As you know, coronavirus has forced people into a work from home situation for the next few weeks. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended social distancing as one way to combat the spread of disease, extroverts face something equally insidious—lack of social interaction. As a copywriter, I have worked on many projects from the comfort of my home office, and while it sounds awesome, it’s not for everyone.
Sure, working from home has its perks—you’re always there to accept deliveries, you can play whatever music you want as loudly as you want, you don’t have to abide the loud chewing or ungracious smells of your colleagues, and pants are optional when your meetings only take place on Zoom. But you also have to contend with isolation and distraction, plus losing productivity feels less urgent than it once did.
First and foremost, it’s important to realize that working from home is a luxury. Turn on the news and you’ll see another story of a company that has had to either close entirely or reduce its workforce, which is especially troubling in a time of precarious health care and rapidly spreading disease. With that said, doing the following will hopefully set you up for success, regardless of why you’re telecommuting, or for how long.
I know it’s tempting to stay in your jammies all day, let alone actually get out of bed. It’s a trap. If you don’t get ready for the day, your day never really starts. Instead of working from home, you’re just at home, with the occasional work check-in. If you’re in this for the long haul, you need to treat it like any other day at the office, minus the office part. Also, getting ready helps you remind yourself that you’re still part of society.
Have an Actual Work Space
Do not work from the bed, couch, or futon. Actually, don’t work from anywhere that lets you recline. Instead, find a space in your home that is clearly defined as where work happens. Extroverts are easily distracted, so we need these nuances to help us feel connected when we need to be.
Get Outside Sometimes
Working from home can be extremely lonely and isolating—you need to get out into the world sometimes. Fresh air and exercise is extremely important for your physical and mental health. Get out of your chair—sitting is more or less the new smoking, plus it’s mind-numbing to stare at the same wall or window all day. A great way to get out is to take your dog for a walk, plus studies show that pets help reduce stress levels.
Give Them Some Slack
Working remotely is tough for introverts because we thrive on the relationships we build with others. When you don’t see your colleagues, you miss the impromptu meetings and side conversations that spin little ideas into big projects. Slack is a great way to maintain relationships for your work life, as well as your sanity. Check in with people even if you don’t have a work-related reason to. Send them dumb tweets. Don’t be afraid of italics and exclamation points. It’ll never be the same as grabbing a midday coffee or a happy hour after work, but it helps to remind people that you’re not just out there in the void. And when the conversation does center around work, know when to switch from Slack to phone. You’ll be surprised how much can get lost in translation when you only type.
Know When to Say When
For extroverts, boundaries are hard. When you work in an office, the separation between work and home is easy—you’re in either one place or the other. That doesn’t exist when you work from home. It’s all on the same continuum, which is why setting boundaries is critical. Set a definite quitting time and stick to it. I promise people will still like you, even if you’re not available around the clock.