Before the COVID-19 pandemic, about 15% of America’s workforce worked remotely. When the shutdown forced businesses to send their team members home, that number grew by 34%, meaning nearly half of the country’s paid workers have been making their living from home. These are just numbers, so we thought we’d look at something more tangible, like a day in the working-from-home life—and a few tips for making the most of the WFH experience.
The quick trip to work
All the time spent getting back and forth to work is now gone. Whether you have a short trip or a long drive, it’s nice to cut that time out of your schedule and use it for something more pleasurable, like sleeping a bit later. Lounge a little longer over the morning coffee rather than grabbing it to go.
Still, there are others who are sticking to their timeline, getting up at the same time and jumping into something productive. That could be catching up on household chores or diving right into work. It feels like a real luxury to get your laundry done, set up dinner in the slow cooker, and walk the dog a couple of times while still putting in a full workday.
How long does it take you to feel ready for the working world? Can you roll out of bed and, within minutes, jump into a Zoom meeting, fully alert and presentable?
Michelle Branley, Blue Fern Homes’ COO, is saving two hours a day now that she isn’t commuting to our office everyday. She uses the time to incorporate yoga into her daily routine. John Graves, the driving force for Blue Fern’s Forward Planning, rewards himself with an extended breakfast break that includes an expanded menu. Katrina [need last name and job title] sleeps in a bit, but also uses some of the time saved from her commute to enjoy painting, designing photo books, and taking walks.
Tip: Create a routine and follow it. Hold yourself accountable to a schedule and you will be more focused and productive.
Commuting to your home office
One woman says she tells her husband, “I’m heading to work. I’ll let you know when I get there.” She crosses the kitchen and takes a few more steps to her home office, closes the door behind her, and yells, “I’m HERE!”
Maybe your workspace lives in your living room, with the coffee table as your desk. Or you’ve set up a corner of your bedroom so you can close the door. But kicking back on your bed with a laptop can feel like a WFH luxury, too.
But is it productive?
Katrina has a large monitor for her work, so she can use that to define her home office space in her apartment, and says that helped “a ton”.
Tip: Set up an office space where you can work uninterrupted. If you don’t have a spare room, create barriers around your workspace—like placing a tall bookcase for separation—so that others can respect the “divide” between work and play.
Zoom in on your work look.
One of the preferred perks of working from home is the ability to dress in comfy clothes, the guilty pleasure of lingering in pajama mode for the better part of the day. John admitted he hasn’t worn a buttoned shirt or dress shoes in six weeks.
Grab your laptop and stretch out on the couch, and you’re working. Have you discovered that you work better when you dress down? When you get on a Zoom meeting with colleagues, are they equally casual? And if they were showing up with wet hair or in pajamas while you were dressed, how did you feel?
Tip: The experienced WFH crowd says getting dressed, whether or not you have a Zoom meeting, is a good way to jump into the working mindset—plus, you’ll be ready for an unexpected video conference. Oh, and pants really aren’t optional.
“The biggest challenge I’ve had is finding separation between work and home life. I find myself jumping on my computer at all hours,” says Michelle, who also has a teenager and two college students at home. “For me, sticking to my regular morning routine and work hours helps me stay focused.”
It’s a common scenario. You’re just going to check your emails or do a “quick work thing”. Inevitably, a few minutes turns into hours as you’re drawn deeper and deeper into the bottomless work abyss.
You might need to take some time off during the day. The kids need help with the online schooling or you have an appointment. Whatever it is, you feel obligated to make up the time at night or over the weekend. But then it overlaps with personal time, chores, and activities.
Tip: Set boundaries. Establish limits to your work hours. If a co-worker or client reaches out in the evening or on the weekend, you will set a precedent by responding at that hour. It might become expected that you will always be available. Make the choice of your work schedule and stick with it!
At the end of the day…
Some workers are anxious to get back to their workplace, perhaps missing the social aspect or just enjoying the environment. Others have tasted the freedom of working from home and would like to make it part of their employment. Technology has made it much easier to work productively outside of the corporate office.
We’re likely to see WFH becoming a part of the work-life landscape in the months and years ahead. Think about what that means to your choice of abode. You might need a home with a dedicated home office. Like Katrina, you could be envisioning a bigger yard as well as a larger kitchen with more storage space.
If Blue Fern Homes can help you find the right home for your lifestyle, let us know! We have new townhomes for sale in Seattle and Shoreline. Check out our virtual tours, and reach out to Olivia to schedule a private appointment, or join the Blue List to get the latest updates.