Global companies, from the UK to the US, Japan to South Korea, have recently rolled out mandatory work-from-home policies amid the spread of the new virus.

Working from home will become the new normal for many. Some employees will be working from home for the first time, and need to figure out how to stay on task.

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The key to working from home is clear communication with your boss. Your manager might not be used to managing people virtually or may not have a ready-to-go suite of tools for remote workers.

To prevent a breakdown in communication, you need to know exactly what's expected of you from day-to-day. Ask your boss for a 10-minute video call to start and end the day. Reach out to coworkers and managers regularly so that you won't get forgotten.

  • Don't lounge around in your pajamas. Treat it like a real job.
  • Create a space exclusively for work that is removed from distractions, just like you would at your office desk.
  • Create boundaries within your home that your family members understand when you're 'at work.'
  • Bookend your day. If you can't enter and leave a physical office that creates more precise boundaries, use psychological transitions like a 20-minute coffee in the morning, then exercise right after work.

The abrupt shift from an office to a home environment could leave you struggling to get used to the sudden change.

Try to sustain a semblance of normalcy. Try virtual pizza parties or remote happy hours. Celebrate birthdays, give public praise for goals reached, and projects completed. Make time for casual conversations.

These are stressful times. You may worry about negative headlines or sick loved ones and put off communicating with your colleagues, contributing to feelings of isolation, which may lead to depression.

Solutions to this include as much face-to-face interaction online as possible through video calls, regular manager check-ins, and regular meetings with no agenda, like grabbing coffee or a drink.

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Pick a place for your office away from distraction.
Boundaries also apply to other people who may be sharing the same space. Children can work alongside you as if they were coming to the office.

  • Loneliness and isolation. And loneliness is associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and somatic symptoms like random pain.
  • Anxiety and pressure. The boundary between work and home life is not very clear. And switching between different roles and skills during the day will wear you out.
  • Depression. Besides the anxiety and loneliness that may lead to depression, sometimes work from home can make you feel stuck, like you are not achieving as much as the others.

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