7 Tips for surviving the Armageddon (of a home office)

Sorry to disappoint you, but the World will not end with this plague. And will not end with any other. There will be turmoil, problems with logistics, a lack of medical care and few other undesirable events. And there will be a home office. How to not lose efficiency and a work-life balance when an organized corporation workspace has been exchanged for your living room?

Was there anyone in such a situation before?

Working from home is an unfamiliar thing for many people, but it is still the usual life of many. Almost all freelancers are doing some parts of their work from home. So what tips from freelancers can we use in our forced remote work?

1 – You need space.

It is essential knowledge for new freelancers and remote workers. Do not deny the great value of your own working space. The best temporary office will be a separate room. If it’s not possible, try to separate the workspace from the rest of the home or just ask your family to not come near it when you work. When you went to the office for eight to ten hours, it was fine. Now you stay at home so everything should be fine too.

2 – Handy tools.

First, a suitable table or a desk and an ergonomic chair. Those things are available in every office, but now you must find one for yourself. Couches and thighs are not meant to be workspaces, you will understand that when your back aches and wrists lose grip after a few hours.

Second, if possible, take your office laptop or your secondary computer and put it in your workspace. If you have only one computer, create a new user to get a virtual workspace separate from your entertainment. It will boot faster and if you do not use your social accounts on it, the notifications will not disturb your concentration.

A scanner and a printer, two basic office peripheral tools. If you have them – Great! Go to the next paragraph. If not, fear not. Use a cell phone camera. Even the most basic smartphone has one. Attempt to find the best light and angle to shoot. If you need to convert the picture to pdf, use any basic image editor such as MS Paint. Find a tool export to it pdf or try to use… printer settings. There you can change your printer to a virtual printer and export the image as a pdf.

You have the same ability to create a pdf file from every document. It is even more simple. Just use the export tool in Word or Excel (or any alternative to them) and create a non editorial pdf. Thanks to this, you can send a contract or an invoice to a customer without specialized accountant programs.3 – Communication.

Internet, a business phone and other communication methods. Before starting doing remote work you should ask your boss which one should be the primary way of contact. In normal circumstances, you work as a part of a team and working remotely should not change that. Managers are also people, arising chaos will also affect the speed of their reactions. Try to help to propose a way of communication that is fast but not as official as email: Slack and Messenger chats or Microsoft Teams apps to get in touch with coworkers.

It is also the best time to implement work management tools such as Trello, Jira or Facebook Workplace. With a list of tasks to do you can let everybody know how work is going and to get ready for new tasks when the old ones are finished.

4 – Really work when you work, rest when it is time to rest..

This simple tip may be one of the most important. Thinking you can do more work because you save time for getting to work is delusional. If you take more tasks than usual in a not familiar workspace of your house you will end with 10 to 12 hours of work every day. This kind of overworking will not bring any positive effect but will only affect your health and your family relationship.

You shouldn’t take too many too long breaks, because if you lose concentration it will be much harder to regain it than in normal circumstances.

If that kind of self discipline is hard for you, try one of the few interval-based productivity methods such as pomodoro or action method.

Pomodoro is focused on simple time management and requires you cutting off from a source of distraction. You should silence all devices, inboxes and communicators. Work for 25 minutes then rest for 5, after four cycles make a longer break (but never over 30 minutes) and repeat everything as many times as you need to do what you planned.

Action method is focused on decomposition, big projects split to small actions made by one person. Make a “to do list” of every elementary task that has to be done and then go step by step as the list guides you.

5 – Routine, your old enemy became your best friend.

Sending reports, notifying your presence, checking your inbox and leaving. Everyday boring duties will make you think you still have a job and doing it as good as possible is still important. Also, the dress code and other corporation guidelines will create a good environment for you to work. Even eating lunch from your lunch box at the same time as always will stimulate your mind to focus on work as usual. Attitude matters in maintaining the inner balance. Focus on tasks that you can do. Crying or panicking changes nothing.

6 – Do not mix work with other things.

TV, radio, laundry, dishwashing, cooking, renovation and many others. Working from home can bring temptation to use that time to other things than work. But even if you seem like a cold-hearted person who says to your child that he or she must wait for you to finish your work, you must stay focused. During normal office days, none of these distractions would concern you.

When you work from home, you can’t also be a nanny for your family. It is time to set the rules that everyone takes part in house chores. Remember that you won’t get any external support for cleaning and repairs; even food services will be very limited.7 – Find good sides of the situation.

Remote work has one great plus. You create your own work environment! No more fighting over the AC, you can have as many plants as you like, you don’t have to listen to low quality jokes and useless gossip; you leave all office noises, rumors, and personal games behind. Try to enjoy this fresh way of working stripped of any annoying parts of a white-collar job in a big company.   

It will pass …

I know that the situation is difficult for many of us. Creating habits always costs a lot of effort, and here we are even talking about the pain that has deprived us of the basic rights. Therefore, at the end of this guide, there’s my small appeal: let’s not freak out, remember that for some such a life is normality. Although the world is going through something terrible, let’s be patient and think that this is only a temporary situation. But the truth is: when the coronavirus calms down, we will return to our everyday office life. If everything goes right, you will laugh that there was a time when every meeting was conducted through an email.

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