5 Things I Learned While Working Remotely in Quarantine

People dream of jobs that can be done from a remote island or at home. No need to worry about what to wear to the office or complain about traffic during a commute. Little did I know, working at home would have unexpected difficulties. Below are the things I’ve learned during my three months of working from home and notes about remote work that I wish I knew before🤗

1. Remote Isn’t For Everyone 👩🏻‍💻📱

I’ve learned that I thrive on in-person interactions and I like taking a quick breather from an intense project to ask how a coworker’s weekend was. While working from home, these sorts of casual conversations were more difficult to initiate because it was harder to tell if someone was currently immersed in a task or in the middle of a virtual meeting. As a result, my interactions with my coworkers were reduced mainly to scheduled meetings and only business-related conversations. A solution my company has tried is our virtual happy hours on Fridays to talk about non-work related stuff. We played co-operation online games like SpaceTeam to get the fun going.

2. Create a Separate Space to Focus on Work 🏡

During the first two weeks I began working from home, I locked myself in my bedroom to avoid disturbing the rest of the house with my meeting calls. I only left the room to get food or use the bathroom, which didn’t set up a good routine. I spent long hours just sitting and skipping short breaks during my usual daily routine. In addition, I also found myself gravitating towards bringing my work into bed because it is comfortable, but sitting in bed for long hours created painful postures and reduced productivity. I started having nightmares about work in bed and hearing the slack notification sound in my dreams. I recently started working outside in the backyard to soak in some sunshine and get fresh air to change up the scenery.

3. Have a Strict Timeline to Follow ⏰

My daily routine quickly dissolved once working from home was mandated. I no longer had to wake up two hours early to get ready, daily walks and commutes to the office dissipated, and lunchtime was now determined by my stomach growls. Furthermore, working past the 9 to 5 schedule felt more natural as there were now no physical boundaries that separated these two aspects of my life. I kept checking Slack at night and responding to emails while getting ready for bed because I thought this would make me more productive. However, I started feeling burnt out and unmotivated for work because that’s on my mind 24. That was when I realized I needed to better organize my new lifestyle and set boundaries between home and work. Using Google Calendar, schedules marked down to the hour, and checklists, I was able to better control the flow of time that seemed to have blurred during this quarantine.

4. Clean Up Your Windows for Share Your Screen 💻

Initially, my windows were littered with thousands of tabs and other random screens. When I am in a meeting and someone asks to see what I’m working on, I am always scrambling to find the right tab or furiously scrolling through a bunch of windows to find the right one. One habit that has helped is organizing my windows by projects. A step further is to prepare the relevant meeting material in a window you want to present before the meeting so it is right there when you click that share screen button. Just as you want to organize your notes while preparing for a meeting, setting up your window is part of that preparation.

5. Consider Future Jobs that are More Resilient to Pandemics 💪

As a current college student, these co-ops exist to help me better understand where I want to be once I enter the workforce full-time. I’ve seen a lot of friends struggle to find jobs or get laid off in industries that depend on people leaving their homes such as travel, food, and public transportation. This made me more wary about the type of industry I want to pursue and elevate the standards I have for my full-time role.

While this is an uncertain time for everyone, I hope to share my findings with someone who is in a similar remote work struggle during this uncertain time and reflect in a more positive light.

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Megan Lau

Megan Lau

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⭐️4th year Computer Science and Marketing Analytics Major at Northeastern⭐️ Previous co-ops as a Software Engineer, Associate Product Manager, and IT Engineer👩