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The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown many organizations nationwide into full-time telework. Brookings suggested that, at one point, over half of all employed adults in the U.S. were working from home – a major hike in an already growing trend towards remote work.

So, what has this full-time telework shown us? For many, it has illuminated the distinct possibility that telework could be the way forward – or, at least, a part of it. Where many companies and organizations may have had reservations about telework, this forced trial period has given them the chance to see the value and possibilities of teleworking.

Organizations across the country, including Zillow, Twitter and Square, Facebook, and Nationwide, have already stated that they are laying the groundwork to establish permanent, full-time telework programs for at least some of their employees. Even sectors that have traditionally not teleworked, such as local and state government, are considering the possibility of continuing telework for office employees after experiencing success with telework during COVID-19.

Tips from an Experienced Teleworker

Trish at a race in Grant Park, 2019

Long-time teleworker Trish Albert began working remotely full-time when she started with a large IT company. In fact, her team lives all across the East Coast. For many of us, it may be hard to imagine your team being so far away from you. But, thanks to technology and some healthy telework practices, you can be successful no matter where you are.

The Benefits

There are lots of benefits to full-time telework, which people may be realizing more now that they have made the transition to full-time telework for COVID-19. Here are some from Trish:

  • It saves money. Not driving to work means less wear and tear on your car, which means less money spent on gas, tires and oil changes.
  • It saves time. Instead of commuting 10 hours a week into the office, use those 10 hours for something else, whether it be going for a bike ride or sleeping in.
  • It improves your overall well-being. Remove the stress of fighting traffic to and from work each day – instead of spending that time stressed out driving down a highway, invest that time in other activities that help to support overall well-being, such as getting some exercise.

So, even if you’ve teleworked in the past, or as a result of COVID-19, how can you take that to the next level – especially if you will be teleworking for the long haul?

Here is what Trish says helps her stay productive and connected:

  • Get a large monitor (or two)
    • Having a large monitor “just makes life better.” Especially if you will be at home for the foreseeable future, large monitors can make it easier to read, focus, and feel like you’re in a real workspace. Plus, often if you ask your company, they will be able to provide you with the monitors!
  • Set up an ergonomic space
    • Maybe in your haste to adapt to telework during COVID-19, your workspace became an ironing board or the couch. As you transition to a more permanent telework situation, consider setting up a dedicated space that makes sense for you long-term. Even if it is in the spare bedroom or a corner of the kitchen, having a dedicated space can make it feel like the more permanent work situation.
    • If you can, consider investing in a standing desk – especially if you’re used to having one in the office – it can help reduce the harms of sitting all day and can give you the added bonus of being able to keep an eye on your kids.
  • Start practicing regular hours, if you can
    • With COVID-19, schedules need to be a little more flexible in many households. But, if you can start setting some normal work hours for yourself, it can help you to establish a routine that you can continue even as you telework post-COVID-19.
  • Establish weekly check-ins with your team
    • Being a permanent remote worker comes with a lot of benefits, but you may still miss some of the face-to-face interaction of being in the office. Trish suggests that having standing weekly meetings can help you get some face time, check-in with your coworkers, and generally eliminate some of the loneliness that some experience with full-time telework.
  • Make time to get some exercise
    • As a competitive biker for the last 20 years, exercise is a key part of Trish’s life. She regularly trains 5 days a week, so being able to telework full-time gives her the chance to spend some of the time that she would be commuting and use that for training, instead. But you don’t have to be a competitive biker to integrate some activity into your day when you’re teleworking. Hop on a virtual ride, do some yoga from Youtube – whatever works for you!

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