away during your designated work times so you can be more efficient. Let your co-workers know they can reach you via email and start tackling your work.
Plan Out Your Day the Night Before
Writing out a plan the night before is a helpful exercise that allows you to get rid of the clutter in your head. You will get a better night’s sleep (which your whole family will appreciate) and be ready to tackle the day when you wake up in the morning. This also sets expectations between you and your partner, since you both may be working from home. You can plan out a schedule that allows you to swap parenting duties, making you both feel better about the crazy situation you find yourselves in these days.
Communicate with your Spouse
This goes along with the tip above, but it’s worth repeating. You will not get through these changes well if you are not communicating with each other and working together. You are on the same team! Switching shifts, setting expectations as a family, tackling mealtime, and dividing household chores will lighten the load for you both.
Set Expectations with Kids
Your kids are having a hard time with this change as well. They miss their routine, extra-curriculars, and their friends. Talk to them about the changes you are both experiencing and let them take charge of their day as well. This will give them confidence to tackle school assignments, do some reading, and engage in independent play or projects without your constant presence. This obviously depends on the age of your children, but this is the perfect opportunity to let them learn to be more independent and to understand that Mommy has responsibilities that still need her attention.
Don’t be Afraid of Screen Time
We all need to keep our sanity here. You may have to relax your restrictions on screen time, especially if you need the kids to be occupied while you take an important call. Screen time can be a great opportunity for learning, and there are so many educational companies currently waiving subscription fees to watch their content during the Covid-19 outbreak. A quick Google search pulls up a ton of resources.
Hopefully, these tips will help you adjust quickly to working from home. It’s certainly an adjustment for everyone, but it’s a change in lifestyle that can be accomplished more easily than you think!