Since March 2020, working from home has become the new normal for many office workers. Whether you expect to return to the office someday or are hoping to keep your remote work setup, it’s time for a habit tune-up. In this article, we’ll cover productivity and wellbeing tips for at-home workers, as well as the steps you can take to keep your work device(s) and data just as secure at home as it would be in the office.
Maintain a regular sleep schedule.
It may be tempting to stay up later at night and sleep in, but you should try to maintain your regular schedule. This will be beneficial in the event that you ever return to working in an office, but it’s also good for your overall well-being and for creating a routine while working from home.
Replace your commute with a walk around the block.
If you’re struggling with the transitions to start and stop work, try giving yourself a commute again in the form of a short walk around the block. This can serve as a gentle signal to your brain that it’s time to go into work mode and then, at the end of the day, go back into relaxation or family life mode.
Remember when you were jealous of the occasional freelancer or telecommuter you’d meet who could “work from my home in my PJs”? Perhaps that lifestyle no longer seems as glamorous now that you’ve lived it yourself for a year and counting. In fact, a recent article from HuffPost reports that “Psychologists believe that even when we aren’t presenting ourselves to the public, how we dress has the power to influence our mental health and general productivity.” Of course, what that looks like will be a little different for everyone. You don’t have to put on the business or business casual attire that you used to wear to the office (unless you want to), but even putting on a pair of jeans and a semi-professional shirt can help you mentally transition into an office setting, even though you’re still at home. Find what works with you!
Designate a home workspace.
Very similar to getting dressed each day, having a designated workspace at home that you primarily use during work hours can help you create a divide between your professional and personal life. Don’t set it up in your bedroom if you can help it, as associating your bedroom with work can interfere with your ability to get a good night’s sleep. You don’t need a whole room to yourself if space doesn’t allow for that; carve out a special WFH nook in a closet or a corner of another room, for example.
Limit distractions as much as possible.
This may be difficult if you have kids learning from home and/or another adult in the house who is WFH, but try to give yourself at least some time in the day to get work done without distraction. For example, you could use an online timer to give yourself a limited window of time during which you will only do work, or you might want to invest in noise canceling headphones. There are also apps and browser extensions that you can install to limit your phone and computer use to work-related tasks.
Get out of the house.
Be sure to leave your house at least once each day, making sure to do so safely (social distance, mask, etc). Whether it’s that “commute” we mentioned above or a quick errand, getting out gives you fresh air and a break from the monotony of being home.
Tips For Securing Your Workstation
In this section, we’ll focus on ensuring that your home workplace is secure. Since you can no longer rely on the security measures put into place in your office, take the following steps to increase your digital security at home.
- Secure your home Wi-Fi. Create a strong password for your Wi-Fi network and don’t share beyond the people you live with.
- Avoid personal browsing on company devices. Only use your work devices for work, and personal devices for personal use. This can help maintain the division between your work and home life, and it also ensures that your work data will be secure.
- Use multi-factor authentication and strong passwords. Protect each of your work accounts with multi-factor authentication (more than one login credential, such as a password and temporary code or fingerprint). Create a strong, unique password for each of your accounts. Strong passwords are long and use upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. Set calendar reminders to change your passwords every 3-6 months. These are both good security practices in general, especially when important personal or business data is at stake.
- Lock your computer when not in use. It’s simple, but locking your computer and using a strong password are your first lines of defense. Also, make sure that you are the only person in your house that is using your work device!
- Use the secure file storage and remote access provided by your employer. If your employer uses remote access or a VPN to connect to their network, you should be using this whenever possible. This will give you the benefit of your company’s security measures, even at home.
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