Today, as America grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, working remotely has suddenly become mandatory for millions of workers. To help these first-timers get their footing, we asked several Airstream owners who work from the road for their best advice on how to maintain your productivity and sanity when your office is the living room.
Set and Maintain a Schedule.
While working from home may seem like a license to work ever-changing hours, that approach is ultimately a recipe for frustration for everyone affected by the situation. Setting regular work hours allows co-workers and family members to know when you are available and when you aren’t. It also prevents boundary-blind clients and bosses from taking advantage of you by asking for “just a quick call” at 9 pm.
Put Some Clothes On, for Pete’s Sake!
Contrary to the popular imagination among office-bound staffers, their colleagues who work remotely do not spend all day in their pajamas and bunny slippers. Well, the successful ones don’t. Dressing for work as part of your morning routine helps put your mind in work mode. No, you don’t need to slip into a power suit. Airstreamer Jake Kahut, who helps run his wife’s business from their Flying Cloud suggests dressing “like you’re going to work someplace public, like Starbucks.”
Clarify the Rules with Family and Others.
This can be a tough one and may take a lot of reinforcement. The people in your life might not fully comprehend the concept of working remotely and may need to learn that while you are physically at home, you are indeed at work. Make sure the kids understand when/why they are allowed to interrupt you. Let your mom know that you still can’t talk for an hour in the middle of the workday. Lay down the law with the neighbor who asks if you can keep an eye on her kids for “just a minute” while she runs to the grocery store.
Establish a Dedicated Work Area.
This is another important tool for getting your head right for work. Heading to the home office/den/spare bedroom sends a message to yourself and your family that you are “at work.” Airstream owner Austin Mann, a travel photographer, says your home office can be anywhere but the kitchen or dining room. “Don’t work where you eat,” says Austin. “Eating meals in another space gives you a break from the job and will keep you focused when it is time to work.”
Block the Audio Distractions.
Austin is a big fan of noise-canceling headphones – and he doesn’t even have a houseful of kids running around. He also recommends tools like BrainFM.com, which offers music designed to mask distractions and boost focus. Airstream has also curated a special Spotify playlist of ambient music to help you focus, relax, and be productive while working from home.
This is good advice no matter where you work. Airstreamer and fitness coach Christine Willers suggests that you get up and stretch every two hours at a minimum. Christine and other Airstreamers say one great joy of conducting business from an Airstream is taking work-break hikes in beautiful locations. You might not be working from a National Park, but if you can safely take a walk to get the blood pumping, make time to do that.
As a wise man once said, never let a serious crisis go to waste. Use this time to indulge in activities that don’t fit into your normal commute-burdened work week. Fix a fancy dinner on a Tuesday night. Eat lunch with your kids every day. Spend an hour in the morning doing yoga or working out with an online class.
These are crazy, difficult times, but they won’t last forever. Before too long you’ll be back in the office. Follow the advice of these Airstreamers, and you will both deliver for the boss and create some great memories for yourself – all from the comfort of home.