Create a Work Environment at Home

April 6, 2020
Workplace
By Kelly Barlow

For a full list of resources and toolkits, check out our COVID-19 response page.

When The Clearing made the choice to institute mandatory telework in the wake of COVID-19, I was very anxious about staying productive in a 100% remote environment. I am no stranger to mobility, I work from a variety of locations(my home, client sites, or the office)regularly, based on my workload, meetings, and personal needs. However, the reality of two adults working from home with two large dogs in a small DC apartment hit hard. 

Over the last two weeks, I have been able to quiet my anxiety and stay productive by finding a workplace that is mine – only mine – and making a few small moves to help establish my home as a work environment during the day. Here are a few moves you can make to do the same. 

Five Ways to Create a Home Work Environment 

  1. Find a space that is yours. Identify a space you can make yours
    1. Clear the space of personal distractions like bills, art projects, and shopping lists 
    2.  Organize your workspace with the documents and tools you need to be productive
    3. Set up  your computer so you can easily take video calls (keep in mind what’s behind you, common areas in your home, and lighting
    4. Have earbuds, headset, etc. easily accessible in case you need to switch to them to decrease background noise
    5. Keep this space as your dedicated workspace to ensure you can jump into work each morning and walk away from it for breaks and the end of your workday 
  2. Establish a routine. Set a new work from home routine and schedule. 
    1. Find ways that help you get energized in the morning and ready to work
    2. Set up regular check-ins with your colleagues, customers, and teams to help stay connected
    3. Use your calendar and collaborative tools (e.g., Skype, MS Teams, Google Chat) to signal to your team your availability and plans for the day
  3. Set ground rules. Discuss what’s going to work with your spouse, kids, housemates, and yourself.
    1. Establish boundaries for spaces within the home and working hours
    2. Name and claim common space vs. personal space in your home
    3. Identify a signal  for when you are busy versus when you are available for distractions
  4. Take breaks. Remember to block time for wellness by scheduling breaks in your day.
    1. Look at your calendar each morning and block off time to take breaks to: go outside, walk the dog, have a snack, eat lunch, etc. 
    2. Use a timer or your smartwatch to give you a reminder to stand up and stretch or do a lap around your home
  5. Sign off and shut down. It can be very tempting to work late into the night now that the physical separation between work and home is blurry. 
    1. Pick a sign off time and stick with it
    2. Shut your computer down at the end of the day to remove the temptation of logging in to check something or respond to an after-hours email
    3. Turn off notifications on your smartphone 

 

With these practices in place, I have been able to get my work done, be focused in meetings, and find a balance between work and home life (maybe even more than before!). I’m continuing to be agile and adopt new ways of working and being as time progresses. Tell me about what you’re doing to stay productive, focused, and balanced at kelly.barlow@theclearing.com

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