Remember when working from home sounded like a dream come true? While right now it may not be ideal, by making your at-home workspace optimized for your working needs, it’ll surely make things fall into place overtime.
By now schools have decided how the school year, at least for the next few weeks, will look. Whether your school is in-person, exclusively online, or introducing a hybrid model, it’s no surprise that many in-person formalities are still going to be transitioning into online formats.
As we all head back to school, no matter what they may look like, here are some ways to make your new virtual daily experiences better:
Set up your space.
Your productivity and your environment go hand-in-hand. Setting up your workspace in a comfortable area, free of distractions is key to achieving a work-life balance. At the same cost, it’s important to distance your work from your home life and to create realistic expectations for yourself, your family and your workload.
Commit to a routine.
Despite not having to set your alarm clock, account for commute time and any other added morning stress, it’s still important to get into good routines and habits by preparing yourself for a normal working day.
After your morning cup of coffee, listen to a podcast or music that you would normally listen to on your commute or while getting ready. Create an at-home work playlist that will get you excited and energized.
Just because you’re at home, be sure not to neglect eating lunch or skipping break times. Ergonomics is changing in the way we work and how we work. One trick is to look 20 feet away for 20 seconds to prevent eye strain. Surround yourself with scents and colors that will lift your spirits and get you in the working mood.
Track your progress and keep a record of your accomplishments. It’s important to not discount your work even if it is being done remotely.
Be explicit by communicating with the people you live with about your daily working expectations.
If you are a working parent, establish clear guidelines as to when your parental responsibilities for remote learning assistance need to take place and when you must dedicate your time to virtually working. There’s no shame in shutting a door, sending out a “quiet time” group text or leaving a “do not disturb” sign if it’ll help you get your work done.
Talk with your team about Zoom expectations and fatigue. Sometimes a scheduled Zoom meeting can be reduced to a short phone call or email.
Manage your time.
Without going into your normal office or school space daily, it may be harder to focus and budget your time. Take full advantage of technology to help you set calendar reminders and invites for meetings to easily track what to do each day.
- Google calendars allows you to easily invite people to meetings, set scheduled times to complete certain tasks and view others’ calendars and collaborate with them.
- Asana is another helpful organizational tool to track projects and progress. Teams can work together to view all work completely remotely, track goals, manage projects and increase productivity.
- Cloud-based Microsoft To-Do allows you to integrate daily, weekly and long-term to-do lists from your laptop, phone or tablet. Create subfolders and smaller lists to focus on detailed projects or create daily reminders of work to complete. Keeping a to-do list will help you remember tasks that are on your plate, no matter how sidetracked you may get.
- If you’re looking for an “all-in-one” workspace, Notions may be just the app for you. Planning is simple and tracking each team member’s work progress is seamless through the workplace feature, and even integrating other tools like Google Drive and social media.
Take a break.
You wouldn’t sit at a desk all day if you were in your normal workspace, so why should you do that at home? Taking breaks, having a snack or going outside are key. Affording yourself time to look away from work and do things for yourself will benefit your productivity and overall mental health.
Don’t neglect your personal health or healthy habits just because your working environment has changed. If you want to stimulate your brain while you take breaks, consider browsing through some online virtual events, that will keep you engaged and detract from the monotony of your day.
Be your best self on camera.
It’s no question that meetings are going to continue being web-based, so why not set up your space to look as professional and polished as possible?
Consider setting up a virtual background for all students and school employees to use. This will help distract from backgrounds that may not be ideal on-camera. Canva features customizable Zoom backgrounds for anyone looking to spice up their background or create a uniform background for all participants in online meetings.
When possible, avoid sitting with your back to a window. Flip your chair or desk so that your camera does not create a backlighting situation. Face the window yourself, or for even better lighting, have a steady lamp or light source directly by your face.
The position of your web camera is also important. The camera should be eye level so that your face is center screen. For a better perspective, make sure that your camera isn’t too high or too low, which can give your face a distorted angle. If your desk is too low, stack books or boxes under your laptop. If your desk is too high, see if you can adjust your chair height to become more center with the camera.
Muting your microphone on calls when you are not speaking is helpful to avoid background noise. If possible, wear headphones so your microphone is closer to your face and to help block out any outside noise.
The time is right to carve out a more effective workspace. From my own experience, working at a kitchen table for months, I know my new routine needs to be significantly different to ensure maximum productivity. While back in March it may not have seemed necessary to add a little feng shui to your “work from home” space, this new normal is pushing for us to get creative in our efforts.
Flexibility and experimenting with different strategies in your office space will benefit you now and in the future.
Have you been able to streamline your remote workspace? Tell us about it in a comment and let us know how it’s working out for you.
Assisting Kalix as Digital and Communications Associate, Channing Capacchione is a senior studying Advertising and Sociology at Boston University where she works as a Student Admissions Representative at Boston University Admissions Center. In addition to giving tours and presentations to prospective families, Channing has interned with the Boston University Marketing department designing flyers and handouts, writing copy and aiding with website development. Prior to Boston University, Channing attended Garrison Forest School, an all-girls private school located in Owings Mills, Maryland. Her 14 years at Garrison provided her with the opportunity during high school to gain knowledge and experience working with the admissions and the communications department.
Read Channing’s other blog posts on virtual admissions with a Gen Z perspective: