3 Tips for Working from Home During COVID-19

Wendy Loewen

COVID-19 has changed the landscape of work for many of us. My 18-year-old son is now studying from home, while my 22-year-old daughter recently stopped working in the hospitality industry. For many of us, including myself, the changing landscape of work means moving from working out of an office to working from home.

I am at an advantage in this regard because I have already been working at home for over 20 years. However, I know this is a new reality for many, and that it may not be an easy transition. I wanted to share three tips that have helped me stay productive, motivated, and focused when I am working from home.

1. Rethink your schedule.

My circumstances have changed over the years of working from home, along with my work schedule and structure. When my children were young, it sometimes meant I worked in the evenings and for a few hours on weekends. Now during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have elderly parents to take care of or children who need assistance with their new digital schooling, all while working in the same area as a spouse or roommate. These new circumstances will change and possibly put constraints on when and how you work.

Take some time to think about when you work best and when you can get quality, uninterrupted time. If your work gives you the flexibility, perhaps getting up before your household or working later at night works better for you. Even if you have to maintain your standard working hours, try to set aside at least a few uninterrupted hours for yourself, and let those you live with know that you will be unavailable during those times each day.

While you may be rethinking and changing your work schedule, it is still vitally important to maintain a routine for yourself.

2. Maintain a Routine

While you may be rethinking and changing your work schedule, it is still vitally important to maintain a routine for yourself.

  • Get regular hours of sleep. When we don’t have a set time we have to leave the house by, it’s easy to fall into irregular sleep patterns. Keeping a regular bedtime and morning alarm will help you be alert and focused during the day. Avoid long naps at all hours, too – if you need rest during the day, a 20-minute power nap is the best option.
  • Plan for healthy snacks. When I transitioned to working from home, one thing that surprised me was how much more I would snack during the day! At home, there is an abundance of all types of food that I could eat, unlike at my office. To combat snacking temptations, try setting aside some healthy snacks for yourself so that when you do get the urge to graze, you’ll be more likely to reach for things that will help your brain and your body. Some of my go-tos are nuts, dried fruit, veggies, and hummus.
  • Get some exercise during the day. Make sure you build activity into your day. I know some people are better able maintain a productive work-from-home routine if they get dressed like they’re going into the office, but I purposefully put on workout clothes in the morning so that I can go for a quick walk or hop on the treadmill on my lunch break. This may not be for you – you may like working out first thing in the morning or after work – but it’s important to find a time to get active and build it into your routine.
  • Take breaks. I make myself get up and move every hour – sometimes I go for a walk around my house, walk up and down the stairs, or stretch. During my morning and afternoon “coffee breaks,” I will do one small household task. While it’s important not to let home distract you from work, I find a small and quick physical chore is a welcome reprieve from all the mental work I do. I know others who use their breaks to catch up on social media or check-in with their family. Just make sure you build breaks into your routine – they help you stay productive and focused.

3. Separate your work and home spaces.

By consistently doing work in the same space, your brain begins to associate that space with work. If you don’t have a home office, you can still do a lot to create your own workspace. Sometimes, repurposing a different room into an office is a great solution. Or you can designate a specific space as your “office.” Perhaps this is a desk in the corner of the living room or even a specific seat at your kitchen table. If possible, avoid being in the space if you are not working. The clearer the division between your work and home spaces, the easier you will find it to switch from your “home” headspace to your “work” one.

Above all, be kind to yourself. We are all finding our daily routines upended and living with uncertainty as to what the next few months will look like. This can make it difficult to be productive and focused. Remind yourself that you are doing your best and that the transition to working at home can be challenging. However, rethinking your schedule, maintaining a routine, and separating your work and home spaces can help you make the best of working at home.


For more FREE resources, visit our resources page.

Author: Wendy Loewen
Director of Training, ACHIEVE Centre for Leadership

Wendy is the co-author of ACHIEVE’s book, The Culture Question: How to Create a Workplace Where People Like to Work. The book is available on our website.

To receive notification of a new blog posting, subscribe to our mailing list or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

© ACHIEVE Centre for Leadership (www.achievecentre.com)
Interested in using the content of this blog? Learn more here.