Tips for the New Telecommuter

Much of the workforce and student body have transitioned into telecommuting roles on short notice. This can reveal a lot about someone. Personality plays a large role in people's preferences and being at home will have some positive and negative impacts on your work environment. Not everyone will set up their new work environment in the same way.

Here are some tips for working from home that almost anyone can put into practice:

Get dressed every morning. Even if it is just changing into other comfy clothes, don't stay in what you slept in. When you start working in whatever you had worn to bed, there is no spark that lets you know that it is a new day and you're ready to take it on.

Use one space in your home that is designated as your workspace. Whether this is your dining room table, or a spare room, just try to avoid working in the same space you sleep in. Also, don’t lay in bed with your laptop, as tempting as it can be some mornings.

Remove distractions. Move away from people who may distract you during your day, if possible. If you have a pet that is asking for your attention, take little breaks to care for them. It is difficult to get in a groove with work when there are always new distractions.

Set boundaries. This could apply to letting those you live with know your working hours, minimizing your work outside of those hours, and giving yourself a lunch break even at home.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. To your boss, your colleagues, your classmates and your loved ones. Because we can’t read people as easily through body language and other in-person communications, use this time to sharpen your communication skills. Utilize video calls like Zoom or pick up the phone and call.

Avoid cabin fever. Being stuck at home does not mean being stuck inside. Get outside for walks, runs, or bike rides as often as possible. It could even be helpful to drive to a new location to get outside and switch up the scenery.

To set yourself up for success, it can be beneficial to learn about your own personality so you can create an environment to thrive in. A widely known tool in understanding personality is MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator). Take the test to discover your type of personality.

Introverts tend to be reserved, which allows them to observe their environment. Too much outside stimuli can drain them. So working at home for an introvert may allow them to be even more productive. They can create their own environment that can be adjusted as needed.

Extroverts on the other hand, engage with their environment and feed off of people and the events around them. They tend to feel enriched while engaging with others. This leads them to quickly take initiative and advance projects. It will take a bit more intentionality for an extrovert to enjoy working at home since that much needed engagement is severely reduced.

Take advantage of opportunities to work with others, even remotely, by picking up the phone to talk or starting a video chat. You can also allow yourself a couple breaks in the day to briefly talk to friends, family, roommates, children or spouses. Keep on track though and only let yourself talk to others for a few minutes at a time, just enough to keep you going through to the next task.

A lesser known part of personality is judging and perceiving, which relates to how we approach work, planning and decision making. These terms do not relate to someone being more judgmental or more perceptive, even though it sounds that way.

Judging types feel most at ease when the course ahead of them is well-marked, there is clarity and closure, and they can stick to a plan. Since they like structure, too many unforeseen events can stress them. Right now there seems to be a lot of unforeseen events happening, but creating structure where you can at home will help bring some calm back into your world.

Use the simple things to keep routine and structure in your life. This will start in the morning when you get up. What would you normally do if you were going to the office? Would you go for a run, drink your morning cup of coffee or take a shower? Continue what you would normally do, even though your commute to work now might only be walking across the hall. This will help signal to your brain that it is time to work. You also will need to end your day in the same way. End it with a home-made meal, a workout, or something else that will signal to you that the work day is over.

Perceiving types are highly flexible in unforeseen challenges and can seize the unexpected opportunities with ease. They react to their environment rather than trying to control it and see a world of possibilities. With all of these possibilities, people strong in this personality type can be slow to commit but highly creative and productive. Embrace your flexible nature while working from home. Switch up the space you work in sometimes to provide new scenery.

No matter your circumstance if you’re a student, employee or stay-at-home parent, being home all day can be taxing. Hopefully these tips can help to keep your body and mind sharp and in a good emotional state. We can make it through this!