A Beginner’s Guide to Working From Home in the Age of Coronavirus

The threat of a global pandemic is making remote workers of thousands

Photo: Getty Images

TThose of us who have chosen to work from home some or all of the time are already well-acquainted with the joys and pitfalls of the home workspace. We have picked out our favorite mugs, perfected our morning rituals, and pledged allegiance to our desk organization orthodoxies.

But what if you’re new to remote work or, like thousands of workers around the world, suddenly find yourself stuck at home to prevent a coronavirus outbreak? The short commute from your bed to your desk might sound appealing, but working from home is harder than it sounds.

Where (and when) do you start? How do you stay focused, in an environment filled with your favorite distractions? How do you collaborate with colleagues? How do you stave off loneliness? Does lunch have to be leftovers eaten standing by the fridge?

Forge is here for you, with guides and tips for every aspect of the remote work life:

First things first: Clean your home. It’s an investment in your sanity and focus. Nobody does their best work in a wasteland of dirty laundry and soiled takeout cartons.

Next, here are your work-from-home marching orders, including the most basic rule: Wear pants. (Pajama pants don’t count.) Also, wake up early, and block out your day in time chunks.

Like it or hate it, video conferencing is a key element in a dispersed workforce, as the surge in stock prices for the videoconferencing company Zoom attests. Here’s how to communicate well in this relatively new format. (To start with, look at the camera, not yourself!)

And if you find yourself needing to do a presentation or speech via video, don’t fret: Public speaking on a screen can actually be great, if you do it right.

What if you get lonely? Here’s how to stay connected with your colleagues. And if you’re worried about your anxiety flaring up when cooped up at home, we have advice for that, too.

One of the hardest things about working from home is knowing when to step away for lunch or a walk, and when to stop for the day, without the external clues we rely upon in an office. Pick a quitting time, and then embrace the hard stop. When the clock strikes that hour, stand up from your desk and go do something else. (Bonus points if you’re efficient enough to quit early.)

Once you get yourself set up, you may find you love working from home, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to keep doing it forever. Here’s how to adjust to an office again after a sojourn among the growing tribe of remote workers. Just don’t forget your favorite mug.

Editorial director at Medium, mom, gardener, cook. Formerly at Quartz.

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