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How to stay Productive and Positive while Working from Home during COVID-19

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These are challenging times and many companies are issuing guidelines for employees to work from home. While working from home sounds like a great option to some, it may be a daunting situation for those who have young kids or who are not used to working from home. What are some challenges and how can you make the best of your work and life in this period of crisis?

Cultivate Your Positive Mindset

It can be depressing to watch the news and see what is happening at home or in other parts of the world. For some people, it can feel isolating to have to stay home and not interact with others. Or you may be affected by what’s happening in your neighborhood (people buying up the groceries or other negative public panic/anxiety behaviors). In this period, find little things to cheer yourself up. It can be the chance to spend more time with your kids or loved ones since you are at home. Or it can be being grateful that you are healthy or that you still have food on the table. Read a book to give yourself inspiration. Find little things to be grateful for to bolster your mood and mindset.

Adapt Your Physical Environment

We are often a product of our physical environment. Since you are working from home more often, it is important to have a proper table and area to do your work or have your video-conference calls. Some factors to consider on where to put your working table are:

  • Near to some sunlight: It is known that sunlight helps your body to create vitamin D that is important for your bones, blood cells, and immune system. Sunlight also increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin which helps to boost your mood and make a person feel calm and focused, which is exactly what you need now in this period of uncertainty.
  • The background of the wall should be pleasant and not too distracting during video-conference calls. The lighting should be suitable (not too bright or too dark) so you look energized during the call. Pay attention how light reflects onto your face. 
  • Quiet place so that you can have your calls and not be distracted by other sounds at home. 
  • Plants and pictures: Put a plant, some happy pictures or a motivating quotation in front of you as these will subconsciously boost your mood. 

Adjust Your Routine and Lifestyle

Before the COVID-19 crisis, most people used to travel to work, go for lunch and then return home. These travel transitions, however mundane, force working people to take more steps, take breaks and move around. With the need to now work from home and stay home to avoid the spread of the virus, some executives may end up working on their desks and not move around or exercise much. There is a need to adjust your routine and lifestyle by making simple adjustments such as:

  • Taking a 15-minute walk every 3-4 hours of work or just once a day. Research has shown that walking 15 minutes a day can improve people’s health and even reduce chance of dying in older people by 22%. If you can do more, great! But for those who are time-starved, small changes can make big differences. If you do not want to walk out, walk around in your house. 
  • Draw out a home schedule for how family life should be organised, especially if you have kids and they are all at home now due to school closures. You can discuss with your family members the schedule for your work (during which you should not be interrupted), mealtimes, cleaning up and time for relaxation. Create a new routine for the family and they learn to respect your new work schedule and also look forward to when you can all spend time together.
  • Create more time to connect with others at work
    Now that almost everyone is working from home, people may feel isolated and disconnected. If you are a leader or manager of teams, it is important to find new ways and routines of connecting with your employees. Explore new ways of team building such as having video-calls so that everyone can see one another and connect. Find out regularly, how your team members are coping with the new work arrangements. Do not focus only on the work but also pay attention to the emotional and mental health of your employees.

This article is written by Michelle, Managing Director of Clarity Training and Consulting. While working from home, she keeps herself sane and positive in this period by writing articles like these, connecting with others on video, taking short walks in the garden or around her house (while abiding the 2-metre guideline), cooking and enjoying silly jokes with her kids.