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7 tips on making a work-from-home order a success

Coronavirus has many employees telecommuting for the first time. Here are ways to help it work for you

If you live in one of an ever-growing number of states or countries around the world, there’s a good possibility that you are or will soon find yourself working from somewhere other than your normal place of business.

As part of the effort to stem the spread of coronavirus — aka COVID-19 — many lawmakers and public health officials worldwide are issuing shelter-in-place orders and mandating “social distancing” to the furthest extent possible.

And with cafes, libraries and other popular telecommuting spots temporarily closed, for many people, that means working from home. In some cases, this could be the first time that you’ve been allowed to skip driving to the office and perform your daily duties from a spare bedroom, a sofa or the kitchen table.

For some people, working from home is the perfect arrangement. The rigid workday schedule is replaced by one that allows for hobbies, family obligations and free time with the trust that work will still get done — if not during the typical 9-5 schedule. If you do your best thinking at 8 p.m., working from home can allow you to flourish.

But working from home isn’t for everybody. Some people miss the comradery of co-workers and the defined workspaces of cubicles and desks. They find themselves easily distracted by the comforts of home life, spouses or children. A regular schedule and clear separation between work and home benefits these types of employees.

And some people simply can’t work from home due to the site-specific nature of their jobs.

Regardless of which type of worker you are, the current health crisis means that you’ll likely be attempting to perform your duties remotely for some time. The good news is productivity doesn’t have to suffer because you’re stuck at home. With some preparation and planning, you can make the most of your time away from the office. Here are some tips for making a successful transition from office worker to telecommuting professional.

Find a dedicated spot for your job. 

If you ask many longtime telecommuting employees, they’ll say that a key to ensuring productivity is setting up a dedicated home office. Not everyone has the luxury of a spare bedroom with room for a computer desk and ergonomic chair, but having a work spot does help you focus. It reminds you that there’s a place for work and another for relaxing. That means avoid doing your work on the couch. Whether it’s a folding desk or just a TV tray, having furniture that says “This is for work” will help put your mind in a more productive state.

Ensure friends and family know you’re at work.

Whether you have a spouse and children or just roommates, they need to know that your job takes precedence at certain times. That may mean asking them not to call or text you during the day, or just requesting that they stay out of your way at home until a project is done. The work you’re doing at home is just as important as the work done in an office.

It’s fine to take time talk to friends and family during the day, but you want to ensure that they respect your need to focus when you’re working.

Dress for success.

Equally as important as having a dedicated spot for your workspace is dressing like you’re ready for work in it. That doesn’t mean that you have to don a three-piece suit to telecommute (although you can if you want to) but does it mean not staying in your robe and slippers until 2:30 p.m. You want to be ready in case your boss asks you to jump on a video conference call.  In addition, the ritual of dressing and getting ready for work will put you in a frame of mind to be your most professional and productive.

Stay in touch.

Communication is important in almost every job, but it’s especially important when you aren’t in close proximity to your supervisors or co-workers. Keep everyone updated regularly on your projects and progress and sign up for optional meetings or conference calls. Be sure to give your opinion if you have insights to share. Some people still believe that co-workers who work remotely are less committed or productive than those who go into the office every day, and you want to change that impression.

Employees who contribute just as much as those who are in the office are more likely to be successful at alternative working arrangements.

Take a break.

It might seem tougher if your community is encouraging sheltering in place, but most medical experts still recommend getting outside for fresh air and exercise as long as you practice social distancing. A short walk or a chance to stretch will perk you up, clear your head and help you get back to your work duties with renewed energy.

Consider having a set schedule.

With coronavirus outbreaks closing schools and restaurants, upending the lives of many people, it may be difficult to create a regular work schedule, but it’s often critical for maintaining a healthy work-life balance. This is especially true for people who work best in more traditional workplace environments. Just because working from home allows you to start work at 6 a.m. or end it after 10:30 p.m. doesn’t mean you should. In fact, long, unstructured workdays are a fast track to burnout.

If you think of the workday as 9 to 5, there’s no reason that must change if you’re working from home. Start work at the normal time each day and close your office when it’s time to go “home” — even if that just means shutting down the computer and relocating to the couch. It’s OK to relax; the workday is done.

5-hour ENERGY® Shots

Take a 5-hour ENERGY® shot.

Even if you follow all these suggestions, sometimes you still need a little help with feeling alert and getting through the work-from-home day. That’s when you should take one of many available flavors of 5-hour ENERGY®. Available in regular or extra strength, they provide a feeling of energy when you need it most. And they come in 16 flavors, so you’re sure to find one that you like. Be sure to keep a variety on hand.

No one knows exactly how long the coronavirus crisis will last, but following these tips will help you make the most of your new work arrangements.

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