The number of people that work from home, whether just one day a week or full time, has been on the rise for over a decade. In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the percentage of home-based workers that spent their majority time working from home increased from 3.6 percent to 4.3 percent.
This number has been steadily rising in recent years and has seen a major shift even higher in these last few months with the onset of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Growth in Remote Work
According to a March 19, 2020, release by Microsoft Teams — a communication and collaboration platform providing video meeting, chat service, file storage and sharing — there has been a 100 percent increase in users since November 19, 2019. In the last week alone, the number of users on Microsoft Teams has risen from 12 million to 44 million, and the number keeps going up.
Due to COVID-19, the number of people working from home has dramatically increased. For tens of millions of people across the country that are now working remotely, adjusting to work life away from the office can be challenging. To help with this radical shift in the work environment, we have eight tips to make the transition smoother.
8 Work From Home Tips to Help You Adjust
1. Create Your Home Office Space
Choose a spot in your house or apartment to establish your home office. Some people may have a dedicated space or room that they already use as an office, while others may need to use a kitchen or dining room table.
Find a spot that is comfortable to work in, but not too comfortable (like a bed)! Above all, make sure that the location you choose has a strong signal for internet and phone access.
2. Have the Right Tools for Remote Working
In addition to having the necessary hardware in place, such as a computer and printer, you’ll also need the appropriate technology and software, such as Zoom and Skype, to help you get your job done.
You'll also need access to your work emails and any file sharing platforms that you would normally use in your office. If your company has an IT department, you should connect with them to ensure that you are properly set up from your remote location. Chances are that you may need to connect through a virtual privacy network (VPN).
If you rely on your personal phone to conduct business and would like a dedicated business line, look into adding the Grasshopper app. This will allow you to keep your personal number private by creating a separate business number.
3. Set Your Work-from-Home Schedule
Organize your daily and weekly schedule and set reminders. If your company does not provide a schedule tracker or work calendar, take advantage of Google Calendar or the schedule apps available on most smartphones. One great advantage of the Google Calendar is that you can organize meetings and communicate via phone chat or video with your coworkers and clients.
4. Stay Connected
Keep in touch with your colleagues and stay informed. If you are a manager, make sure to meet with your team in a group meeting and/or set time aside for individual one-on-ones. Don’t forget to check your camera and make sure that your video and audio are working properly. Take advantage of your company's collaboration and project management tools as well, which may include Trello and Slack.
5. Establish Boundaries
Although working from home has its benefits, the recent school closings may make it a little more challenging for those who are new to remote work.
Having children, a spouse, a partner or even a roommate around for most of the day can make working from home more difficult than it would be under “normal” circumstances. Set your boundaries. Inform the other home occupants of your schedule, especially when you are planning on being on the phone or in a conference call.
6. Avoid Distractions
The television . . . your smartphone . . . Facebook . . . Twitter . . . the news! These are all distractors that can take you away from your job and the tasks and goals that need to be completed. Staying focused is important. This is the time when you should not risk missing a meeting with a boss, client or colleague.
7. Schedule Breaks . . . and Take Time for Lunch!
Even though you are now away from the proverbial office watercooler and may be missing out on the social elements of your job, you should work a few breaks into your schedule where you can connect with your office friends.
During this time of national anxiety due to the virus, the economy and quarantine guidelines, make an effort to reach out and check in on one another, even if it is just to talk about the latest series you are binge-watching.
8. Avoid Work Creep
Make sure to follow tip #3 and keep to your schedule. It’s easy to take on additional tasks and keep working after the workday is done. Sometimes it’s necessary to shift gears, or adjust to a revised or accelerated deadline, but try to shut down at the end of your shift or workday.
Be reasonable with the expectations that you have on yourself and others. Tomorrow is another day, and the good news is that your commute to the home office is only steps away!
Brave New Work
The world has changed quite significantly in the last month, and what may have once been perceived as a perk, is now a necessity to help slow the spread of a deadly virus and keep the economy moving and people employed.
Millions of Americans are now working from home, and what may be new to them now may become their new reality moving forward as companies large and small retool and reinvent the way they do business.
Thousands of recently unemployed workers will also be searching for new jobs, altering career paths or even following their dreams and starting something new as freelancers or entrepreneurs.
If you need help in starting an LLC or S Corp, or want to learn more about freelancing, contact Incfile and visit our learning center. Incfile has assisted over 250,000 business owners since 2004 and is able to provide the right support and insights to help meet your needs.
Peter Mavrikis is an author and editor with over 25 years of experience in publishing. He has worked as the Editorial Director for Barron’s Educational Series, as well as Kaplan Test Prep, where he ran the test prep, foreign language, and study guide divisions. Peter has also written several books on history, exploration, science, and technology.