Extension Viewpoints: Working from home can be a challenge

By Robin Young
PREVIEW Columnist
The global spread of COVID-19 has shifted our everyday way of life including some of us now working from home. Even if you already work from home, this unprecedented event has affected us all. With the technology and ways to connect us with our devices, we will continue to adjust to work/life at home.
We all have different living environments at home. No matter what your environment is, you’ll need to change some of your habits and routines to make working from home a success. We have routines we do at home and routines when we are at work. Everyone who works remotely must figure out when to work, where to work, and how to create boundaries between work and personal life.
If you’re new to working remotely, decide what will be right for you to help you stay productive and maintain balance. Think about these things:
• Make a dedicated office space. This will help you keep all your things in one area. You’ll want your work area to be comfortable and out of the way of distractions, even though you will still encounter them, especially if you have school-aged kids at home. Be sure to set ground rules with others that live with you.
• Creating a morning routine can be a blended effort with your at-home routine and office routine. Deciding you’ll sit down at your desk and start work at a certain time is one thing. Creating a routine that guides you into the chair is another. What in your morning routine indicates you’re about to start work? It might be making a cup of coffee. It might be returning home after a walk. It might be getting dressed (wearing pajama pants to work is a perk for some, but a bad strategy for others). A routine can be more powerful than a clock at helping you get started each day. Then again, having the flexibility to begin at your own pace can have its advantages, too.
• Having clear guidelines for when to work and when to call it a day helps many remote workers maintain work-life balance. That said, one of the benefits of remote work is flexibility and sometimes you need to stop what you are working on and do a house chore, walk the dog or take care of family. Sometimes, hours can go late into the night. If you do work late, allow yourself to sleep in a little the next morning to make up for it.
• Taking breaks is an important part of good physical and mental health. Take longer if you need to. Go outside and walk around. Moving around and fresh air will help you come back focused and energized. That’s good advice if you are working at home or at the office.
• Socializing with colleagues can alleviate loneliness, disconnect and isolation which are common problems in remote work life, especially for extroverts. Start a group text or email with a trivia question or a funny meme. Maybe your company will set up a chat channel where remote employees can talk about common thoughts about life in the COVID-19 time. It’s important to figure out how much interaction you need to feel connected and included. Even if you’re highly introverted and don’t like socializing, give a few interactive experiences a try so that you’re familiar with them if you ever decide you want them. If you’re not at a company with a strong remote culture, you may need to be more proactive about nurturing relationships.
• Working remotely requires you to overcommunicate. Tell everyone who needs to know about your schedule and availability often. When you finish a project or important task, say so. Overcommunicating doesn’t necessarily mean you have to write a five-paragraph essay to explain your every move, but it does mean repeating yourself. It’s better that everyone be tired of hearing your schedule than not knowing what your schedule is.
• Take advantage of the perks. If you are home with your family, take time to do something with them each day. Make a special treat, play a game or put them to work cleaning the house. Take time to do something you have wanted to get done but have been putting it off. It could be cleaning out your refrigerator or doing a crossword puzzle. Why should you do it? Because you are working from home and you can. Successful remote-at-home workers are very disciplined, but it takes time to acquire that self-control. After all, it takes serious focus to do any full-time office job from an unconventional space. That said, everyone lets their attention drift sometimes. If you find yourself working one minute and cleaning out closets the next, don’t reprimand yourself too harshly. Instead, take advantage of the fact you can go to work in your jammies, take an hour break to clean that closet, or just take extra time for yourself or your family. Working remotely comes with unique perks. Take advantage of them. You deserve it.
• Keeping a positive attitude will help you get through the day with less stress. Be patient with others. Remember that this is new territory for all of us and we are all having to adjust.
Above all else, figure out what works best for you. Sometimes the answer is apparent, but other times you might need some inspiration from other people who are in the same boat. We have a supportive community, whether you find them on social media, online through blogs or just reaching out to someone with a good old-fashioned phone call will help you get through this time. We are all in this together.
CSU Extension events
All CSU Extension in-person events have been canceled. The events scheduled in the Exhibit Hall have been canceled as well. There are no 4-H in person activities happening at this time, either. We will inform you when activities resume.
If you need to get in touch with the Extension office, we will be returning phone calls and answering emails at this time. Please call the office for more information at 264-5931 or visit our website at https://archuleta.extension.colostate.edu/. Or, see us on facebook https://www.facebook.com/CSUARCHCTY.
April 3 from 2:30 to 3 p.m. — Best Management Practices for Produce Safety. To join the Zoom meeting, visit https://zoom.us/j/187245762 or call in at (253) 215-8782 or (301) 715-8592. Meeting ID: 187 245 762.
April 22 at 6 p.m. — Resilient Archuleta will be hosting a zoom on Earth Day. Please join us via Zoom at https://zoom.us/j/133064826 or call in at (253) 215-8782 or (301) 715-8592. Meeting ID: 133 064 826.

This story was posted on March 30, 2020.