In March 2020, when many of us were suddenly thrust into the world of remote work, we thought it would be just a couple of weeks and were willing to make do with whatever we had on hand. Now that it’s a long term or, for some, permanent workplace reality. That means that even if you work for an employer, you need to be your own manager or at least be prepared to advocate for yourself.
How To Work Remotely for the Long-Term:
Check Your Ergonomics
Slumping on the sofa with your laptop perched on your mid-section is not going to cut it long term. Identify the area of your home that will act as your office. If you have a spare bedroom or other space with a door, that’s ideal, particularly if you share your home with family or friends. At a minimum, you need a sturdy worktable and a chair you can sit comfortably on for eight-plus hours plus per day. This simple checklist from OSHA can provide guidance on what you need to for a healthy home office.
Upgrade Your Equipment
The small laptop that was easy to fit onto a coffee shop table or a dusty and grumbling desktop were fine when your work from home duties were limited to updating the occasional spreadsheet after dinner or checking email on your day off, but now that you depend on your technology, you’ll need something more reliable and robust. Your company may be willing to provide equipment or reimbursement, but if not, it’s worth investing in what you can afford. A full-size keyboard and monitor can make a small laptop more usable. Upgrading the memory in your desktop is a cost-effective way to improve its performance. Typically, all it takes is less than fifty dollars and a half an hour of time, even for an amateur. Google and YouTube will teach you all you need to know.
Set Your Hours
Be realistic about when you can work effectively. If you need flexibility, talk to your manager. As long as work gets done and customers taken care of, in many companies, it doesn’t matter if you start work at five in the morning to get a jump on your day or take advantage of the quiet late evening hours to knock out focused work. As schools and daycare facilities open, you can return to more typical hours if you are still working from home, but you may find that you get more done in pockets of focused activity. It is important that you build downtime into your day. Take a walk, break for lunch, make time for exercise at the start or end of your day. One of the dangers of working from home is the inability to turn off at the end of the day. This is not sustainable in the long term, your mental and physical health will suffer and in all likelihood, your work will too.
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