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Coronemoting: Remote work during the coronavirus pandemic

Hello! Your company is probably remote now due to coronavirus/COVID-19. As a full time remote worker, I have some advice (and encouragement!).

First, though, a caveat. If COVID-19 is causing your first experience with remote, understand that this isn’t normally how things go. This situation sucks, period. Even I’m not getting as much done, simply because, I don’t know, the world is falling apart. But regardless, switching to remote takes a lot of preparation and is very different from how you normally spend time outside the office.

I wrote a post previously about how different working remotely is, but suffice to say, the way you feel when you’re home under normal circumstance (rushed/groggy on the way to work, or exhausted/distracted when you get home) doesn’t transfer to how things go when you’re working from home.

Many remote companies have in-house expertise to help new-comers manage the transition and create a workspace that works for them. I imagine most people reading this won’t have that now.

So, without further ado, here’re my thoughts:

  • While you’re adjusting, keep as many things the same as possible (you can optimize based on your personal preferences later). Get up at the same time. Workout. Shower. Get dressed. I know it’s weird, but give yourself a little commute — even if it’s just walking around the block (while staying at least 6ft away from people, obviously). This will help you prep for work & separate play time from work time.
  • Speaking of, it’s really important to make sharp distinctions between the two; don’t let work bleed into evenings or, God forbid, the weekend. You’ll need the down time to recharge, especially in a stressful time like this.
  • Like your time, do your best to separate your space as well. This area is for work; that area is not. Rinse and repeat.
  • That said, your home work area probably won’t be as ergonomic as your office desk setup, so I suggest moving between a couple different places throughout the day. Obviously this depends on the size of your home — do your best, but try to avoid using your bed for work.
  • Keep your space clean. If my space is messy, I find myself cleaning whenever I don’t want to work. Get it out of the way beforehand so you can concentrate.
  • Your office provides you drinks, snack foods, coffee, and other related things right? So make sure you have those too!
  • Track your time. If you want to optimize your work life, you need to know the baseline. Don’t do it for your boss or your company — do it for yourself.
  • And I saved the best for last: schedule unstructured meetings with your colleagues! You’ll run into coworkers randomly at the office — when you’re remote you need to plan these moments instead. This will help stave off the loneliness that social distancing can cause.

I hope these help! If there’s one more thing I’d suggest that isn’t really remote specific: disappointment comes from missed expectations. So, adjust your expectations of how work is going to be for you right now, because when everything is awful, everything is awful. Including work. So take care of yourself!

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