Canada’s massive work from home experiment has begun! To help curb the spread of COVID-19, more Canadians than ever before are working from home – and CIRA is no exception. Along with a number of other measures, CIRA has closed its office and told all of its employees to work from home. One of our top priorities is the health and wellness of our employees, and a big part of that has been taking deliberate action to stay connected and engaged with our CIRA team by sharing stories, tips, and pet photos while working remotely.
Over the years CIRA has primarily operated an in-office, in-person culture, with a flexible work from home policy – but pivoting to a fully remote organization overnight has really changed the way we work together. We’re all about building connections at CIRA, but it has become a lot harder to feel connected when we don’t have organic conversation in the kitchen or passing each other around the office. It’s been an adjustment for everyone, so we’ve made sure to check-in with each other, find new ways to connect virtually, and share our own tips of working from home.
Now we’d like to share are a few of our favourite work from home tips with you:
1. Set a pre-work routine.
Have a morning pre-work routine that feels a bit like your regular routine. It could be a brisk walk down the block (while practicing social distancing!) followed by coffee and a banana can trick your brain into thinking you've done your commute and it's time for work mode. A “work from home commute” beyond the few steps from your room to the kitchen table where you’re working, can help with the mental shift to work time.
2. Dress as though you're going to an office.
Put on a dress shirt and wear slacks or jeans. Resist the temptation to lounge around in PJs or sweatpants (we know it’s hard). Dressing for the office can really help get your brain into work gear – even though people may not see it.
3. Set up a workspace.
If you can, find a spot in the house you can claim as your “desk.” Ideally it should actually be a desk but any flat surface will do (not your lap). If you can find a room with a door on it that’s a huge bonus, but if you live in a smaller place or have a house full of kids, just do the best you can. Having a designated space will help your brain flip into “work mode.” Once you have claimed your real estate, do everything you can to set your workstation up ergonomically. Your neck and back will thank you for taking the time to get this right.
4. Get out of the house (but be smart about it)!
Make sure to get out of the house at least once a day. Even if you just sit on your porch or balcony getting some fresh air really helps clear the mind. If you have a check-in meeting with someone, try a walking meeting on the phone. Remember: be sure to practice safe social distancing while you’re out and about (and stop touching your face!).
5. Give yourself breaks.
There are very few interruptions in a work from home environment, so make sure you stop to stretch or take breaks. Try setting a timer on your phone for an hour, to remind yourself to get up and take a break. This is also a great time to test out the Pomodoro Technique. Your "water cooler" conversation time isn't happening like it normally would so make sure you get up and stretch and walk around (starting/flipping loads of laundry makes for a great ten minute break).