Surviving The Pandemic – 10 Tips on working from home

Covid-19 has made its presence known. During these challenging times we are forced to find new and different ways to achieve schooling for our children and continue working from a remote location. If you are new to this concept, the thought of accomplishing these tasks can be overwhelming. We are here to offer you some tips from our own work-from-home experience early in our business.

Michael Buss Architects started in a spare bedroom in our home many years ago. And while that sufficed for a while, our family began to grow and the need for more space became real. We moved to the lower level of our home and our house became a work in progress as the addition for more office space began. We can’t thank our past clients enough for having enough faith in us as they dealt with the on-going project. With hard work and patience, our clients were able to enter our home office through a walkout entrance directly from the outside. What became immediately apparent was the need for boundaries for our children as they, and the business, began to grow. When daddy was downstairs, he was at work. When mommy was on the phone, she was at work, and unless it was an emergency, it would have to wait until she was free to respond. Our boys grew up learning the ways of a home office.

In this unprecedented time, many families have not been afforded the time to strategize their home routine as our children learned. In a matter of days we are learning how to be teachers, establishing home-schooling routines, working remotely from home, and dealing with the many challenges this disease presents. There are so many questions that plague us all: Where will you work from remotely? Where will the school area be? Who cooks, who cleans? What boundaries will be needed to get through this crisis?

Having already experienced this situation, and coming through it still sane, we would like to offer you a few tips that worked for us.

1. Maintain regular hours

Set a schedule for work, school, and playtime and stick to it! This will, perhaps, be your biggest challenge. Having clear guidelines will help you and your children understand the routine and stick to it. This will be a new process for everyone. Remember that one of the positive aspects of working remotely is flexibility. Inject a little fun into the day once in a while. Our boys f

ondly remember when we had pajama days! Flexibility makes the days that demand structure a little more endurable.

2. Create a morning routine

Think about what gets your day started. And do the same for your children. Is it a morning cup of coffee? A run outside? How about a bowl of cereal and glass of milk? Whatever you did to start your day before Covid-19, continue to do it during Covid-19. Routines subconsciously help us get ready for the day and in some cases can be more powerful than your clock. As with most, Mike would start his day at Dunkin Donuts with a big cup of coffee. While Covid-19 has changed that, a new routine to begin the day has taken its place.

3. Set ground rules at home

These are new days for all at home. With everyone staying inside, frustration is bound to build and tempers will flare. Have a family meeting and establish a clear set of rules for everyone to follow. There will be more cooking, cleaning, and laundry to do. Someone needs to be in charge of taking care of pets. Set up a visible list of who is to do what, when it is to be done, and the times when work, school and play are to be taking place. Change the list each week so the jobs are being rotated and frustration and boredom are not allowed to fester.

4. Schedule routine breaks

The federal government has established guidelines for worktime breaks for a reason. A one-hour lunch and two 15-minute breaks are a reasonable start. Give yourself and your children time to decompress and regroup as the day progresses. It will give you and them the ability to focus when the time comes.

5. Establish a dedicated office space

In an ideal world, an individual working remotely would have a home office, dedicated computers and phone lines and the privacy necessary to complete the day’s tasks. The reality today is that this was thrust upon us with almost no time to prepare. So do what you can. Dedicate a clear work area for yourself and one for your children. Set clear guidelines that this is what the area is used for and you should not be disturbed during that time. (You’d hate for a soccer ball to fly past during a video conference!) Playtime should be scheduled for after work time if you do not have a dedicated office. Unfortunately, your pets may not know the difference. But then everyone needs a little unconditional love during this stressful time.

6. Socialize with colleagues and friends

Even though we are being told to be mindful of social distancing, remote work life can lead to feelings of loneliness, isolation, and disconnection. Explore ways for you and your family to stay connected. Facetime family and friends and share funny stories of events taking place while you are at home. Use chat channels to share common interests with others and discover how they are handling the situation. The internet can provide a variety of ways to stay connected with the outside world. Have fun exploring

7. Accentuate the positive

I like succinct and clear messages, but I know that the less face time I have with people, the less they know how to interpret my tone in writing. When you work remotely, you must be aware to stay positive, to the point where it may feel like you’re being overly positive. Otherwise, you risk sounding abrupt. It’s unfortunate, but true. So embrace the exclamation point! Find your favorite emoji :).  And remember to think about who is texting you.

8. End your day with a routine

Just as you started your day with a routine, ending with a routine is equally as important. This signals the end of the day. The stress of work and school is over and now it is time to unwind. Play a game with your children; watch a funny movie; read a book; take the dog for a walk; do yoga or meditate. Whatever you choose, make sure to end every day doing something to relax and ease the daily stressors.

9. Make it personal

Above all else, figure out what works best for you! Sometimes the answer is very apparent, other times you may need to do a little work to figure it out. You may even have to change your approach several times before you find the one that works. That is OK. Be positive Be overly positive, almost to the point of being obnoxious. You never know who you may be helping

along the way.

10. Last, but not least – Reach out to us!

Remember, we are all in this together. We have weathered the home office storm and came out at the end of the rainbow.

We feel we have a unique insight into what others may need as they begin to consider home office settings for their new builds or renovations. Even outdoor living spaces can be fitted to home office locations and are becoming more important as people spend more time at home. Don’t forget to incorporate a home spa, gym, or dedicated relaxation area for work breaks and after-work decompression.

With that, let’s have a little fun.

Share your home office or school successes and failures. Send us your photos to #MBatHome and we will share them for a little social interaction. I’ve included one of our favorite home office solutions as well as a VR Lounge created by my own at-home college student. We’d love to see how you are beating Covid-19.

But most of all, stay safe and stay healthy. We will get through this.

Mike and Sue

#MBatHome #michaelbusshome #family #stayhome

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