Lifestyle — April 24, 2020 at 12:00 pm

Inside These Four Walls

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By Melanie Robitaille, Sr. Staff Writer and Graphic Designer

As many retreated inside to ride out one of the most extraordinary times in history, anyone still able to work has realized a long-time dream of most employees, the ability to work from home.

Within weeks of making this drastic adjustment from one workspace to another, the dreamy façade begins to give way to reality, as people become accustomed to the challenges of working remotely that they never thought of before. It quickly becomes evident that this is not an arrangement suited for everyone.

Aside from the initial hurdles of establishing technology with an IT professional or one’s own savvy, along with setting up a functional workspace, it then becomes a test of self-discipline in a marathon of monotony and self-isolation. With today’s altered business landscape here are some tips to help with the transition.

Build your environment – a workspace is as much about function as it is about form. Create a workspace with a reliable internet connection and equipment to do your job, but it should also be comfortable, inviting and esthetically pleasing. Anyone can throw a computer, printer and phone into an unfinished basement, but it won’t be long before it starts to feel like a dungeon. Even sitting at a laptop on a couch will hurt after a while. A finished space with a window goes a long way for the psyche, as does flexible, ergonomic furniture, personal touches, artwork and greenery.

Remove distractions – A work environment should be a dedicated space, just for work, that’s free from any distractions, prying eyes, or little ones. Not only is this to protect private or sensitive information, but also to be able to uphold a level of professionalism. Every job comes with less than desirable aspects, so a space where one can focus will also help combat the urge to procrastinate.

Set a schedule – Humans are creatures of habit, so create good ones by maintaining a healthy schedule leading up to and during each workday. Conduct routines like a regular workday such as setting the alarm, exercising, showering, styling hair or makeup and dressing in something other than pajamas. Even if video conferencing isn’t on the schedule, it’s important to show up for oneself as well. Have set hours, tasks and a time-blocked schedule for each day to stay productive.

When at work, work – This is about accountability, compartmentalizing and success, not spending more time in the home to do household tasks, chores, or errands. Do not set appointments other than work-related ones during work hours and ensure those around you understand the same. Be present and uphold work responsibilities. Business is still conducted, for the most part, during certain, expected hours of operation. Working from home doesn’t necessarily mean working whenever one wants.

Step away and shut down – The lines can blur when home also becomes work. Minutes easily become hours sat inside, in front of a screen, forgetting to eat or worse still, forgetting personal needs or that of precious family time. Have a strategy that includes setting boundaries to avoid burnout and promote harmony. Be sure to get up regularly and move about. Set a timer if need be when a project is all consuming. Always take a 45-minute lunch break away from the workspace. When possible, take some of the break outside, and when end of day comes, carve out time for self and to connect with people. Shut down the computer and walk away for the day. This will both save on energy bills and sanity.

For years those working remotely faced a public that assumed they had it made. The world is finally seeing this prospect for what it truly is, environmentally sensible hard work. Companies that provided these opportunities and this level of flexibility helped many employees weather this storm that much easier. The future may be uncertain, but an increase in flex hours and spaces in the common work environment could be tomorrow’s normal, as this moment in time has revealed many new possibilities that will not only change business and its people, but the world for the better.

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