April 6, 2020

Americans transition to all-remote workplaces

Around the USA, people are transitioning.

As schools, gyms, restaurants and entertainment venues shutter across the nation, millions of employees are adjusting to shelter in place mandates and learning on the fly about an indefinite work-from-home lifestyle.

Technology probably wouldn't have supported this 20 years ago, but today the Internet, satellite links, cell phones, laptops, tablets, phablets and the like make it a completely viable option.

According to the Department of Labor, more than 30% of American workers already report working remotely at least four days a week in 2019, an increase of nearly 7 percent since 2012.

The coronavirus shutdown, however, adds a complex and interesting twist for families. Not only does it allow you to spend all your time with the ones you love, they get to meet face to face with the very different person you become at work.

While some find they are well-suited to the world of virtual meetings and coffee breaks at the kitchen table, others may find succeeding outside the office difficult. Many struggle to be productive with things like household chores, kids, and easy access to a TV. It can prevent at-home workers from accomplishing as much as they want to.

For those who are having trouble staying focused, experts suggest mimicking real-world workplace conditions as closely as possible.

That means getting showered and dressed and taking breaks and meals at your usual times.

Instead of working from a comfortable chair, bed our couch, use a real desk with drawers and files to keep papers organized, and elect for paperless filing when possible. Make sure to invest in a real desk chair. It’s important to have an organizational process just like at a regular office in order to be efficient.

If you can, find work areas you can truly call your own. It’s important to be able to concentrate. It’s not intentional or malicious, but family members have a way of distracting each other few co-workers can match.

If there’s a lot going on outside your window to pull your attention away, try pushing your desk against a wall. Try inspirational art, calendars or an organization chart to fuel productivity.

Regardless of what your day looks like, make sure to stick to normal working hours. Closely mimicking the schedule of a “real” office means leaving work behind when the work day is done.

Use your previous time spent commuting for something non-work-related, like calling a friend, watching a silly video, or staying informed with the news.

Learn to separate your business life from your professional life. Focus on the house, the kids and your spouse or significant other.

If you have small children, it might be necessary to stagger hour with your mate, especially with so many day care facilities closed or on reduced hours. If you set up some boundaries, you can preserve the most profitable partnership of all – your family.