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How to make working from home work for you

Five tips for working students to navigate employment through COVID-19
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Navigating employment from home under COVID-19 poses a challenge for many. JADINE NGAN/THE VARSITY
Navigating employment from home under COVID-19 poses a challenge for many. JADINE NGAN/THE VARSITY

The COVID-19 outbreak has single-handedly changed the way the world works. Seemingly overnight, working from home became the new normal — presenting a never-before-seen set of circumstances and challenges for working students. If being employed at home has proven to be a bit more distracting than planned, here are some tactics that can help increase productivity.

Get tech-savvy

Companies are using a variety of platforms to conduct meetings and communicate with their staff while working from home. Familiarizing yourself with the platform being used by the organization you are working for not only makes a good impression but also makes it easier for you to engage in meetings and discussions with your managers and coworkers.

Online etiquette is also important — use professional language while using chat rooms, learn how to log into the company platform well before the meeting starts, and be sure your video and audio faculties are working. 

Find your rhythm

You can establish a daily routine despite the changing circumstances. No commute may make it tempting to roll out of bed 10 minutes before you’re supposed to clock in, but giving yourself time to get ready in the morning can help you structure and plan your day.

Try to wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day, schedule regular meals, and take all your breaks in their entirety. If possible, step away from your screen while you eat, and go outside for your breaks to make your day more manageable and to avoid feeling overwhelmed. 

Minimize distractions

It may be tempting to multitask while working from home, but trying to do too many things at once may leave you feeling unproductive and burned out. I like to set time limits on my social media apps and leave my phone in another room to avoid getting too distracted while on the clock.

You can also use the “Bedtime” section of your phone’s alarm clock to mute notifications a few minutes before bedtime. The less distracted you are, the more likely you are to focus on the task at hand and complete your work effectively in a timely manner.

Make space

Try to find an area of your living space that is comfortable but also ergonomic to be your designated ‘work-from-home’ area. Also, keep your background in mind — it will be shown on your video calls! Having a workspace separated from spaces for relaxation and leisure is not only helpful in terms of establishing a routine but can also help separate the parts of your day that are for work and rest.  

Get moving!

Physical exercise can do wonders for your health and productivity, especially when you’ve been cooped up in the house all day. Any form of physical activity is beneficial, and it doesn’t need to be intense to be effective. A short walk around the block is great for your mind and body.

Personally, I love watching yoga tutorials online because it is a great way to de-stress and stay active within the confined spaces of my home.

Be kind to yourself

These are extraordinary circumstances, and there is no perfect way to handle working from home. It is alright to be unproductive, to sleep in, and to feel upset about the current global situation. Forgive yourself for the technical mishaps and miscommunications you may experience, and remember that you are not alone as we adapt to our new normal.