Now that most school districts have released their back to school plans, the reality of just how challenging the school year will be is setting in for many parents. With most kids learning from home full time or several days a week, parents working from home are challenged with how to juggle caring for and teaching their children while also completing the work for their job.
As someone who has worked from home for years and helps many small businesses blend their home and office, we have compiled several tips and resources for those doing it for the first time.
The Home Office
If you have the ability to set up a home office in a spare room, basement, or other quiet space in your home, this is your best bet. Put yourself away from the TV, pets, food, kids, and any other distractions. If you have been working at the kitchen table, on the sofa, or with a temporary desk since the stay at home order, take some time and invest in your workspace.
- We recommend this standing desk to help keep you moving.
- The best investment you can make in your workspace is a second monitor. Studies show employees can be up to 40% more productive with a dual monitor for $150 or less.
- Do your best to set regular hours and get yourself ready for the work day as you would normally. Shorts and a t-shirt are fine, but get out of those pajamas
- Provide adequate light, keep your space organized. Keep in mind that if you do a lot of zoom meetings then lighting and windows should be in front of you and not backlighting you
- Run a speed test on your internet connection when others aren’t online. Make sure you are getting the speed you are paying for. I would recommend at least a 100mb connection
- If you are using your own computer and it’s getting old then it might be time to upgrade. If it is already running Catalina for Mac or Windows 10 for a PC then you may not need a new one, but you could see a huge boost in performance by adding memory and/or upgrading your hard drive with an SSD. This is simpler than you think and is fairly inexpensive. You can use this site to see what your options are from Crucial.
The Shared Office
Cultivate and other shared office spaces provide parents with the option to get out of the house and work productively without the distractions of home. Prices and amenities vary considerably, with most from at $300-$500 per month. Many employers offer a coworking stipend that can cover a few hundred dollars a month.
- Find a shared office or coworking space that is as close to your home as possible. The last thing you want to do is commute. The idea isn’t that you are going to work here 9-5, but that you have a place you can come to when you need to get work done without the distractions of pets and kids.
- Make sure you can use the space 24/7. You may find that you need to come in very early in the morning, late in the evening, or even on the weekend.
- Get a dedicated space where you can leave an extra monitor, a few office accessories, and some personal items. There may be less expensive options if you use a floating or hot desk, but it’s a plus if you can set up and leave a space that’s all yours.
- If you need to meet in person with fellow employees and customers or to interview job candidates then make sure you have access to private meeting rooms.
- If you are a business owner or you need customers to send mail or packages, make sure the shared office space provides you with a professional business address or suite number.
Working from home has a learning curve, and more parents are doing it than ever out of necessity. Keeping work as routine and separated from family life as possible is one of the key strategies to boost your productivity and create a work/life balance. By providing tips and opportunities, Cultivate is here to support you during this difficult transition.