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Many of us are novices when it comes to working from home full-time.
And there’s a big learning curve as we figure out how to be productive and content during this new normal that, let’s be honest, is anything but normal.
I’ve learned that I have to be more direct when I am communicating with my coworkers and bosses. That writing down my daily schedule keeps me and my family more on track (and sane). That Slack can be extremely helpful, but also a huge time suck. And that there can never be too many snacks and stickers on hand to occupy a toddler when I am on a call.
I also miss my work friends more than I would have thought.
While it’s taking me some time to adjust to this new work life, at some companies, remote work is all they know.
So why not talk to some work-from-home veterans to learn all the tips and best practices that they’ve honed over the years?
Be overly explicit. Give lots of detail when it comes to setting expectations, giving progress updates and requesting help. You may feel like you are being overly clear, but you probably aren’t. Set regular check-ins to assess workloads and assignment progress.
Set a schedule. Routines can help in the face of uncertainty. They also keep your family functioning smoothly and prevent you from working around the clock. Set your work hours and try to stick with them – that means making sure family members know they can’t just drop in for a chat, and avoiding getting distracted by the latest Netflix offering.
Don’t work eight hours straight. We aren’t wired to work for long stretches of time. Take breaks. You will feel better and be a more productive worker. Don’t let the fear that people assume you aren’t working as hard at home guilt you into working 12-hour days.
Listen up, managers: Whatever you do, don’t micromanage from a distance. It’s not going to work. If you provide clear priorities and expectations with your team and make yourself available to help with any issues that crop up, you also have trust your employees to manage their workloads.
And now is the time to be extra flexible. Do you really care if an employee works from 7-10 pm because they’re also playing the role of teacher to their kids during the day? As long as the work is getting done.
Staying healthy at home
Now that we’ve covered some of the best secrets of working from home – let’s talk about staying healthy through all of this.
There are a lot of unhealthy traps that come with working from home, like the constant snack grazing or the lack of exercise.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Check out these tips on how to stay healthy or even get healthier while working from home.
For Gen X women, the struggle is real
For the millions of people in the sandwich generation (meaning they’re caring for their kids and their aging parents), this pandemic has pushed stress levels off the charts.
And since middle-aged women in the US do the majority of caregiving for their children and their parents, as author and journalist Ada Calhoun told CNN, they are particularly feeling the pressure of this situation.
This paragraph in particular stuck out to me: “So it’s now on Gen X women to keep their parents from dying while learning how to homeschool, while either working from home or dealing with a job loss and profound financial insecurity, and no social network aside from what we can cobble together online. It’s a perfect storm of pressure.”
Read more of Calhoun’s Q&A with CNN’s S. Mitra Kalita and why she said: “This virus may be the anvil that broke the camel’s back.”
Small businesses stuck in limbo
Also at a breaking point: Many of the nation’s small businesses. With the economy at a standstill, small businesses need cash injections – and fast.
Congress passed a $2 trillion stimulus bill at the end of March that allocated $349 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program that offered loans to small businesses. That ran dry in less than two weeks.
Lawmakers reached a deal Tuesday night that will add another $310 billion to the fund. (Here’s everything you need to know.)
But with the new funding comes more confusion. Some small business owners who applied under the first round still aren’t sure where their application stands.
Four of them shared their stories with CNN’s Jeanne Sahadi. One explained how applying for a loan was “one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever done in my life,” while a cafe owner in Minneapolis, who used his own personal savings to cover payroll, details the struggle in trying to decide whether to ask his staff to report to work next week.
Read more about their plights to get a loan here.
It’s time we talk about your posture
Sometimes, I can almost hear my mom telling me to sit up straight as I hover over my laptop, shoulders hunched, typing furiously.
I know I am supposed to be sitting in an ergonomic chair with my feet on the floor, but that doesn’t always happen. Fine, it rarely happens.
But your posture plays an important role in your health. Stephanie Mansour reports that regular workout routines aimed to improve posture can lead to less pain in your neck, shoulders, middle back, lower back and pelvis.
And here’s the good news: Adding just 20 minutes a day, three times a week can help.
Check out these exercises that can easily be done throughout the day to help improve your posture.
First comes love. Then come the postponed wedding. Then comes … a year’s worth of free beer?
Busch Beer is offering couples who had to change their wedding plans because of the coronavirus a chance to win free beer for a year.
The company will give 250 winners a $300 debit card, which can be used to buy two 24-pack cases of beer per month.