Mitigating COVID-19 in the United States has become a major issue, with the spread of the new coronavirus affecting everything from foreign travel to the supply of hand sanitizer. As a result, many businesses are requiring or advising that as many staff as possible work remotely until the infection is contained.

Many individuals fantasise of working from home, skipping the commute in favour of extra sleep, family time, or exercise. Working remotely, on the other hand, is a double-edged sword: you get to stay at home, but it might be difficult to focus on your work. Staying productive at home sometimes take a little additional work, whether it’s a mound of laundry that suddenly seems more tempting than your boss’s to-do list or a fast three-hour binge of that one Netflix programme you’ve been wanting to watch. Furthermore, for individuals who are accustomed to interacting at work, the seclusion might be depressing. Of sure, some people would like to remain in the workplace.

First and foremost, you should sit up straight, have some breakfast, and put some trousers on. How else can you keep focused on your work and maintain your mental health when working from home? Work-from-home veterans and industry experts offer four recommendations.

Location, Location, Location

Find a designated and comfortable work space that you can identify with your job and leave when you’re not on the clock – that includes getting off the sofa and out of bed.

“Having a designated area for working from home really helps,” says remote worker Matt Haughey, founder of the long-running community weblog MetaFilter and Slack writer. “I started doing this sort of work 20 years ago sitting at a desk in the centre of my living room in a small San Francisco apartment, and staying on track and not getting interrupted was a pain.”

Haughey has now built up a distinct home office where he can shut the door and block all distractions. He’s also gone to nearby libraries to use their free Wi-Fi, but considering that today’s work-from-home suggestions are designed to keep COVID-19 from spreading, going out into the public is likely counterproductive.

Find a Buddy

Without your most talkative employees continuously buzzing in your ear, you might find it simpler to be productive. However, social connections, even with employees, can help to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. Dr. Thuy-vy Nguyen of Durham University, who researches the impacts of isolation, believes that the psychological repercussions of working remotely for long periods of time are often disregarded or ignored, despite the fact that it is an important element in our mental health and team cohesion.

She explains, “We’re used to social contact.” “It promotes collaboration and closeness.”

To assist replace the socialisation need when working remotely, Nguyen suggests locating a coworker with whom you can talk whenever you need to. Alternatively, find a friend who works somewhere else and is going through the same thing. It’s also a good idea to use a social video call instead of Slack or SMS.

Have a Plan

When working alone, Nguyen also suggests keeping a more organised daily plan than normal.

“Other individuals usually impact our schedule and the pattern of our day,” she explains. “Your day will be devoid of the conventional structures that you are used to. It’s possible that people will have a hard time dealing with it. So one of the things we discovered when attempting to understand isolation is that planned time spent alone is better.”

Haughey takes many breaks throughout the day, either to play with his dog or to go for a lengthy stroll around the neighbourhood and pick up the mail.

Think About How You’re Communicating

According to Haughey, it’s critical to go beyond email and employ other digital tools that may better mimic the in-person office environment while still allowing for straightforward communication.

“Of course, there will be a sense of isolation, and how much your team is ready to amp up communication using other methods outside face-to-face talks will rely on how well your team communicates,” he adds. He uses videoconferencing services like Zoom and messaging applications like Slack to interact with his employees. “Another deadly feature of putting everyone on the same page is screen-sharing,” he says. “If I’m giving input at a meeting, chances are the host is also sharing their screen, so we’re all looking at the same thing as we bounce ideas around.”

Prithwiraj “Raj” Choudhury of Harvard Business School, who researches remote work and the link between geography and productivity, came up with a novel way to enhance camaraderie among distant workers: pizza parties. Choudhury identified a manager who held weekly lunches via videoconferencing while investigating remote work practises at the US Patent Office, which introduced a more thorough “work from anywhere” policy in 2011.

“She would buy the exact same pizza and have it delivered at the same time so the crew could bond and still feel like a team,” Choudhury recalls. “This is the future of work, therefore we can’t just keep doing things the same way we’ve always done them; we need to invent new processes.”

Furthermore, improved communication when working remotely can aid in the maintenance of relationships with coworkers, bosses, and direct reports. It’s also critical for managers to encourage employees to voice their concerns or thoughts about a project so that they don’t feel ignored just because they aren’t in the same room.

Remember Everyone Works Differently

Managers should keep in mind that not every employee wants to work from home, which might be a difficult change for some. According to Nguyen, as firms increasingly need many workers to work from home during the coronavirus epidemic, it’s critical that they communicate as much as possible and assist employees who are suffering with the transition.

“It would add another element of stress if management really forced individuals to stay at home,” she argues. “Providing staff with as much information as possible can help to alleviate the stress brought on by the disruption.”