The Dos and Don’ts of Telecommunting in the Age of COVID-19

home office
By now most office types in the developed world have come to the realization that the Coronavirus has the capacity to charge work life forever. In the past decade, office space environments have become a place where people show up, drink some coffee together and chat for a bit, and then retire to their desktops for a few hours, then break for lunch. Sprinkle in a few meetings here and there, but that is essentially it. People tapping away at their keyboards, something they can do anywhere. Virtualization, VPNs, high speed connections and teleconferencing software has changed how people work, and when the dust has cleared on the COVID-19, there is no guarantee companies will require people to come back and work in the same space together. So as we all begin to accept our new normal and try to adjust to what might be the new reality for work culture, some tips and ideas on how to make tolerable and even productive for you at your home office.

Don’t Sleep In

As tempting as it may sound, sleeping in will only eliminate the gift you’ve been given. Even though your morning commute has been reduced to a minute or two, you can use your morning to enjoy your coffee in peace (as opposed to the bus or in your car), cook a proper breakfast, do some calming yoga stretches, meditate, take the dog for a walk, take yourself for a walk, anything that your old routine wouldn’t allow. This will get you ready for your day when you finally sit down at your workstation at 8am or whenever your day starts. And don’t forget to make your bed.

Stay Comfortable

While most employers in year 2020 don’t care if you wear your pajamas and bare feet to ‘work’, you might feel a bit more ‘ready’ if you have actual clothes on. Make sure you you have a good chair and a stand-up desk if possible. This idea of telecommuting might sound quite forward-thinking and even radical and progressive, but there is nothing positive to say about an aching back and neck because of too much time spend hunched over your desk. Work on your posture and have a pillow or other back-supporting device.

Pick the Right Soundtrack

Whether it is silence, classical music, rain forest noises, a good podcast or Nirvana’s Nevermind, if your oratory senses are stimulated correctly, you may see increases in productivity. But be careful not to disrupt creative productivity and learning with noise. Some studies show that while listening to music while performing tedious, repetitive, monotonous tasks is fine, but writing, learning and creating usually requires a certain degree of focus that listening music can break. Find what works for you, pick your spots, and don’t let the relaxing and joyous sensation of listening to music interfere with getting real, actual work done.

Stay Organized

Yes, you’ve go this new found freedom and yes, you don’t have to attend those dreary team building meetings (in person at least). You can even eat a sandwich at your desk without feeling embarrassed or slovenly, but this is not time to get complacent or lazy. You need to take advantage of your flexible schedule and squeeze as much productivity out of your day. By keeping and maintaining a detailed daily schedule you can keep track of your task and assignments, while still carving out time for new projects. Limit distractions and stay on schedule.

Develop new Skills

How many words can you type in a minute? How many errors do you make while typing? If you spend time in from of a computer, then tying is a big part of your life. So, doesn’t it make sense to optimize this part of your life so that you have time for other things? Take a few minutes every day to practice and test your typing skills and avoid the hunting and pecking. Typing is an obvious one, but there are dozens of other light technical skills that you can learn from watching YouTube videos. Plus, there are some excellent free and paid teleconferencing solutions from companies like Zoom, Citrix, Cisco, Facebook, Google, Microsoft Glance and others. Take some time to learn which ones work best for your needs, and which ones your company wants you to use.

Stay Healthy

This means stay both physically healthy and mentally healthy.

  • Clean Out Your Keyboard. Wipe down an clean off your work space and keyboard with anti-bacterial and anti-viral wipes. germs can linger on surfaces and you don’t wan to get laid out by a cold or flu virus. Use a compressed air-duster to blast out hair, eyelashes, dust and other debris from your keyboard. It will keep your keyboard clean and functioning, and it is very, very satisfying and fun!
  • Stretch. Get up and stretch you legs every 45 minutes or so. You need blood to circulate to your limbs and brain if you’re going to survive this sedentary existence for 8 hours a day. Also, is good for your overall well-being to keep you body limber.
  • Meditate. Rest and rejuvenation will keep outside distractions away and help you keep a calm and clear mind. Clearing your head, or ‘clearing your cache’ is a skill that take time and practice. Try it out daily.
  • Exercise. When your day is over, go out and get some exercise. Get your hearth thumping and you blood pumping. It feels great, it is good for you and it’ll help put your eyes and mind at ease.

However long it lasts, employers and employees will be taking detailed notes on what worked and what didn’t during this enforced ‘work-from-home mandate. For workers impacted, use this time wisely and develop good habits for future survival.