Coronavirus: Best Practices for Working From Home, According to a Six-Figure Social Media Entrepreneur
As businesses shift to remote working setups, here are top tips for staying productive and connected.
This week, thousands of in-office workers will experience their first foray into the world of at-home work, as large and small businesses try to manage the threat of COVID-19 by asking their employees to work remotely.
And while a LinkedIn study from October 2019 found that 82% of workers wished they could work from home at least part of the time: Take it from me, it’s not as easy as it looks.
As a social media entrepreneur who has built a six-figure business from my home office over the last decade, here are my top tips (and learnings) for making your home — ahem — work for you.
1. Stick to a schedule
One of the most wonderful things about working from home is that you get to enjoy the comfort of your home all day.
It's also one of the most dangerous things about working from home.
Consider beginning and ending work at the same time each day – the way you would if you were at the office. This will help you separate professional time and personal time – and make it easier to detach both emotionally and physically at the end of the day. You can even log your day and daily tasks if that helps you.
During the day, give yourself some physical distance from your workspace by taking a lunch break – even if that means you’re sitting at your kitchen table or listening to a podcast for 30 minutes. I find this makes me feel more refreshed and ready to dive back in when I return to my desk.
No matter what you do during your at-home “off time,” stay away from laundry or the dishes in the sink. Truly take this time to mentally unwind.
2. Give yourself space
Don't let your dining room table become the source for stacked papers, folders - or God forbid, a printer.
A dedicated workspace (ideally one you where you can close the door) is a solid way to keep work and life separate – and ensure you're not constantly reminded of your deadlines while sitting down for dinner.
At the end of the day, close the door (if you can), walk away, and try not to return to your workspace until the following morning.
3. Look the part
When you work from home, appearing professional can be just as important as when you work in a traditional office. (Also, it's 2020, and there's simply no excuse for a poorly lit video conference with bad audio.)
Invest in a LED ring light (for as little as $25 on Amazon), a couple of plants, a Zoom or BlueJeans video conferencing account — and a good microphone. You'll be surprised how far this goes during video calls. (During a recent Zoom, I was told I looked like a beauty YouTuber - a major compliment in the social media business.)
4. Build boundaries
When it comes to working from home, I often encourage people to "build" and not "set" boundaries – because it's truly a process.
It took me years to figure out that even though I work from home, I don't have to answer an email at 9:00 p.m. when I'm sitting on the couch with my husband watching This Is Us. (Trust me, I'm way too fragile to respond to anything after that show anyway.)
If an emergency arises, you can, of course, make an exception, but try to limit your work to business hours only, even if that means having a template reply on-hand. One of my personal favorites: “I will be happy to look at this tomorrow with a fresh set of eyes!”
Building boundaries can be even more important when you work from home, and your environment can often always "feel" like work.
Natalie Zfat is a writer and social media expert who curates original content and videos. She has partnered with iconic brands like Rolling Stone, Food Network, American Express and Samsung.