While working from home is not a new concept, concerns over COVID-19 are making many workplaces offer employees the option of working from home. With the virus continuing to spread, it’s expected that businesses might need to be prepared for its employees working from home for extended periods – we’re talking entire weeks versus one or two days per week. This might be wholly new to many of us!

I’ve had plenty of experience working from home as a freelance travel writer/editor and also spent swathes of time working remotely on my travel tech startup. The biggest challenge will be working alone – no human contact! Further, working from home requires both discipline and the trust of your colleagues. 

Let me share a couple of things you can do to make working from home a little better.

1. Don’t work in your PJs

Really don’t. While it might seem tempting to do so, rolling out of bed and getting straight onto your computer in your PJs doesn’t help get your head into the right workspace. You’ll end up being in a funk and caught between wanting to crawl back into bed versus needing to respond to emails. And we all know that the bed is definitely more appealing than emails…. especially when it’s dark and cold outside.

Comfy clothes? Yes. PJs, no. Personally, I dress as if I was going into work. Granted, we are pretty casual at work. 🙂 

2. Set up your workspace

By workspace, I don’t mean the couch or your bed. Working from the couch/bed means you’ll be stuck in a weird space where you can’t really properly relax nor work! Try to replicate your workspace as close to work as possible. Get a good comfortable chair and work at a desk. If you use a monitor at work, plug into one at home. 

3. Stick to your routine

This means getting up and doing what you usually do before you head into work. For most, it’d involve brushing your teeth, having a shower, making coffee and breakfast. Don’t skip hygiene-related routines just because you’re working from home! Me? I even do my hair if I’m working from home. You never know when you might be expected to take a client video call.

4. Take breaks

We all take coffee and lunch breaks at work. You should do the same when working from home. Try to go for a walk around the block at lunchtime to get some air and circulation going.

5. Stay engaged with your colleagues

Thankfully, technology helps us stay connected. Slack is now de facto for many, but it’s also important to get on phone or video calls. If you have an opportunity to pick up the phone to speak with a colleague instead of Slacking/emailing, do it!

6. Communicate, communicate, communicate

When everyone is working from home, being super communicative is really important. After all, you need to remain accountable to your colleagues, clients and bosses. Check what your expectations are at work and make sure you meet them. Don’t assume that your job is done when that email is sent – follow up as you would in the office…except via Slack or a phone call.

Use that calendar function in your email application – that way, you’re committed to meetings, conversations and a schedule.

At Green Hat, we’ve set up our expected response matrix as such:

  • Phone/mobile – immediate (of course, if we get you while you’re in the loo, return the call when you’re back at your desk)
  • Slack – within an hour
  • Email – within three hours (unless marked urgent…in which case a Slack message and phone call might be in order)

Before I sign off, you might be interested in this related blog I wrote last week about ways businesses can weather the COVID-19 pandemic.

Well, I’m off to check my emails. Catch you on Slack or LinkedIn.

Six tips to help you work better from home (during a pandemic)

Shawn Low
Shawn has more than 15 years of content and marketing experience, working both client- and agency-sides. His diverse career has seen him work across both the B2C and B2B segments, as well as with start-ups. As Head of Content and Social for Green Hat, Shawn will drive effective content in order to meet strategic, commercial and business needs.