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10 Essential Tips for Working from Home During the Coronavirus Pandemic

For many of us in Enrollment Management, this is the first time we’ve worked from home for an extended period of time. But did you know that about a fifth of our EM team works from home year-round?

We asked our resident experts – our 20+ regional recruiters – for their tips on working from home. Keep reading for 10 essential tips to ensure your remote working success!

1. Establish and Keep a Routine

“Keep a routine.” says Stephanie Hospodar, Florida regional recruiter. “Sometimes your day feels a little different when you’re in your home environment so some structure helps!”

Lisa Howell, West Tennessee regional recruiter, puts it like this, “Get up at the same time every morning, eat breakfast at the same time, get fully dressed, and have a consistent time for lunch and a break.”

For what to wear while at home, Howell recommends something comfortable that also makes you feel confident.

Jeff Smith, Mid Atlantic regional recruiter, gives this advice, “Typically on the weekends we lounge around, take our time to get out of bed, etc.  If we do that during the week, that messes up with your normal weekday routine.”

2. Designate a Workspace or Home Office

One of the challenges of working remotely can be blurring your work life and your home life. “Designate a ‘work area,’ says Kylie Rigdon, regional recruiter based in Denver, “This will keep you from infringing on your ‘peace spaces’ such as your bed or other lounge areas.”

3. Keep Clearly Defined Working Hours

When working at home it can be hard to separate our work-life from home-life.

Pete Saenz, New England regional recruiter – says, “Maintain and not exceed a normal workday schedule.”

While it may feel productive to knock out those emails long past closing time or make those phone calls well into the weekend, research has shown that doing that consistently can lead to burnout.

Saenz goes on to say, “It’s been my experience that it can be difficult to step away from work responsibilities once the workday concludes if there’s nowhere to go and you’re already home, and as a side effect it can inadvertently lead to burnout when your personal time sometimes overlaps with work responsibilities.”

Rigdon gives this advice, “Set an alarm if you have to, but working from home shouldn’t mean working longer than you would if you were in the office.”

4. Move

“I find without office buddies or reasons to take a walk ‘down the hall’ it can become very easy to become stationary” says Hospodar. “So breaking that up is important for me.” Rigdon echoes that, “Get up and walk around every so often! You would do it if you were at your office so make sure to keep doing that at home!”

Sheryl Tingling, regional recruiter based in New Jersey, says, “Every hour, I’ll go for a walk or get away from computer.”

5. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Communication looks different while working remotely, and there will undoubtedly be some bumps in the road. “I think the biggest thing is keeping the line of communication open,” Hospodar says. “In terms of advice for a supervisor, just simply knowing that the support is there is all I need.”

6. Outline Your Goals for the Day

Courtney Klinedinst, regional recruiter based in Chicago, recommends making an outline for your day, “A to-do list perhaps.  Seems obvious, but every morning, I make a note of what I absolutely want to accomplish…what tasks need to get done.”

How does Courtney keep it all together? “Sticky notes!!!!  I live by sticky notes,” she says. “They are all over my desk with thoughts and reminders!”

Want to hit the ground running in the morning? Tingling suggests setting up goals the night before.

7. Consider the Benefits

Remember working from home does have some benefits: no long commutes for one thing. “I like to get up early and work on a personal project for about an hour before starting work,” says Kristen Waldrup, North and South Carolina regional recruiter. “It helps me be fully awake and relaxed when it’s time to start work since there isn’t a commute.”

8. Think About Your Virtual Presence

Video calls are a common part of the work day now. One regional recruiter offered up these tips:

Do:

  • Check to make sure you can be seen properly. Your face should be well lit. Make sure you don’t have backlight which essentially blacks you out. Make sure your full face can be seen. It is distracting if we can only see the top half or bottom of your face.
  • Mute yourself when not talking. If you are not muted, every sound (typing, clearing your throat, cleaning your desk, dog barking) will be picked up and everyone will be able to hear it. The screen will also cut to your face as if you were the speaker every time you make noise.

Don’t

  • Move around too much during video calls as that is distracting. If you need to walk around, you can turn your video off for the moment.
  • Have distractions in the background. Pets and family are adorable but can be distracting.

9.  Don’t Forget to Socialize

Working remotely cuts out a lot of those casual interactions that might happen naturally throughout the course of a workday.

“Phone a friend,” recommends Rigdon. “If you’re a master multitasker all the better, but reaching out to others will keep the isolation from getting to you! It’s not always a picnic feeling disconnected so make sure to reach out when you need to!”

10. Be Kind to Yourself

“It’s okay (especially right now) to feel less productive. Do what you can with the time you have and be okay with that,” advises Rigdon. “Distractions that you wouldn’t normally have (i.e. house chores, family obligations, you dog wanting to be walked 7 times a day) will happen. You’re still doing great!”

Waldrup’s best self-care investment? A robot vacuum! “I run it every morning while I pick up the random items and put them back in their place,” she says. “It helps me keep focused on work and not feel like I need to clean my house.”