This article is part of a series from Blue Summit Supplies dedicated to getting you the information and resources your office needs surrounding COVID-19. It is critical that offices across our nation take swift action to protect their workers and prevent the spread of illness. The decisions we make have a direct impact on the health of those around us. Though it will be a challenge, changing our behaviors could save the lives of our friends, neighbors, and coworkers.
Businesses are taking drastic measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, including transitioning their workers to temporarily work from home. Though working from home is new to many workers, there are countless resources available to make the transition a little easier. In this post, we’ll cover tips and tools for temporarily converting to a remote office.
If your business hasn’t made the move to remote work, read our article on Social Distancing at Work: What it Means and Proper Practices. We’ve shared important facts about social distancing as well as steps you can take at work to protect yourself and those around you.
Why Social Distancing Is So Important
Social distancing refers to an effort by individuals to reduce close contact with other people to limit the spread of disease.
It’s a behavior adjustment that can lower your risk of transmitting or being infected by any disease, particularly COVID-19, which is transmitted mainly from person-to-person. The virus is spread between people who are in close contact, within about 6 feet, through respiratory droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land on other people, or live on surfaces for up to 3 days.
It can take up to two weeks before a person infected with COVID-19 notices their symptoms, which means avoiding contact with people is key to mitigating the spread of the virus. Avoiding people who appear sick is not enough to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, which is why many businesses are moving their workforce to remote home offices.
Working from home is new to many, and it presents a number of challenges for people who are used to an office work environment.
Remote Work Tips
When you work at home, privacy isn’t automatic. It’s something you’re going to need to carve out for yourself. Establish a dedicated workspace that gives you privacy for deep work and any required conference calls.
Use a closed door to your advantage. If finding a private space in your home is difficult, use noise-canceling headphones, so, at the very least, you can isolate yourself from the distracting noises around you.
Train Those You Live With
Working from home can be a challenge, especially if you have family, pets, or roommates who may expect that since you’re home, you’re available to answer questions, make conversation, or take them out to pee whenever they desire. It’s imperative to your success that you communicate effectively with anyone who shares the home in which you’re working. Set boundaries with your kids, spouse, roommate, parents, and even your pets. Make sure they know you’re working and what that means for them.
Keeping the door of the room you’re working in closed or wearing headphones are both good signs to those around you that you’re busy and unavailable to help with tasks or chit chat. It will take some getting used to, but as much as you can, help others to understand that just because you’re home doesn’t mean you’re available.
You’ll Have to Say No
As you get used to working from home, you’re going to have to get used to saying no to some of the people in your life. No, you can’t chat on the phone during the middle of your workday. No, you can’t drop everything to play games with your children. Learn how to say no during working hours. Decide when you are available to those around you, or everyone else will decide for you.
Add Plants to Your Workspace
Keeping plants in your workspace helps reduce stress, increase happiness and productivity, and—most importantly—they strengthen your immune systemby cleaning the air. Since your home will be your workspace, why not add a few green plants? Having a plant in your home office will improve your wellbeing and give your creativity a boost.
Because you and your family are likely stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the air is going to get stuffy. Investing in a few easy to care for plants will give the air you breathe the cleaning it needs.
When You Take a Break, Go For A Walk
You're going to have a lot less movement in your life as you work from home. There’s no walk to the car, walk to your workplace, or walking around the office. You’re entirely in your home, which means a commute of only walking from one room to the next.
An inactive lifestyle, also known as sedentary behavior, leads to obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, some cancers, and more adverse health effects. Humans are bipedal, and it’s important that we’re on our feet for most of the day.
Plus, sitting all day does nothing for your immune system. Ensure that you make the time to get outside every day, even if it’s just for a short walk. Instead of turning to your phone when you take a break, opt for a walk outside. The fresh air will help you maintain creativity and productivity throughout the day.
Create Your Own Standing Desk
Whether you’re used to a standing desk or not, working from home is the perfect opportunity to add a little standing into your daily work habits. Research has linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns.
Creating a standing desk at home doesn’t require anything fancy. A simple box or pile of books to raise your computer off the table for a few hours will do the trick.
Remote Work Tools
Digital Document Signing
Thanks to online tools, you no longer need to be physically present with another person to get a signature. Online signing tools can help remote workers get all sorts of documents signed from contracts to tax documents and anything in between.
Docusign allows you to send and sign documents and agreements securely from almost any device.
Working from home means you’ll have much more control over your time. This freedom and trust is liberating, but it also means you and you alone will ensure you remain on-task. If you're one to get easily distracted when working online, there are a number of distraction blocking tools that can help you. These tools block the websites and applications you find most distracting so that when you choose to work, you can’t access the distractions.
Screen Time helps you monitor and adjust your screen use by tracking use across all Apple devices. Once you understand where you are wasting the most time, you can set limits on these applications.
Focus is a website blocker designed for Macs that offers advanced platform-specific features, including scripting functions.
If you prefer something a little more visual, Forest lets you plant a virtual tree that will continue to grow until you move to a distraction, such as Facebook. If you give up and continue to Facebook, your virtual tree will die.
There are plenty of amazing online collaboration tools at your disposal.
Trello is a free tool that helps individuals and teams manage tasks and work more collaboratively. Trello uses boards that you can customize to organize just about anything. Think of it as a digital whiteboard, sticky note wall, to-do list, and project management software all in one.
Asana helps individuals and teams keep track of goals, projects, and daily tasks. Basic features, including due date reminders, custom tags, and calendar view, are free for individuals or teams.
Mural is a visual workspace that helps remote workers collaborate in real-time when a physical space isn’t an option. It acts as an online whiteboard or sticky note wall to help teams with project management, ideation, and collaboration. Mural has a free 30-day trial.
As remote work becomes the new norm for many businesses across the globe, we will need to adjust our lives and learn to work across online platforms. Is your team working remotely? What tools do you find most useful?
From all of us at Blue Summit Supplies, we hope that you take care of yourselves and those around you now and in the weeks to come. Remember that we are in this together as a global community. If your neighbor (or coworker) gets sick, there’s more of a chance you will get sick. Simple, yet critical precautions, such as social distancing, washing your hands thoroughly, not panic buying, and staying home if you feel sick will help ensure you and those around you remain healthy.
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