COVID-19: How To Work From Home and Stay Connected

The world has been shifting beneath our feet in these past few weeks. As more and more people need to transition to working from home, many are wondering how to get their work done. Parents with kids out of school, housework, and even worry about how our lives will change are all worthy distractions to combat – with love and clean hands.

Art Unlimited has had remote employees for close to five years now. While we are human and make mistakes, we also have learned a lot about staying connected remotely – and how to lower distractions. Here are a few tips from our remoters!

1. Create a Designated Workspace

Having one area where you will always work while at home can help set expectations for everyone, including you. You will most likely face one of two scenarios:

  • You are able to dedicate a room in your home where it is nice and quiet
  • You will be surrounded by your family because they, too, have been sent home

Having a quiet place where you can work is ideal, but not many people have that option! If you need to share space with your family, consider creating a corner in your living room or at your kitchen table. Set up in a room where you can close the door if the kids get too rambunctious. Limit visual distractions as much as you can (I set my desk up to face a wall).

No matter where you set up, organize and treat the space as if it were your office. Dress up and be professional to help keep your mindset focused on work. Take breaks from your home office throughout the day, just as you would at the office. Leave the area once your day ends. Work is done and it’s time to play!

2. Limit Distractions

Working from home can present many distractions – especially now. Kids, laundry, dishes, pets, that TV show you wanted to catch up on…If you wouldn’t do these things at the office, you shouldn’t do them while working from home. Set clear boundaries for your work time and home life.

  • If you live in tight quarters, everyone will have to adjust to this season. Ask your family to keep their voices down as they do their stuff (you may need to, also).
  • Being able to shut a door to the rest of the home can help. If you’re the social type or have younger kids, keep the door open so you can still hear the family buzz without being overly distracted. When you absolutely need to be left alone, put a “do not disturb” sign on the door.
  • If you are able to work while listening to music or a podcast, put on some headphones and listen. Those can help block out other distractions so you can focus on the tasks at hand.
  • If you have pets, they can really help you stay sane; however, they can be distracting as they also adjust to you being home. Help them know what to expect during this time by being consistent with what you allow. They’ll catch on that when you’re in your workspace they need to leave you alone. To get out some jitters, take your dog on a walk during break times. Our cats seem pretty chill, so give them attention as they want it, as long as they don’t take you away from work.

3. Be Intentional About Time

Time is your most valuable asset. Having good time management will help as you work from home. Add structure to your workday:

  • Have set ‘office hours’
  • Keep track of what you need to finish each day – either through a checklist or an app
  • Split your day into sections, such as emails first thing in the morning
  • Set alarms for regular break times
  • Block off time in the morning to help with breakfast
  • If you have meetings, set up independent activities for kids beforehand

Having set boundaries for your workday versus when you can run errands, do homework, walk your dog, or play with your kids is critical to working remotely. Setting your mind on work can make all the difference!

4. Virtual Face-to-Face Connection

Face to face interaction has great value. We live in an age with so many ways to connect face-to-face. Why not use them to stay connected when not in the same space?

If you need to talk to someone, use video instead of calling them. This is a great way to continue collaboration, also! Video conferencing apps such as Zoom, Facetime, Whatsapp, Bluejeans, and Skype can be easily used by your team for remote meetings. Just because you are not in the same room does not mean face-to-face interaction should go by the wayside. Consider setting up short group ‘coffee breaks’ where you join your team to catch up on day-to-day life. These breaks about life instead of business can help your team stay united.

Set up instant messaging to help replace talking over cubicles, in the hallway, or in offices. We use the Google suite, so Google Hangouts is what we use to get a quick answer to something…or to share something funny. Although running a business requires dedicated, serious people, we still need levity in our days. Other options include Slack or groupme…even MarcoPolo could help grow a shared culture.

Our employees collaborate on documents through shared Google files. Using an app such as Asana or Hygger can help you track your daily goals as well as keep the whole team on the same pages for products. Here are some more options you can look into for your business.

5. Have Grace

Having our work world collide with our home life could feel rocky. Our generation has not lived through a global pandemic – while this is new to us, it isn’t new to history. 

  • Have grace for yourself. Expect for things to be slow going at first and to have kids show up in meetings for a while. While productivity can be a good thing, this is a time of adjustment to a new way to live.
  • Have grace for your family. This is new for them, also. Each person will have their own adjustments and fears. This time can help you grow closer to each other.
  • Have grace for your employees. Transitions will take time and things won’t always run smoothly. Don’t expect perfection right out of the gate! Work through any issues as they present themselves.

To help during this crazy time of physical distancing and closures and newness, we still have so much to be grateful for! Let go of expectations of ‘normal’ and find something new each day to be thankful about. Find a way to get outside each day, move your body, and cultivate beauty during this dark time. We will get through this together, from six feet away and through our computer screens.