As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on society, many businesses across the country are finding ways to let their employees work remotely. But for anyone who’s never done it before, it can be a big change.
If you’re someone who’s been waiting for the day when your company allows you to work remotely, you’re likely hoping this trial run will result in a permanent change. But in order to make that a possibility, everyone has to actually get stuff done and prove that they can still produce quality work from home.
Thriving in a work from home environment isn’t easy for everyone and it takes some getting used to. So here are the essentials you need to have to successfully work from home, straight from someone who’s been doing it (and loving it) for years.
1. Comfortable Pants
The good news about working from home is that even if you have video conferences, no one will see you from the waist down so anything goes. There’s no need to be sitting around in uncomfortable work pants or confining skinny jeans (unless you want to, of course) so grab your favorite leggings, joggers, shorts, or even just some cute high waisted panties, and relax.
2. Noise-Canceling Head Phones
Distractions are no joke and if you have a job that requires a lot of concentration then noisy roommates, kids, or even that barking dog next door can quickly get you out of “the zone.” A pair of noise-canceling headphones will do wonders to help you out, throw on some white noise, and no one will be able to distract you!
3. Actual Real Food
When you’re comfy in your own home, it’s tempting to just snack all day or order take out. You should definitely support local businesses right now and order delivery now and then, but also consider stocking up (not hoarding) on foods that won’t go bad right away like rice, pasta, canned goods, and frozen foods.
4. Dry Shampoo
There’s no getting around it: when you’re on day three without a shower, that will absolutely be the day your boss surprises you with an invite for a video meeting in 30 minutes. Have some dry shampoo handy to at least appear clean.
5. A Space Dedicated To Working
No one says you have to work at a desk (or make-shift desk) but you should have a dedicated space to go to when you’re having trouble focusing on the couch or in bed. Set up a little corner where there aren’t many distractions that can be your “in case of emergency” office. Bonus points if you have a good chair to use.
6. A Pet Co-Worker
If you live alone, working from home can feel isolating under normal circumstances, let alone when your government is literally making you stay home even outside of your 40-hour week. There’s never been a better time to adopt or foster a pet. Animal shelters are always looking for foster parents so if you’re not ready to fully commit to a pet yet, it’s a great way to help out your community (and lower your anxiety during the crisis).
You can find your local animal shelter here.
7. A Reliable Timer Or Alarm
Just like in an office, it’s important to take breaks throughout your day when you’re working from home. Set up some type of timer or alarm to prompt you to get up from the couch and do a lap around the room. Even better, take five minutes to step outside and get some fresh air.
8. A Favorite “Background Noise” TV Show
I’m a writer (so my job requires concentration) with ADHD (so I’m easily distracted) but for some reason, I work best when I have an old faithful TV show playing in the background at a super-low volume. If you’re someone who hates silence as much as I do, turn on a show you’ve seen 1,000 times to give yourself some background noise but won’t distract you since you already know how it ends.
9. A Shower
This might seem obvious, but it’s shocking how many times I’ve sat there and wondered, Did I shower yesterday? Or the day before? If you can get away with skipping a shower now and then, go for it. But in general, try to get up and shower in the morning. Even if all you plan to do is put your leggings and favorite hoodie on, a shower will wake you up and help you feel ready for the day.
10. A Rough Schedule
When you’re vacationing at an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean, there’s no need for a schedule. But if you’re trying to be productive and professional while you work from home, there is definitely a need for one. You don’t have to schedule out every minute of your day, but having a rough plan for your day will help you stay on track and meet your boss’ expectations.
11. Some Form of Caffeine
If you need it at your regular job, you’ll definitely need it at home when your cozy bed is just a few steps away during that 3 pm struggle. If you don’t need caffeine for your regular job, then you are a wizard and this rule doesn’t apply to you.
12. A Bralette
Look, I get it, bras are the worst and no one wants to wear them. But a bralette is a nice middle ground to keep you supported and comfortable. I’d love to tell you to just let your girls go, but old white men can be perverts (shocker, I know) and you don’t want to find yourself in an uncomfortable surprise video chat.
13. A Good Messy Bun Technique
If you like to do your hair every day because it makes you feel more like yourself while everything else feels out of control, more power to you! But if you enjoy being able to sleep in and skip that step in the morning, try to throw your hair up in a way that looks somewhat professional for those surprise video chats.
14. A Way To (Theoretically) Escape
At the end of a long day at the office, your home is your refuge but when your office is your home it can be hard to shift gears and unwind at the end of the day. Between work and the general anxiety of everything going on right now, it’s important to have something to help you relax. My personal favorite is a hot bath with eucalyptus Epsom salt.
Working from home can be a dream come true for some and a total nightmare for others. Those memes floating around social media reminding you to “check on your extrovert friends” are funny, but also true. Make sure you’re staying in touch with people you love during this isolating time and do whatever you can to take care of yourself both physically and mentally.
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Aside from being a writer, Ashley is a mom of two girls and a wife to a passionate public school administrator. When she does have free time (cue laughter from working moms everywhere) she loves going to hot yoga classes, watching anything on Netflix that isn’t a cartoon, and weaving her way through every aisle of Target while listening to one of her favorite podcasts.