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Tips and tricks for working from home

Monday, March 23 2020

The world we currently live in is unprecedented. The modern world has not seen a pandemic like this and with it comes a lot of changes. For some, much like the unchartered territory we’re in, working from home may also be strange and new. 

From dealing with distractions to keeping a routine there are a number of ways you can keep your sanity while also adhering to physical distancing. Finding the right balance for yourself will require a little bit of trial and error, but to start with we’ve put together the following tips and tricks for working from home.

Create a routine

Whether your routine starts with a workout first thing in the morning followed by coffee and work or rolling straight out of bed onto your laptop, it’s important to create a routine in your day. When you work from home you are your own manager and structuring your day much as you would at an office helps keep you from distractions as well as burnout. 

“Using an online calendar like Google Calendar or Outlook and scheduling your day with tasks, meetings and personal time will help keep you focused and allow you to shift gears when you need to,” said Emily Battler from our Toronto office.

Act like you are going into the office

“Mentally creating a separation between your “office” and your house can make you more productive and help you keep work at work,” said Hannah Reichbart from our Calgary office. 

When working from home it can help to do all of the things you would do to normally go into the office. Have a shower, make coffee, get dressed. This can help create some normalcy to your day and help keep you focused.

Create a dedicated workspace

Acting like you are going to the office is made easier when you have a dedicated workspace complete with a desk and comfy chair. Instead of camping out on the couch or in your bed (areas normally mentally associated with leisure time) create a dedicated space in your house where you can work.

“Everyone’s house is different, but even if you can set a desk in the corner of a room it helps create some separation from home and work,” said Matt Beauchamp from our Calgary office.

Create clear expectations with anyone you share your home with

Of course, this can be easier said than done if you have toddlers running around your house - just ask this BBC anchor - but make sure you vocalize clear expectations for family, friends, spouses and roommates to respect your space during work hours. Just because you are working from home doesn’t mean that you are suddenly available all day, every day. 

Use technology for human connection

During these times of physical distancing, we don’t need to be cut off from social contact, and technology can help immensely with that. Instant messaging tools and video conferencing tools like Zoom and Skype make it easier to stay connected with co-workers and to gain a feeling of social solidarity and support. Whether you’re working or connecting with friends - avoid distraction and multitasking. We even quit our email program while having group meetings, allowing us to be more present with our team! 

Take clear breaks and get out of the house

Staring at all of the distractions available in your house can make it easy to just hunker down and work, work, work so you can go watch tv or play with your kids, but doing this is a surefire way to lead to burnout. 

“Don’t let the guilt of being at home prevent you from taking breaks - there will always be more work,” said Deepa Pillay from our Victoria office. 

Schedule breaks into your day and use them to not only step away from your desk but also to step outside. Getting fresh air, sunlight and enjoying nature has been scientifically proven to boost moods and will help you stay more focused and productive when you do go back to work. Remember that getting out of the house is for exercise, not socialization. 

Work when you are at your peak

Everyone’s energy and focus ebbs and flows throughout the day. If your company and schedule allow, capitalizing on your most productive hours - whenever those may be - can allow you to get more work done and to integrate your work-life balance for greater harmony.  Take advantage of this new flexibility - find your own rhythm.   

Pick an end to each day

One of most people’s worries about working from home is being able to delineate between work life and home life. As we mentioned scheduling your day and creating a dedicated workspace can help, but additionally picking a definitive end to your day will allow you to create separation. When you worked in an office, seeing your co-workers pack up for the day signaled an end to the workday, however, while at home it can be easy to lose track of time. Respect other’s start and end times - contact your coworkers during their work hours, not before or after. 

“Set an alarm, or schedule the end of your day in a calendar and make sure that time is clearly articulated to your co-workers as well as your family/friends/roommates,” said Kelsey Millman from the Beattie Vancouver office. 

We’re here to help

Please know that during these unprecedented times we are all in this together. We at Beattie Tartan will continue to help and support our community as the situation develops. If you need help, no ask is too much. From internal and external communications to getting stories out to the media or providing advice, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’ve got your back.