I’ve always wanted the flexibility to be able to work from home occasionally. I know that it’s a common perk of lots of jobs these days, but for me, it’s a little more than that. So many people with disabilities look for jobs that have at least some ability to work from home, because it can make things so much easier. I’ve written before about how I’m already tired by the time I get to work, because of how long it takes just to get ready. Being able to work from home simplifies a lot of that.
When I was interviewing for my new job, I made sure that I’d have the option to work from home at times. I definitely did not expect things to turn out like they did, though – I had been working in the new position for less than a month before everything changed, and we were all sent to work from home for the foreseeable future.
Not only am I working from home now, but my mom, dad, and sister also are, too. And I didn’t have any real work space set up – I have a desk in my room, but it is… kind of a mess, and working there didn’t really make me feel like I was “at work.” So it took some time to figure out the best way to make working at home work for me. It’s been a few weeks now, and I feel like I’ve got my routine figured out now.
Now, to be clear – this is what works for me. I know that my work-from-home routine won’t work for everyone! But I thought I’d share what I have found, in case it helps out anyone else who is new to working from home, too.
Create a Work Space
Like I mentioned, this has been key for me. Working from my room just didn’t feel different enough – I found out that I really needed a separate space. So I have taken over a room in our basement and made it into my “office.” All that really means is that I bought a desk from Amazon – since this isn’t going to permanently become an office space, I bought a desk that could fold up and be put away easily when I’m not using it. It’s actually a really nice size, and I even have room for a second monitor on it.
Have Some Sort of Schedule
I don’t think that your schedule needs to be the same as it was if you were going into the office, but having some sort of routine creates the feel of a work day. I am not someone that is going to wear real clothes when I’m at home, but I change into what I’ve named my “day pajamas,” I shower or wash my face, brush my teeth, etc. – all things that I’d normally do in the morning. It helps me feel like my day is starting. I also try to work regular-ish working hours – I’m not starting at 8 AM, but I’m not working on Saturday, either.
Take Advantage of the Flexibility
I guess this one flies a little bit in the face of my last point, but that doesn’t make it less true. I think it’s even more true given with the coronavirus – the reason that we’re all working from home. If it’s a nice day, get outside for a little bit, even if it’s during working hours. If a workout video is more your speed, do that. I think we need to do whatever keeps us healthy mentally right now, and sometimes that means taking a short break during the work day. If you feel like you need to justify it for yourself, think about the time that you’re not spending going out for coffees and lunches right now!
Figure Out How to Communicate
There’s no more popping by someone’s office for a quick chat, so you have to figure out the best way to communicate with your coworkers. Make sure you stay on top of your e-mail inbox if you can, and get behind the new Zoom/Skype meeting trend. My team has started using Slack for quick, day-to-day talking, and it’s working really well for us.