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A Guide to Working from Home

Posted on March 19, 2020
woman with glasses working from home with a laptop

For some, working from home has been part of their natural work routine. For others, they’ve worked from home once a week or a couple of times a month—and then there are those who have never worked from home. As of this month, suddenly working from home has become the norm, but even those who have worked from home on a regular basis, but not a daily basis, this will be a huge adjustment.

While there are many benefits to working from home, there are drawbacks, especially for extroverts and procrastinators. I thought, given the sudden shift, I would put together a guide to help those of us who have settled into our makeshift offices in our dining rooms or family rooms, so we can be productive, engaging and successful.

Recommendation #1 – Develop a Routine

Get up, start your work day, take lunch and end your day at the same time. This will help you maintain boundaries and not get lost in the blending time frames between work and home.

Recommendation #2 – Post a calendar on your wall

This morning a colleague and I were trying to figure out which day it is (honestly). A calendar will help you stay grounded and not lose track of which day or week it is because you are rarely leaving your four walls.

Recommendation #3 – Conduct Video Conference Meetings Regularly

Connect with your colleagues for meetings using a video conference platform and use the video feature, so you can see each other, just like you would in the office. Not only will this help with de-cluttering your inbox (more to come on that), it will provide you with much-needed socialization.

Recommendation #4 – Don’t Rely on E-mail Alone

It can become really easy to rely solely on your e-mail to communicate for general items, but you should still pick up the phone. Not only is it another way to connect, but it will also save time to talk out an issue rather than a long thread of e-mails. Since tensions may be high with so many of us adapting to major changes in our personal and professional lives, we may be more susceptible to getting frustrated and can misinterpret the tone of an e-mail.

Recommendation #5 – Reach out to Colleagues Just to Say Hi

When you work in the office, you might pop your head into a colleague’s office to talk about last night’s episode of This is Us or the fact Tom Brady did not re-sign with the Patriots, this should not stop because you are working from home. Text your colleague, give them a call, etc. – keep connecting.

Recommendation #6 – Take Breaks

While working in the office you get up and move about to go to meetings, etc., so take a break in the morning and the afternoon – go outside for a walk (if possible – please follow CDC guidelines), this will help you maintain focus.

Recommendation #7 – Establish Boundaries

The Assistant Dean of Goodwin told us to make sure we end our day and to avoid letting ourselves get caught in a common work from home trap where your day simply does not end. If you have a dedicated office, then you can close the door. If you have co-opted your dining room, then close your computer and put your work away until the next day. If you don’t, you will get burned out and be of little value to your team.

Recommendation #8 – Be Patient and Empathetic

We are in an uncertain time and everyone will have some level of anxiety. Anxiety can come from fear or simply because of the change. Regardless, be patient with others – you do not know how anxious they may be. Put yourself in other’s shoes over the coming weeks. Also remember, things will fall through the cracks, people will get frustrated, someone will have a technical issue, and the list goes on – just be patient with everyone. This does not mean lowering expectations, it simply means be patient and offer assistance to help those around you.

Hopefully these recommendations will help you adjust to our new normal. And remember, while there is so much uncertainty around us and the pandemic is drastically changing our lives, try to keep your sense of humor. Find something funny to laugh at and share it with others. A laugh here and there over the course of a day can help reduce anxiety.

Please stay healthy, follow the CDC guidelines regarding distancing, review Drexel’s coronavirus response website for the latest University news, and remember to check on the elderly and those at risk. We are all in this together!


Anne Converse Willkomm

Assistant Clinical Professor

Department Head of Graduate Studies

Goodwin College

Drexel University

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