Coronavirus 101: How to be the most productive remote worker

Everyone’s three favorite words in the office might become a temporary reality with the rise of Coronavirus in the US.

Eleven people in the US have died from the virus, according to The New York Times. California declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, as the state has more cases of coronavirus than any other in the US. With more and more cases of the coronavirus are popping up around the US, workplaces have shifted into alternate modes of operation in case businesses have to close due to an outbreak.

That means working remotely – or work from home – will likely be a method of work for many businesses including in areas where the virus is most active.

Some US companies have started to take precautions including commercial real estate firm SquareFoot, which recently imposed a travel ban for all employees. In a company-wide email, the company’s VP said business will go on as usual but it urged employees to travel with laptops and chargers each night. For employees who recently traveled to any country with a warning level 2 or 3, SquareFoot said that employees would have to work from home for two weeks upon return.

With the possibility of remote working becoming the norm in an outbreak, it might be a tricky situation for workers who have never been in a situation to, well, work from anywhere outside the office. Working anywhere but your desk might feel uncomfortable, but there are ways that it can work.

Here’s a rundown on finding the best remote working situation for you.

Find a comfortable area to work

For some people, parking their laptop on their lap while laying in bed does the trick when working from home. But for most, it’ll encourage laziness and maybe even a nap or two.

In normal situations, working at a coffee shop would be the go-to to maximize production and limit distractions, but being the office would be closed, find an area in your apartment or home that works for you (and where your internet works, too).

In the event that you are forced to work from home, it’s wise to prepare a workspace at home that will help you achieve optimal production. Try to find a spot where distractions are limited. Perhaps that’s dedicating an entire room to work-related operations only or setting up shop in your kitchen, where a TV isn’t present.

Remember: Working remotely is what most workers would quit their current job. It’s a good way to establish some belief with your employer if they are still wary about offering the option beyond times of need.

Set a routine

If your office is closed for weeks, establish a routine just like you would at work.

If you normally arrive at the office at 9 a.m., do the same at home. Be sure to follow a course that will allow you to complete your work just like you would normally. If you have hidden patterns throughout the day, like getting coffee in the afternoon, mimic a similar routine at home. Like taking mid-day walks with coworkers? Take a stroll around the block.

Most importantly, remember to take lunch: You’re allowed to take the same amount of time as you would in the office.

Meetings and schedules

Managers should be in communication with all employees regarding their working schedules and any remote meetings.

Since workers will be working in an unusual environment, it’s important to be flexible and find the right solution for each member.

“Managers need to choose their battles,” analyst Teresa Douglas, author of “Working Remotely,” told CNN. “Working 9-5 isn’t going to work for everyone, even for clients and customers who are also probably dealing with coronavirus.”

In preparation for remote meetings, workers should ensure their laptops can properly video chat through programs such as Google, Skype, Zoom and other providers. Remote conference calls are also an option.

Invest in productivity

If coronavirus shuts down your office for weeks, it might be the time to splurge on that pair of noise-canceling headphones that you’ve had your eye on.

Companies like Beats by Dre and Bose provide various options that will fit your budget and needs.

If your kitchen table isn’t doing it for you, maybe it’s better to invest in a separate desk that is designed strictly for work. Amazon and other online stores have multiple options that can be set up in a matter of minutes.

If you are having trouble being productive while working from home, try out the 10-minute timer technique to get your work done.