Preparation Tips to Work at Home – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Edition

Helpful Tips to Prepare in the Wake of the Coronavirus

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You can’t escape the frenzy of media surrounding the Coronavirus (COVID-19), and if you are like a lot of others, it’s creating some concern. With that concern and uneasiness comes a need to be prepared. Being prepared has taken the shape of people flocking to stores in search of hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, and stocking up on cold medicine. However, it is also a good time to get prepared to work from home.

A few months ago I posted a version of this information geared towards continuing to be productive when stuck at home because of a snow day. The same information is very relevant to this situation as well, if not more so. If a situation arises where you do need to be home, it could be for a considerably longer period of time. The more prepared you are, the easier a transition will be if you find yourself at home due to a school or daycare closing, a workplace needing to close down, or any number of reasons that could lead to quarantine.

How would you get your work done, still be productive, and not lose your mind if being at home is your only option? 

The Time to Plan is Today

A number of companies are communicating to their employees their expectations, and the precautionary steps they are taking around this situation. If you have not seen anything from your management, ask! 

If working at home is an option, the next step is to map out what it will take to work from home successfully. Doing this now will keep you from having to scramble at the last minute. Think through things like needed supplies, hardware and software.  

In some cases, working from home may not be an option, so find out if the company has a contingency plan, and be clear about what is expected of you as part of that plan. Will you need to use accumulated paid time off? Will they implement an alternate time off plan? This is one place where you don’t want to be surprised.

While we can’t anticipate every possible outcome, there are a few other things that might seem less obvious now, but will be much bigger in the midst of it. If both you, your spouse or significant other, or roommate are working from home how does that affect your work? Can your home internet handle this? Where can you go if you need privacy, or quiet for a call or video call?

Adjust Your Routine and Habits to the Situation

Think about your normal work day routine, and how you need to tweak it to fit the situation. Plan a version of your routine accordingly. Some examples – start your day earlier, start your work day later, time block around family schedules (this helps to avoid overlap of calls or quiet time to be head down working), and schedule breaks in your routine. If you have kids, they may be home too, so make sure you consider that as part of your plan.

Yes, Go to the Store and Stock Up

The CDC and other government agencies have recommendations on things you need to be prepared. I’ve provided a few helpful links below, but in addition to the emergency preparedness items, stock up on snacks and things you like to eat. Stock up on some treats, something to splurge on (don’t forget the Oreos), or even simple things like popcorn. If you hit the office vending machine every afternoon at 2:00 for a pick-me-up soda then have some on hand.

Prepare the Household

Clear off the dining room table if that is where you need to work, or replace that bulb in the lamp on your desk. Think about the things that will impede your ability to be ready to work right away. Bring your laptop and charger home every night!

Again, if you have kids at home you will inevitably need to keep them busy while you get some work done. Make a list of age appropriate chores, make sure you have some books for reading time. If you have older kids, have them help out with some of your busy work.

Decide on and discuss boundaries. You will probably need some do not disturb time, so let them know that. Make it clear that if the office door is closed, or you have your headphones on, that this means quiet/do not disturb time. Make a list of activities for when boredom sets in – movies, crafts, coloring books, and puzzles.

The prep you do now will ultimately pay off should you find yourself home for an extended period of time. I would love to hear some of your tips for preparing for this possibility. Please share in the comments below.

Helpful Resources

Resources to keep up on the quickly changing situation:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Situation Summary (updated regularly)

What You Should Know about COVID-19 (CDC)

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak at World Health Organization (WHO)

Resources to help you prepare:

Prevention and Treatment (from the CDC)

Coronavirus: Safety and Readiness Tips (Red Cross)

A Guide: How To Prepare Your Home For Coronavirus (NPR)

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