So you're working from home. Join the coronavirus-avoidance club! If you're new to the freedom of working in your pajamas (not that we recommend that), or don't usually work remotely for days on end, here are a few tips to help you through.
1. Get dressed. Take a shower, comb your hair, and put on real clothes -- even if it’s just pulling on a pair of sweat pants. This will help you get in the right frame of mind. It’s actually pretty amazing how simply brushing your teeth can give you a whole new attitude. Plus, you don’t want to get caught in your bathrobe if your boss suddenly wants to videochat.
2. Set up a dedicated workspace. Assuming your company has provided you with the proper equipment and communication tools, it’s nice to be able to use them properly. Find a spot where you can close yourself off from noise and even put up a “Do not disturb” sign if need be. A comfortable desk chair and proper headset help, too. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t stretch out on the couch for a while if the mood hits you.
3. Put boundaries on your work hours. Whether you’re on a 9 to 5 schedule or prefer to wait until late at night, don’t let work take over your home life. Put in your eight hours (give or take) and then log off -- physically as well as mentally.
4. Communicate with your colleagues. Give your bosses and coworkers frequent updates on what you’re working on, and let them know if you’re going to be away from your desk for a while. Set up chats and meetings, even informally, to make up for the in-person interactions you’d normally have in the hallway. This can both help with work-related collaboration and keep you from going stir crazy in your isolation chamber.
5. Take breaks. Some remote workers get so engrossed in their work that they forget to eat lunch (yes, apparently it happens), or find that they haven’t stood up in four hours. Be sure to step away from your desk once in a while. Just don’t forget to come back.
6. Take advantage of being at home -- and not having a commute. Take a walk. Bake some cookies. Make yourself something tasty for lunch, like a grilled cheese sandwich, or better yet, a frozen pizza. Just try not to eat your weight in snacks. And definitely don’t think about the Girl Scout cookies in the pantry.
7. Stay focused. It can be tempting to check Facebook and Instagram all day when no one’s around. Try logging out of your social media accounts or removing the bookmarks from your toolbar. Let yourself check in at designated times -- as long as you can be trusted to get back to work quickly.
8. Compete against yourself. Tell yourself you can have a cookie or a cup of tea -- or better yet, both -- once you finish your next task. Use your laundry as a timer; commit to getting something off your to-do list before the end of the wash cycle.
9. If you’re sick, take the day off. As in actually take the day off. Don’t work, even if you’re five feet from your computer.
10. Stay secure. Don’t connect to corporate servers unless you’re running the latest antivirus software. Be sure to run it beforehand in order to detect any malware that might already be on your machine. One more thing: Don’t use Wi-Fi in public places, and not just to avoid coronavirus. Data thieves compromise these public hotspots and use them to steal data. If you must go out, sign up for a virtual private network, or VPN — ask your employer if it has one.
11. Stay positive. We all know tone can be tough to translate when you’re not face to face with someone. You know what helps? Exclamation points! It can signal enthusiasm and friendliness, even when you don’t necessarily feel that way! See?! Also helpful: emojis and GIFs. Or try holding a contest with your coworkers for the best pet-on-your-lap photo, or saddest lunch option. Having a little fun can help you stay engaged and blow off steam. Try it! 🙂
Sources: Personal experience, SquareFoot, HubSpot, InkHouse, Fuze, Microsoft, PCMag, Forbes
Hiawatha Bray of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.