Federal agencies and private sector companies alike are doing their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus by switching to telework. For many employees, however, this is an unprecedented change.

While trying to ward off cabin fever in your free time, here are MeriTalk’s top tips for making the most of working from home.

Freshen up.

Keeping your routine, despite rarely if ever leaving home, can help your brain adjust to starting the workday. Showering, shaving, and getting dressed each morning can help mentally prepare you to start the day. Enjoy sleeping in a few extra minutes because you get to skip the commute, but try to keep a morning routine intact.

Find a routine that works for you.

Schedule out your days and weeks. Having a set work schedule helps, but deciding what time you will wake up each day, when you’ll make lunch, and when to turn off work notifications can help create a new normal.

Get up and move.

Whether its pacing around your house or taking a walk around the block, there are plenty of ways to keep moving while maintaining social distance. Try to get up from your work area a couple times each hour and take a lap to get the blood flowing.

Build a makeshift office.

Stake out an “office” space in your home and stick to it. Set up all your equipment and tell family members or roommates that being in this space constitutes going to work to avoid creating fuzzy work-life boundaries. If possible, it helps if this space is out of the kitchen. Members of your household coming in for food can be a distraction, and it will stop you from grazing on snacks all day. Instead, use the kitchen at mealtimes and take those opportunities as a welcome break from your new “office.”

Reboot your equipment.

A sudden telework transition can be a big stressor on your organization’s network, but try tackling your IT problems yourself before contacting IT. Sometimes, all your laptop needs are a quick system reboot and an application restart to fix itself. On that note, close tabs that you aren’t using to try and prevent overworking your equipment in the first place.

Decide on a communication method – that’s not email.

Find the communication methods that work best for your team – from Slack to Google Hangouts to old-fashioned conference calls – and stick to them. As you’re settling in to a new telework schedule, try out different methods to work out the kinks, and then choose which method or combination of methods make sense for your workload. That said, be sure to follow all third-party application guidelines as set by your organization.

Adjust your approach to project management.

Settling in to the telework environment may call for a refresher to your project management tactics. While it’s difficult to mimic face-to-face communication and accountability, cloud-based sharing options (i.e. Dropbox or Basecamp) can help streamline management and keep your team meeting deadlines.

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Katie Malone
Katie Malone
Katie Malone is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.