For many of us in public relations, the idea of working from home may sound like an ideal situation — until we realize its drawbacks. If you’re not used to the WFH life, it can be tougher than expected. Now that most organizations are asking employees to work from home due to the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic, it will quickly become a new normal. For our team and other, it’s important to create a new routine similar to the one established in years at the office. It may be clunky and can take some getting used to for those who like to compartmentalize their life.
Now more than ever, our clients need to know that we’re here to support them, and that holds true for nearly any professional services firm. So how can PR pros be productive while they work from home?
Create a new workspace – Create or designate a space that will be your new office. Avoid places like the bedroom or your comfy couch. Spaces that are too comfortable won’t be the most productive places for that Zoom call with a new client. For those who live in small spaces (like most of us in New York), it can be enough just to set up an area on the dining table that can be cleared when the work day is over. Try not to have anything in your workspace that you wouldn’t have at the office (with the exception of pets, who can fit right in and keep you company.
Pretend like you’re going into the office – The best things about working from home is avoiding the headache of a daily commute and sleeping in for a few extra minutes. Consider setting an alarm for a half-hour later than when you normally wake up and get ready like you were going into the office. Get dressed (as opposed to staying in sweatpants) and clock in as usual. Some women who regularly wear makeup like to take that extra step for psychological reasons, and also to look professional for their next video conference.
Remove distractions – This may be the toughest rule to follow when working from home. Let’s face it, home can have its distractions. When in the office, do you take a 3 PM coffee break, or run through a fitness routine during lunch? Then feel free to do it at home. But if you wouldn’t ordinarily start bingeing a Real Housewives reunion or Schitt’s Creek (a great choice for this weird time, by the way), don’t do it during working hours. Finish that strategy memo and then reward yourself with an Instagram break!
Set boundaries – For some of us, the blurring of living space and workspace can mean we work too much and don’t draw the line when the work day is over. Those of us in public relations and related businesses are trained to be on email or slack 24/7, but we rarely have to respond to every email. Don’t do that at home either; save it for the next morning.
Stay calm – During this time of uncertainty, it’s natural to worry about the unknown and what-ifs. Stick to your routine. Remember that, even if this period of social isolation is longer than we’d like, it is temporary. Communicate with your colleagues as you normally would. They’re probably thinking the same things as you and can’t wait to be back to normal. Until then, keep a positive outlook on a less-than-ideal situation and don’t forget to wash your hands.