Working from home: Solutions to the challenges of an abrupt workspace change

Please visit our COVID-19 resource page for the most current information about Red Cross programs, support, and tips. 

By Kayleigh Montgomery, Canadian Red Cross Digital Volunteer
“All Canadians as much as possible should stay home,” – Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

Canadians across the country, who are able to work from home, have setup makeshift offices in their homes as a pandemic business continuity measure.
But now what? Getting through the workday, while staying productive and engaging with co-workers, all while maintaining work/life balance can be difficult at the best of times; and that’s without adding on the surprise ‘from home’ aspect. 
I’m one of those many Canadians who shifted abruptly to working remotely and unfortunately, I work most efficiently in an embedded routine, in a designated work space, away from at-home distractions. I have a few tested tips to help with the adjustment that may even follow you back to your regular workspace, when the time comes.
A laptop on a kitchen table as a workspaceGetting through the work day
  • Set up a familiar workspace: Working from the couch is a nice change of pace, however if you’re able to resist the nap temptation, you’re at risk of troublesome ergonomics. If you don’t have a home office, try working from kitchen table to mimic a standard office desk. 
  • Add a plant: give yourself something nice and cheerful and add a bit of nature.
  • Snacks: Fridge proximity grants you full time snack-cess. Enjoy the at-home snacks at your leisure; just try to manage your junk food intake to ensure your immune system stays resilient.

  • Manage distractions: The house is always cleanest when I work from home… Use your coffee breaks get away from the computer to move around, put in a load of laundry, make the bed, wash the dishes, or do a 10 minute stretch.
  • Make a hot meal: Lunchtime! Use the stove or oven to crisp up your leftovers or make something from scratch. A nutritious meal will fuel a productive afternoon.  
  • Drink a lot of water: Drink two litres a day to keep your mind awake, get up and moving to the washroom, and boost your immune system.

Work/Life balance
  • Commute-free: Make your commute time, you time. Use the time to sleep-in, walk the dog longer, take an online yoga or meditation class, or play a game with the kids.
  • Work hours: It’s easy to let the end of the day role into your personal time when working from home. Be cognizant of the time and make sure you stick to working hours when you can.

Socializing with co-workers

You’re all feeling it. It can be lonely working from home. Instead of sending an email, pick up the phone and make an audio or video call.  

Final Tip

Remember to laugh: Laughing decreases stress hormones and triggers endorphin release. Email your team a meme or funny video. Laughter goes a long way and through difficult times, and can bring you and your team closer together.

Taking care of mental health during COVID-19
Tips to help families cope during self isolation due to COVID-19
Feeling bored at home? Take time to get ready
COVID-19: Tips for staying healthy, and what to do if you become ill

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