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4 work from home tips for businesses affected by coronavirus

As the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 continues to rise, businesses have issued work-from-home policies for employees. But not all business owners are prepared to manage a remote workforce. And many employees may be unfamiliar with work-from-home practices.

If you’re establishing a work-from-home policy because of coronavirus, use these four tips to foster a smooth transition.

1. Encourage workers to establish a dedicated workspace

The hardest part about working from home is finding a way to separate “home life” from “work life.” To avoid blurring those lines, encourage employees to find a space that is both comfortable and professional—whatever that means for them.

Workers who’ve never had to work from home may find it helpful to separate themselves as much as possible. That means working away from pets and kids while they refocus on their work and adapt to a work environment.

As a business owner, you may need to help your workers transition by helping them stay organized. Allow workers to check out office equipment like monitors and keyboards if they don’t have these items at home.

2. Communicate your office hours

Time can blur when you’re working from home. To make it easier, you and your workforce should create a plan for when you’ll be working and when you’re unavailable. To start, share your daily work schedule with your team and ask them to do the same.

Physical separation means team members can’t see when a co-worker is at their desk and working. If everyone communicates their office hours and availability, you’ll know how to manage your expectations, should an emergency task arise.

Communicate similarly when you have to step away from your workspace. Whether you’re walking the dog or taking a lunch break, let your teams know when you’ll be back.

3. Encourage workers to take breaks

Isolation can be a major setback when you’re working from home. It can affect your—and your workers’—energy levels and mental state. So as you think about your schedule, consider when you’re most energized and when you’re feeling sluggish. Use this self-evaluation to adjust your schedule and workload accordingly. Work on big projects when you have the most energy and take breaks when you’re feeling low.

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to schedule and take your lunch breaks. Use your breaks to get up and stretch, call a friend, or connect with your team. In stressful times, it’s essential that you take care of your body, reach out when you feel lonely, and eat nourishing food.

Finally, since you and your employees won’t have to commute, encourage them to use that time to do something for themselves. Read a book with your morning coffee, exercise, or go for a walk. Eventually, everyone will start to adopt a healthy routine.

4. Focus on team morale

Working remotely can make everyone feel disconnected, especially now that health authorities around the world recommend “social distancing.” Keep workplace connections strong by putting time on the calendar to socialize with your teams virtually. Grab a coffee or snack (from your pantry, of course) and chat about the day. You might also create a virtual water cooler with a dedicated chat or video conference link that’s live all day. Employees can pop in and out as time permits to chat with the team.

In addition, you can start fun weekly challenges that encourage employees to interact. You can share pictures of your pets and favorite coffee mugs and links to your favorite albums or playlists. Make an effort to acknowledge and celebrate birthdays and special events the same way you would at the office.