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Ten years ago, if you’d waltzed up to your management team and boldly stated that you wouldn’t be coming into the office anymore, they’d likely assume you were quitting. If, at that point, you assured them that no, you were going to continue to work for the company, but you were going to do it from your home, the reaction likely wouldn’t have been what you’d hoped for. Historically, employers weren’t overly thrilled by the prospect of their employees deviating from the typical 9 to 5, forty-hour work week.

And it certainly didn’t happen overnight, but happen it has: thanks to huge advances in technology and the varied needs of a diverse workforce, more companies than ever are now embracing the idea of a “balanced work space”, where employees are given the option to work wherever they feel the most comfortable and the most productive. For some, that may mean working in a collaborative space in the office, for others it could be a quieter, more private area, and for others still, it may mean working remotely.

To help limit the spread of COVID-19, many companies are giving their employees the option of working from home as a social distancing measure. If this is your first experience with remote work, it can be a bit of an adjustment.

We put together some tips on how to stay positive, motivated and productive when your house suddenly becomes your office.

Make sure you’re set up for success

Designate a specific area of your house as your work space. While it certainly doesn’t have to be an actual home office, it also probably shouldn’t be your bed. It’s a good idea to try and make this space feel as much like a true work environment as possible.

Once you’ve decided on your work space, ensure it’s equipped with everything you’ll need. Chat with your manager if you need specific tech or equipment to get your job done from home.

Try and declutter the area as much as possible (unless you’re one of those people who work best in a state of ‘organized chaos’).

Stick to a schedule

Sorry to break it to you, but you still need to set your alarm. You’re not commuting anymore, so yes, you’ll have a bit of extra time in the morning, but let’s be clear on one thing: working from home doesn’t mean sleeping in until noon, answering a few emails in your pyjamas and then having a nap.

On that note, dress the part. By no means do you need to trade your slippers for stilettos, but make an effort to project some level of professionalism. Get up, shower and get ready before your workday begins. If you’re tempted to ignore our sage wisdom and stay in your pink fuzzy bathrobe, keep in mind that your team (and possibly clients) will likely want to video chat with you at some point throughout the day. We’ll leave you with that thought.

Don’t wing it

Plan out what you want to accomplish that day and set a schedule.

Next step: actually stick to that schedule.

We recommend using the morning to get through the biggest tasks or the ones that require the most focus, schedule calls and easier tasks for later in the afternoon. Of course, if you feel you’re most productive in the afternoon (and half-asleep in the morning), maybe the opposite would work better for you. What’s most important is to establish a routine that helps you stay focused and on track.

Plan for coffee breaks and fit in time for lunch, just like you would if you were at the office. Don’t feel like you need to be working like mad every minute of the day, taking a ten or fifteen minute break can be a great way recharge and actually increase your productivity.

Stay connected

The reality of working remotely is that it can get pretty lonely, make sure you keep in contact with your team while you’re out of the office.

Effective communication is essential, especially for remote employees. Your manager won’t be able to just stop by your desk to chat about a project, but there’s lots of other ways to have a conversation. With no shortage of collaboration tools available (Slack, Microsoft Teams and Skype, to name a few), be sure you’re reachable and available for your team throughout the day.

Set boundaries

Working from home, you’ll need to set boundaries in two ways.

First, make it clear to your family, friends, roommates, kids and anyone else who might be tempted to distract you that you’re working, not just hanging out at home. It needs to be clear that you’re not to be disturbed while you’re in your work space, unless, of course, it’s an emergency.

The second boundary you need to set is to know when to call it quits. Don’t get caught working late into the evening or going back to your computer to finish something after dinner. There needs to be a clear time when your home is your workplace, and when your home is, well, just your home.

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