How to Make Work-From-Home Productive During a Pandemic: Expert Tips

Remote working has become the new norm in America in the past few weeks. Johann Schwarz/SEPA.Media /Getty Images

Over the past week, remote working has quickly gone from a company-specific arrangement to city-wide and, in some cases, statewide emergency policy as local governments across the country scramble to contain the spread of Covid-19.

As of this week, major cities across the U.S., including New York, San Francisco and Seattle, have either initiated or are considering the shelter-in-place mandate, urging residents to work from home and stop all nonessential travel. It may be nice to avoid commuting and work from your living room couch every once in a while, but how, in the long run, this sudden change could affect productivity, morale and even job security, is an unsettling question to both employers and employees.

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“It’s nobody’s choice to work from home [in the current situation]. Day one is probably easy and nice. Day 20 can be pretty hard. And no one knows what it will be like if this goes on for two months,” Marc Cenedella, founder and CEO of the job posting and career networking site Ladders, told Observer.

According to Cenedella’s estimate, if the coronavirus pandemic continues to worsen, a third of the American population could find themselves working remotely for an indefinite period of time, which would almost certainly put many jobs in jeopardy. 

“Organizations are showing their true colors now, right?” Laura Hamill, chief people officer at Limeade, an employee experience software company, told Observer. “Our recent survey shows that one in three employees leave their jobs because they feel their employers don’t care about them. At this time, it’s crucial that employers provide full support to employees who work from home. Trusting people is key.”

“There are some things you need to do to ensure a smooth transition from a traditional office set up,” said Joe Golden, a former economist at UpWork and co-CEO of Collage.com, a fully remote company.

Here are a few tips from Golden to make working from home successful, based on his own experience running a remote working company:

1) Establish a dedicated work space. Working from the kitchen table or couch might be easy, but setting up a dedicated desk will make you happier and more productive.

2) Establish a morning routine and stick to it. Just because you are working remotely doesn’t mean you don’t need to get ready in the morning. While some people enjoy working in their pajamas, many find that getting ready like they were going to the office helps them maintain focus and work effectively.

3) Make sure your tech works. Invest in reliable internet access and a good router, and be prepared to use your phone as a backup.

4) Create an online “small talk” space with coworkers. Create general conversation slack channels, spend some time making small talk in our video calls and meetings, and generally put an emphasis on getting to know each other.

How to Make Work-From-Home Productive During a Pandemic: Expert Tips