Offices around the world are closing down to help minimize the spread of COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean production stops. Twitter was among the first of major corporations to tell their employees to work from home. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for companies of all sizes to follow suit. Employees are setting up shop in their own homes, unintentionally contributing to what has become the world’s largest work-from-home experiment.

The misconception about working from home is that it’s an opportunity for employees to slack off. To mislead their coworkers that, while their Teams status may actually read “Active”, that they might be filling out a crossword puzzle instead. However, the case could be made that there are just as many distractions in the office than at home. In the end, it’s up to the employee to remain on task no matter where they’re working from. Here are tips on how to remain productive, efficient, and happy while working from home:

1. Maintain your morning routine when working from home

A lot of people are looking at working from home as an opportunity to sleep in and do laundry on their break. If you’re working from home, you should perform daily routines as if you were going into the office. Doing anything other than that could throw you off your game. That means waking up early enough to take a shower, changing out of your pajamas, and brewing a cup of coffee to ensure your mind is moving. If your employer offers a break and lunch and you’d usually walk around the building with coworkers, take a lap around the block to get some fresh air. Don’t let television distract you from your productivity!

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2. Don’t perform any household chores while on the clock

Now, cleaning up after yourself during your lunch is one thing. But starting laundry or vacuuming one room while you’re on break? That could be a gateway to cleaning outside of your break when you should be working on that big project with its deadline looming over your head. (Of course, exceptions can be made during a time like this when children are on permanent spring-break due to COVID-19.)

3. Create an end-of-day routine

Distancing yourself from work after your “shift” ends is difficult as it is when working in the office. In fact, a recent study revealed that nearly 80% of all Americans bring work home and work nearly an extra day of work every week. That’s why it is so important to create a barrier from your working space at home, and your leisure space. If you have an office, it can be as easy as leaving that room off-limits when you’re not working. For those who don’t have offices and need to work in a living room, packing the laptop up and leaving the house to go on a drive is a great way to remind your brain it’s time to leave work behind.

4. Set some ground rules with your housemates

A lot of people who are working from home may have roommates or significant others that can act as distractions throughout the day. It’s crucial to set up boundaries when you start working from home! The most successful way I found to communicate this is to tell them that being easily distracted is a fault of my own. Then, I ask them to help me conquer this weakness by trying to talk to me less. Considering it takes about 25 minutes for someone to get back on track after getting distracted, even a 10-second interruption can cost you a big chunk of your day.

5. Communication is key when working from home

This one is two-fold.

First, your boss or supervisor would expect you to answer if they called your name in the office, right? The same should be expected of employees working from home. Maybe even more so. Now, I’m not suggesting that you over-communicate and annoy your boss with every little update on the project you’re working on. If this whole working from home thing is new to you and your supervisor, a daily or weekly check-in may not be a bad idea to ensure the entire team is on task.

Second, this is a unique time where employees are stuck babysitting their children when they have to work from home. This is where it pays to communicate and be honest with your boss. Don’t hide the fact that you may have to play babysitter to your kid while they’re at home. Most bosses would be understanding of the decreased productivity for the time being while the employee figures out the learning curve of working remote. If your productivity is impacted by working from home and going into the office is not an option, explain it to your boss and let them know you can work extra time if need be. Chances are they’ll be understanding and might even move that deadline for whatever projects you might be working on.

Here’s to hoping these tips will keep you productive!

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