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Keeping Focused and Productive When Working from Home

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Companies and governments are trying to combat the new coronavirus by keeping people isolated and quarantined at home. This means that hundreds of thousands of employees are now working from home offices via the internet. It’s great not to have to commute or worry overmuch about a dress code (although it’s still a good idea to at least get out of your pj’s prior to starting a work assignment!) But the downside is becoming all too evident as companies begin to report an increase in sloppy work habits and lowered morale.

Mental health experts have come up with a list of ways and means to combat the disorientation that can so easily set in when working from home and cut off from the quote-unquote ‘real world.’ Here are just a few of them.

Find your sweet spot

Find a spot in your home that’s quiet, clean, and comfortable. Obviously, not the living room or the kitchen; that big screen TV just seems to turn itself on and those oatmeal raisin cookies seem to drop right out of the sky onto your keyboard. The bedroom is often the best place to work, as it is normally the most quiet room in a house or apartment and the temperature is kept the most comfortable. And bathroom breaks seem to be much shorter. Wherever you decide to work from, have some potted plants around and some pastel watercolors to gaze at. Keep office furniture to a minimum -- a desk and a comfortable ergonomic chair are about all you should need. A cluttered room tends to give people a sense of crisis and chaos.

Keep in touch with co-workers

Working from home alleviates the problem of over chatty and intrusive co-workers, sure; but social scientists say that keeping in touch with others with the same motivation and goals is vital in staying focused and lessening feelings of isolation and abandonment. So besides the conference calls that are a part of most work from home assignments, take time to chat with co-workers who are simpatico. A five minute check up on someone who used to sit next to you at the office is not a waste of time; it can give both of you a chance to blow off steam and discover what others in the viral office are doing to solve problems and increase productivity.

Stay structured

At the office there’s always managers and supervisors lurking about to make sure the work is getting done in a timely and productive manner -- that’s what they’re paid to do. But when working at home, there’s no boss breathing down your neck. This can be a good thing -- as long as you redouble your efforts to maintain a structured and secure work environment. In other words, when you’re working, work -- don’t get distracted with games or texts. Really focus on the project at hand. Set time goals and hold yourself accountable with objective performance ratings.

And finally, keep communicating. Keep those channels open with supervisors and co-workers, and those that you might be managing yourself. Set up a schedule of phone calls or teleconferences to stay in the loop so you retain a sense of belonging and purpose by interacting with others.

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