There have been quite a few articles and blog posts about our collective abrupt shift to remote work. Many of these articles suggest creating a routine to help maintain some normalcy. We love that idea and want to dive a little deeper into the discussion of routine.
When it comes to a work from home routine there are two camps; one suggests replicating your in-office routine, the other suggests modifying your routine to adjust to the realities of working from home. We will outline both arguments with some suggestions on setting a productive routine.
Replicate Your Routine
Many argue that the most productive way to work from home is to replicate your in-office routine as closely as possible. Wake up at the same time, get ready as usual, start and stop working at the same time, etc. The central argument is that replicating your normal routine will help keep you productive because your mind and body are in their normal work mode.
This argument makes sense if you can effectively replicate your normal routine the normalcy should encourage you to keep up on your work. This argument is usually paired with a call to have a home office setup that replicates your in-office environment. Overall, the goal is to keep things as normal as possible as to not disrupt your workflow.
Adjust Your Routine
Others argue that remote workers should adjust their routines to fit the realities of working from home. This argument is especially relevant to our current condition. In general, some argue that people should take advantage of the flexibility of working from home. In previous posts, we’ve suggested replacing your commute time with self-care activities like reading, coffee, meditating, etc.
If you have the flexibility, adjusting your routine to align with your current needs may be a good idea. If you are staying-in-place with your kids, significant other, and/or roommates, you may find it necessary to adjust your schedule to balance your responsibilities. Adding more time to prepare meals, breaks to take kids for a walk, or schedule calls around agreed-upon “quiet times” with roommates may become necessary to maintain productivity.
If you thrive on variety, these are especially trying times. To maintain productivity you may need to switch up your work environment. Working from different places in your home may replicate some of the variety you need. Just make sure your workplace meets your work needs. For example, if you have some administrative, data entry, or content creation scheduled for part of your day that’s a great time to work from a less traditional work spot. However, if you have calls scheduled you should work in a conducive space (fewer distractions, background noise, and/or activity, etc.).
If you plan on adjusting your routine, the best advice is to communicate thoroughly with your co-workers and supervisors. In the transition to working from home, it is essential to over-communicate your availability, schedule, and routine.
Different people need different environments and routines to be productive. Both replicating routines or creating new routines will work for different people. With the abrupt transition to working from home, many will be learning about what they need to be productive on the fly. Either way, you approach your new routine, a few things are essential.
Be consistent. Create a routine and stick to it as best as possible. Whether you’re maintaining or changing your day-to-day schedule the routine is essential to productivity and making it through staying in place. Consistent routines are essential to making it through days and weeks more naturally, without them hours seem to last longer and days start to blend into one another.
Schedule breaks. It is crucial to schedule regular breaks while staying in place. You should set aside time to get outside, get some exercise, or even connect with someone. The combination of stressful times and adjusting to working at home can lead people to forget to take care of themselves. This could last a while, it is essential to avoid cabin fever and to keep our health and well-being at the top of our agendas.
Communicate with your team. Let them know what changes you’ll be making to your routine, or if you’ll be sticking to your normal schedule. With families staying home together there are more opportunities for disruption in your routine, make sure to communicate any disruptions to your co-workers and supervisors. One way to actively communicate is to take advantage of different statuses on your communication platform. If you’re away from your computer change your status to let people know you are taking a break, or not available for a quick call.
Reach out if you’re struggling. Many people are discovering that working from home is not all fun and games. There are difficulties associated with working from home, especially if you were forced to transition very rapidly. If you can’t seem to find a routine that keeps you productive reach out to your co-workers and friends. See how they are handling their new work situation and try to brainstorm ways to maintain your productivity and sanity while staying in place. Unpredictable and abrupt changes can create stress and uncertainty and all of us are truly living day to day adjusting to new restrictions on our social and work life. Creating and maintaining a routine can help us navigate this uncertainty. Whether you prefer maintaining your current routine or adjusting it, it is essential to commit to a consistent day-to-day routine. And through it all, it is important to remember, even though you are isolated you are not alone. We are all in this together and we are confident we will make it through this!
Written by Gabe Murillo – Research Manager