Woman working from home during COVID-19

There is nothing more stressful than having your dog barking, your sister yelling and the neighbor’s lawnmower going in the background of a Zoom meeting. This is an adjustment period for everyone. Even for those with no “home office," they must now create an office space within which to work. Whether your job includes writing, teaching, creating, or calculating, being stuck at home 24/7 can make it difficult to concentrate.

Although I have worked from home before, I’m still not entirely comfortable with it. However, my best practices revolve around organization, conversations and exercise. I tell everyone I know about the perks of having a physical notebook/agenda. Yes, Google Calendar is a wonderful tool, but putting something in your own writing will help you remember.

Regardless of whether it’s a conference with my professor, a Netflix party with my best friend, or taking a midday walk with my dog, I write it down. This helps me keep my priorities straight. It also helps me make sure that I take breaks and practice self-care. I know, self-care has been a buzz topic for the last couple of years, but it doesn’t always mean bath bombs and face masks. Sure, it can be both of those things, as long as it allows you to relax. For me, I like to watch a comedy after work. Or sometimes I’ll read one of my favorite childhood books. As long as it gives you a reprieve from your job, it’s worth taking the time out of your schedule to do it.

Other than filling notebooks with due dates and appointments, working from home also means ensuring that you can be present for the job; however virtual that presence may be. Thanks to web cameras and cell phones, we are able to have a fairly good office experience in our own rooms. But, we don’t always think of the things we’ll need to “go to work." The first thing is wifi. AT&T, Verizon, Xfinity and Frontier are just a few wifi companies that you can purchase for less than $20 a month. Perfect for a college-student budget! Now, in order to use wifi, it has to be connected to something. That something is either a computer, an iPad, a phone, or any other smart technology. I always make sure that my cell and laptop are fully charged at the beginning of the day. It doesn’t reflect well on employees if their devices die in the middle of the workday. The final step to creating a functioning office environment in your own house is dressing professionally (at least from the waist-up). Since it is your home, I would suggest not donning the full suit-and-tie ensemble, but I would also recommend steering clear of inappropriately worded T-shirts or revealing dresses. Be comfortable, be presentable.

On the flip-side, there is plenty of boredom to go around and a lot of you may be on the hunt for remote work. Indeed.com and hireaniner.uncc.edu are great resources. Right now is the best time to build up your savings account and polish your resume. As fall approaches, there are also several openings for seasonal employment. You could be a Community Organizer for the upcoming presidential elections, a secretary for a nonprofit organization, or even a virtual tutor for kids who are being homeschooled.

Whether you’ve already gotten the hang of working from home or you’re still overwhelmed with the remote transition, there is much to be learned during this period of change. I, for one, have learned that I work harder when no one is watching because my work has become qualitative rather than quantitative. I’ve also learned that, despite being really good at the “online-thing," I’d much rather greet my supervisor and coworkers in-person than on-screen. Here’s to hoping that classrooms, office buildings, and movie theaters are soon able to reopen. Here’s to also hoping that, until that time comes, we ask for help from our remote colleagues, we remain patient with these new adjustments, and we get through it all as wiser, kinder people.

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