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12 Tips for Working From Home

By: Benefits by Design | Tuesday April 21, 2020

Updated : Thursday June 4, 2020

In an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19, Canadians are remaining indoors and practicing social distancing. For many workplaces, this means working from home rather than the office.

For many, working from home is a new experience that comes with its own set of challenges. Overcoming these challenges takes a bit of creativity, lots of communication, and support. It also starts with having a defined workspace. Here are some tips to assist employees in setting up their workspace:

#1. Have a designated workspace. Just like at the office, having a single place to do your work helps you focus and put you into the work mindset. If space allows, this should be a different area than your bedroom or kitchen to draw a clear line between work and home.

#2. Keep your usual routine. If you normally get to the office and start work at 8:00 AM and end at 4:00 PM, aim to keep that routine as much as possible. Just like having a clear workspace, having regular work hours helps draw a line between “work-time” and “home-time”. 

#3. Communicate frequently. Not only will this increase productivity and accountability for yourself and the rest of your team, but it will also help to combat any feelings of loneliness and isolation. So whether you’re reaching out to discuss a project or even just reaching out to check in and say hello, keep in touch and communicate often!

#4. Distraction-proof your workspace. With schools closed and spouses also working from home, your work day may have more than its fair share of distractions. If possible, close your door to mitigate distractions, and if you have children, consider setting rules and boundaries about when they can interrupt. 

#5. Remember to take your little micro-breaks. It’s important to take small breaks from work, particularly active ones! Get up out of your chair and stretch, grab more coffee, walk around outside a bit. Micro-breaks (3 – 5 minutes) are proven to increase productivity, so don’t think of it as not working, think of it as working more efficiently long-term!

#6. Focus on posture. When working at a desk, you should be aiming for a neutral sitting position; feet flat on the ground, knees, hips, and ankles at 90 degrees, neck straight. You should also consider switching things up every once in a while and try setting up a standing desk!

Try and have your workspace close to the windows where you can have some sunlight and see some greens!

Work From Home Tips for Employers

Much like their employees, many employers may be implementing work from home policies and procedures for their workplace for the first time. We’ve had some employees working from home for years at BBD, so we had a bit of a headstart, but this was our first time transitioning our entire workforce to remote work, too. Here are a few things to keep in mind when doing the same:

#7. Set clear expectations. Make sure employees know what they’re expectations are when working from home. Every workplace will handle this a little bit differently (and that’s okay) so long as your employees know what’s expected of them in terms of productivity, work-life balance, communication, process changes, etc.

Note: It’s okay for employees not to be okay or be a bit less productive amid a global pandemic like COVID-19. Check out tip #12 for resources and support to help them.

#8. Be patient, understanding, and helpful. Remember that this is all very new to employees, too. Effectively working from home has a learning curve, and everyone is in this together as they adapt to different circumstances. Employers should try to take steps to accommodate employees and assist them with the transition as much as possible.

#9. Equip employees with the tools and resources to succeed. This means computers, keyboards, notepads, and whatever else they might need to do their job from home. For BBD, that meant allowing employees to take their desktops home. You’ll also want to consider sharing resources and tips to manage working from home effectively or new programs to encourage collaboration and communication, such as Zoom Meetings. 

#10. Communicate frequently. Communication goes both ways! Employees still need to feel connected to their work and their employer, and that means sharing information and social interaction. Consider encouraging regular team meetings to discuss projects and boost collaboration. You can also utilize services such as an employee intranet to keep communication alive and company culture thriving. At BBD, we use Jostle to share important information, and also to engage with each other by sharing healthy recipes, binge-worthy tv shows (very important right now), and more!

#11. Encourage employees to open up and reach out if struggling. Working from home can be lonely and isolating, even without the added stress and anxiety of a global pandemic. Let employees know you’ll be there for them if they’re having difficulty, and make it clear where they can go with their troubles and what resources they have available to help them through tough times.

#12. Remind employees about available resources and support. Whatever that support looks like in your workplace, make sure employees know where to go and how to access it. If you have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) as part of your group benefits package, that is an excellent place to start!

Working from Home and Mental Health

Working from home can sometimes feel isolating, but with the ongoing global health crisis, that isolation isn’t limited merely to work hours. With social and physical distancing still being the recommended best way to flatten the curve and limit the burden on the Canadian healthcare system, many Canadians are scarcely leaving the house at all.

Experts are already warning of the effects prolonged isolation and social distancing can have on a person’s mental health, so employers transitioning their workforce to work from home need to have mental health in mind.