Not long ago, 4 million Americans worked from home. Today, in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, as many as half of American workers are currently remote part of the work week. And of those telecommuters, many prefer to continue to work remotely after the crisis. According to a recent report, telecommute jobs populated about 1.3% of job listings last year on ZipRecruiter, but now 11.3% of current jobs posted on the same job platform are remote. While the statistics climb, millions of American remote workers need to find ways to make living and working at home more comfortable and productive.
What are simple ways to make working at home work more smoothly? Let’s take a look at these tried-and-true solutions that are making a positive difference right now for remote workers:
1. Communication. Others in your home now essentially live in your workplace, so it’s important to communicate your schedule and important calls and meetings with them so they can work with you and around you with minimal conflict. Some parents find hanging a simple sign or colored paper (i.e. Green means you can come into the room but red means stay out) to indicate availability to others in the household. This can help you avoid situations like this viral video of a man’s interview on BBC being interrupted by children bursting into the room.
2. Fast Internet Connection. Connection speed is everything in the age of streaming video meetings and conference calls over internet connection. While limiting others in the household from streaming video during crucial meetings can help, the reality is that more than one person may need to stream at once due to remote schooling and other arrangements. So getting the fastest connection possible is important. Be sure to as your employer or academic institutions for reimbursement if you qualify.
3. Ergonomic Chair. While your chair at work was probably engineered for all-day sitting, the furniture you have at home may not have been made for healthy work productivity. Avoid health complications associated with sitting with poor posture and insufficient support by getting proper exercise, standing and stretching, taking breaks, and getting a chair designed for healthy sitting and productivity.
4. A Proper Desk. Like your chair, your desk must encourage proper posture to be a healthy part of your work day. Take time to select a desk that is the correct height and offers the right storage space or work space necessary to give you physical comfort and clarity of focus.
5. Adequate Lighting. Make sure the lighting in your work environment is bright enough to be healthy, but produced without glare and eye strain. Try to incorporate natural light into your work space if accessible. Consider adding a plant as well.
6. Surge Protector. Your electronics are at risk with every lightning strike or power outage and reconnection. Because you need your computer and modem to make a living, use a surge protector to protect all of your essential electronics from power surges that can damage it through electrical lines and hard-wired network connections like phone, ethernet, and even cable. Remember to plug in your cell phone charger cable into the surge protector as well.
7. Ergonomic Tech Accessories. If you find your eyes, wrists, neck, shoulders, and other areas of your body aching and fatigued as your work day progresses, consider incorporating ergonomic accessories into your work space. An ergonomic mouse pad, ergonomic keyboard, ergonomic laptop stand, and anti-glare filters can make all the difference.
8. Noise Management. Working from home presents the strange challenge of not allowing home life and work life to collide with one another. Keeping household noise out with noise-cancelling headphones and noise-cancelling microphone can be crucial to your continued focus and telecommute survival.
9. A Proper Backdrop. What’s behind you in your video meetings may communicate more than you do. Because we’re allowing supervisors, coworkers, and even clients to peer into our homes through video conferencing, we may find ourselves working in a fish bowl of sorts. If you are unable to have a blank wall behind you as your background, or if windows behind you are causing too much of a glare for video quality, some remote workers are setting up economical photo backdrops or room dividers behind them.
10. Unplug. According to a recent report on remote work, telecommuters struggle most with unplugging after work. While the benefits of remote work are significant, the ability to still enjoy non-work hours is essential to your quality of life. Commit to healthy boundaries and stick to them to enjoy longevity in the remote working field.
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