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Is the coronavirus (COVID-19) forcing you to work from home?

This past week, sports organizations around the world have stopped play to minimize the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Broadway closed down all performances. Disney World, Disney Land, Disney Paris and Universal Studios shut their doors for the rest of the month.

Even Mount Everest shut down to climbers for the rest of the year. When one of the most remote places on earth shuts down, you know the situation is serious.

In light of this global pandemic, many businesses are asking their employees to self-isolate and work from home.

If you are not a self-employed designer and instead work for an employer, one who is asking you to work from home here is some advice to help you through this temporary job relocation.

1) Create a work from home schedule.

Working from home is very different than working in an office environment. Without a formal structure, it can be easy to lose track of time and become less productive.

A schedule helps you stay on track and get your work done. And the good thing is your home schedule doesn’t have to follow your regular work schedule.

You can adjust your home schedule for the times you’re most productive. If you’re not a morning person, then shift your schedule an hour or more.

If your morning commute typically starts around 8 am to be at work for your 9-5 shift, why not start working at 8 am and finish at 4 pm. Eliminating the commute gives you two extra hours per day.

Of course, you need to work the hours that your boss needs you to work. And be conscious of what times you may need to communicate with clients, contractors or co-workers.

2) Make a to-do list.

Since working from home is out of your element, and since there’s nobody there keeping an eye on you, the best thing you can do is make yourself a to-do list and adhere to it.

Identify what you need to accomplish each day and check off each task as you complete it. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day, and it will hold you accountable and make sure you are using your time productively.

3) Find a dedicated work area.

Find a dedicated space in your home and designate it as your “work area.” Your bed or sofa doesn’t count. Lounging on the couch with your laptop on your lap may sound pleasant and relaxing, but it doesn’t lead to productivity.

In this case, your kitchen or dining room table is acceptable as a workspace if you don’t already have a desk.

The more you make the area feel like a work environment, the more you’ll feel like working.

Inquire if your company has any allowance or budget to help you with expenses. Sitting at a kitchen chair all day is not comfortable. Your employer may be willing to purchase or rent you a chair to use while you work from home. Or they may ship one to you from the office. The same goes for computer equipment or whatever else you need to do your job.

Your employer is paying you to be productive, even when you’re working from home. They might be willing to invest a bit to ensure you can do the work properly.

4) Handling meetings while working from home.

When working from home, any regular office or client meetings will most likely take place over video. Here are some tips.

When in a conference call with several people, make sure you acknowledge your presence. Let people know you are there. Sure they can see your avatar or your video, but letting them know you are there tells them you are focused on the meeting.

You should also acknowledge the others who are on the call. If you would typically say hi to everyone before a live meeting, do the same on a virtual one.

If you are not familiar with video conferencing platforms, two that I use are Skype and Zoom. All Resourceful Designer Community chats take place over Zoom.

You can also try Loom, which allows you to send video emails to people. It’s great for presenting things to your boss or clients that you would generally do in person.

5) Dealing with isolation.

For someone not used to working from home, it can get lonely, especially if the situation lasts for several weeks. Here are some tips to help you deal with isolation.

  1. Go outside. Even if there’s nobody around, just getting out of the house can help ease that feeling of isolation.
  2. Move your workspace. Work for a couple of days in the kitchen, then move to the living room. Changing up your environment, even if it’s within your own home, can help you feel less isolated.
  3. Keep in touch with your co-workers and colleagues. Find out what they’re working on and update them on your progress. Have the same conversations you would be having if you were back in the office. There’s no reason to stop just because you’re working from home.
  4. Engage on social media, or, better yet, become part of an online community like the Resourceful Designer Community.
  5. Members of the Resourceful Designer Community talk to each other daily. It’s one of the ways we cope with the loneliness of working all by yourself day after day.
  6. And finally, and I know this may sound crazy, but try talking to yourself. Sometimes hearing a voice, even if it’s your own, can help ease the stress of being alone.

6) Dealing with kids while you work from home.

There’s a good chance your children’s school will close during this pandemic. Which means you have to deal with kids at home while trying to work.

Explain to your kids that even though you are home, you are working, and they must allow you to work.

This may not be the best parenting advice, but let your kids watch tv, play video games, if possible, get them to read a book. Try different things to distract them and let you get your work done.

Make sure to check in on them regularly. Less so with older kids, but you may have to check on younger kids every 20-60 minutes if they are not within eyesight.

Make time in the schedule I talked about earlier. Set “breaks” throughout the day and spend some quality time with them before getting back to work. Show interest in what they’re doing. Be sure you let them know how much you appreciate them allowing you time to work. If keeping your children entertained and happy means extending your workday by an hour or so, it may be worth it.

7) Avoid distraction

Working from home is fantastic. I wouldn’t change my lifestyle for anything. But one of the fallbacks to home-based working are the many distractions that come with working in the same place you live.

You may want to do a load of laundry, empty the dishwasher, or take the time to prepare a big lunch. These are things you wouldn’t be doing if you were at the office, so try avoiding them while working from home.

Treat your work time and home time differently, even if they both happen at the same place.

8) Turn working from home into a learning experience.

Take advantage of this opportunity. If you want to dress casually while working at home, or even stay in your PJs, then go ahead. Don’t feel like shaving, doing your hair or putting on makeup; it’s not a big deal unless you have a video call.

Want to catch up on one of your Netflix show during your lunch hour. Why not.

Use this opportunity to learn what it feels like to work from home and figure out if it’s something you can picture yourself doing permanently in the future.

Who knows, this pandemic may turn out to be a blessing in disguise and propel you to a future life of entrepreneurship.

You never know.

Are you being forced to work from home?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Tip of the week Create a coronavirus (COVID-19) poster for your clients.

In the middle of this global pandemic, many businesses are making an effort to inform their employees, clients and customers of how they are handling things. This is the perfect opportunity for you to design a poster for them to use.

Create a single poster with all the information about the outbreak, and offer it to each of your clients with their own branding on the top.

Be sure to include your own branding and contact information on it as well.

Offer this for free during this trying time and your clients will appreciate you all the more for it.

Help nominate Resourceful Designer for the 2020 Podcast Awards.

Podcast Awards

If you enjoy the Resourceful Designer podcast, please help nominate it for a 2020 People's Choice Podcast Award. Once on the site click the line that reads "CLICK ME TO NOMINATE MY FAVORITE PODCASTS". Then select Resourceful Designer in both the Arts and the Education categories. Feel free to chose your favourite podcasts from the remaining categories.

If you're not sure who to select in the Sports category, Wayne Henderson, the voiceover guy you hear at the beginning of every Resourceful Designer episode, hosts the Packers Fan Podcast also on the nomination list.

NOMINATE RESOURCEFUL DESIGNER FOR A PODCAST AWARD.

Contact me

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I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

 

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