As more businesses make the responsible decision to introduce a fully-remote workforce, many of us are settling into a new reality. In addition to an abrupt shift in work environment, we’re preoccupied with taking adequate health precautions to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

For some, working from home is already an accepted way of life. For others, the adjustment can bring additional stress as you manage the transition to a new mode of working – amidst children at home, temporary workstations and collaboration technologies. If you’re struggling to make the adjustment, we’ve compiled some tips and best practices from members of the PR Council HR Community to help you succeed from your home office.

  1. Develop a routine. The people who are most successful working remotely develop a routine from day one. Wake up at your normal time and begin your workday just as you would if you were working at the office. While most people see staying in their pajamas as a WFH perk, many remote work veterans find that getting dressed puts them in the right mindsight for a productive day. 

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  2. Create a dedicated workspace. It is helpful to identify a dedicated workspace in your home. It may be a spare bedroom, home office, or even your kitchen table. Make sure the space you choose is quiet and free from distraction so that you can take internal and client calls/videos. The point is to create a space that allows you to transition from your personal life to your work life with ease. Replicate your office set-up at home. Take note of the items you use in the office on a regular basis and have them at home, i.e. post-it notes, notepads, pens, calculator, etc.

  3. Create work “blocks”.  It’s easy to get distracted when working from home. To maximize productivity, consider creating blocks of time to work throughout the day. For example, create a work block from 8:00-10:00, schedule a half-hour for a coffee break or to check on your kids, pets, etc., and then create another work block from 10:30-12:30. Remember to share your whereabouts and schedule adjustments with your team. By setting time aside to address personal areas of your life, you can optimize your dedicated work time to help maintain 8 hours of productivity per day.

  4. Communicate with your team frequently and stay connected. At G&S, we have a number of channels (Microsoft Teams, Outlook, intranet, call forwarding) that make it easy to stay connected. Take advantage of those channels and remember: It’s better to communicate too much than too little. 
    • Consider using video conferencing rather than just audio when you can. Videoconferencing often makes communication easier and helps us feel more connected.
    • Use headphones/earbuds and mute your microphone during conference calls to minimize the amount of audio feedback and random noise disruptions.

  5. Keep communication going with your manager.  Update your manager on how things are going with you, your team, and your clients. Let them know if there is anything you need to continue to be successful in your work-from-home set-up.

  6. Monitor your emotional well-being.  While some people thrive in remote work settings, others struggle because they feel isolated. Depending on your needs, it’s possible you may experience loneliness or depression, especially if you you’re accustomed to working in close proximity to your friends and colleagues. Download a meditation or yoga app like Calm, Headspace or Downdog (yoga) and take time to mediate and move each day. Most importantly, be honest with yourself and reach out to HR, your manager, or other agency leaders if you are having a difficult time coping.

  7. Create fun connections that are COVID-19 free zones. Create opportunities to connect with your colleagues virtually, i.e., morning coffee breaks, virtual blind lunch dates, virtual trivia contests, etc. Commit to take a break from COVID-19 by making these connections COVID-19 free zones. While it is important to stay abreast of COVID-19 updates, it is also important to not let it totally consume and overwhelm you. Share some of your favorite ways to connect with others via collaboration channels.

  8. Take PTO. While you may not be able to travel, it’s still important to take a break from work. Take PTO days to unwind and reenergize.

Whether working from home is your ideal situation or an inconvenient necessity, these tips can help you manage the transition and balance the home office arrangement. During the current circumstances, remaining healthy and safe will also make you a more productive team member. Continue to foster the office community by communicating with your teams to ensure that everyone stays connected – even when you’re no longer seated next to each other. We’re all working differently, but together.

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