Experts weigh in on how to manage your newfound workspace.

By Jenn Sinrich
March 18, 2020

For many, working from home used to be an employment perk—a solace even. But now, given the spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus sweeping the world, more and more businesses have asked employees to begin working from home, no matter what their original workplace policy. As anyone who's new to working remotely can attest, it comes with its own unique set of challenges and a learning curve.

Kana Okada

One of the biggest issues with transitioning into a home-based employment status is that many parents are now working and taking care of their kids simultaneously, notes career strategist Jena Viviano. "It's very tricky to focus and we're seeing more parents swapping during the day in 'shifts' to work or take care of the children while they are out of school," she says. "You're going to see that companies that already have remote capabilities will have a much easier time transitioning their entire teams to a work from home status."

Even if you don't have kids at home, simply using your personal space as an office might take some time to get used to. To help boost your productivity, efficiency, and mood, incorporate these expert-approved work-from-home strategies.

How to Create a Fun and Functional Home Office

Set Clear Expectations Immediately

According to Gallup reports, approximately 50 percent of U.S. employees (both working remotely or in-office) aren't sure what's expected of them at work. "Now is the time to get with your manager or employees and get on the same page about daily, weekly, and monthly goals and expectations," says executive career coach, Elizabeth Pearson. "Take initiative by requesting at least a one-hour call or video conference with your boss or employees to outline when best to communicate progress on the outlined goals."

Start Your Day Early

While working from home might seem like the perfect excuse to snooze a little longer than normal, try your best to stay on schedule. "You don't have to commute, so you can be up, out of bed, and on your computer when you'd otherwise be in the car or on the train," says Chandra Turner, talent recruiter, career coach, and founder of Ed2010.com and Talent Fairy. "You can save yourself two hours of free time—then treat yourself with a news break, treat, or a quick walk with the dog."

Eliminate Distractions

The news is hard to tune out, especially given the current situation. But when you're working from home, it's best to keep the TV, radio, and smart assistants turned off. While you're at it, turn off your non-work notifications, too. "These will just distract you from what you have to get done and break your flow," says Turner. "Give yourself a certain time of day when you can turn the TV or radio back on or go online and check the latest."

Invest in Technology

Think about what your at-home office will need in order to allow you to perform your job efficiently. Things like access to fast and consistent internet, noise-canceling headphones, a large-enough desk area, an HD webcam, and a large monitor or two are key. "Ensure you have a quality laptop with a long battery life so you can work from any room in the house, regardless of electrical outlets," says Pearson. "If you have the right equipment, you'll find it much more comfortable and less frustrating to work from home." Many employers even offer reimbursements for work-related purchases.

Know When to Sign Off

When ending your day is as easy as turning off your computer, you may be tempted to stay signed on for longer, especially when others seem to still be working. But it's important to have a clear end to your day just as you would if you had gone into the office, advises career expert  Carla Isabel Carstens. "It's important to recharge and relax so you can be an effective employee on the clock," she says. "Instead, opt to take a walk, grab a coffee, or read that book you've been meaning to finish."

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