The appearance of the new coronavirus is changing the lives of many people around the world.
The outbreak of the disease, which has already killed more than 7,000 people on the planet and infected hundreds of thousands, has prompted several governments to take drastic measures to prevent its spread.
These include restrictions on the movement of people and calls for them to stay in their homes.
As a result, thousands of people are likely to work for the first time from their homes doing what is called remote work. Now, as freelance certified translators, we are very used to working in this way, and as people use computers more and more for work, this style of employment is not new and has been gaining ground in recent years.
Millions of professionals around the world are working from home, cafes and other temporary locations.
And the forecast is that by 2035 there will be more than 1 billion remote workers in the world.
Working on our certified translation service, we are quite used to this type of employment, but if this is one of your first times working at home because of the coronavirus outbreak, you may face some difficulties or uncertainties.
What's the best way to be efficient and keep your spirits up?
Here are five tips for working from home during coronavirus quarantine and for not failing in the attempt.
1. Get dressed for success!
For some people, the prospect of staying in their pyjamas all day is the most tempting aspect of working from home.
But bathing and dressing up will not only improve your mental state, it will prepare you psychologically to start working, according to research carried out on the subject.
The style of clothing you wear to work depends on the type of person you are and the nature of the job you have. Some people find that dressing formally is helpful and appropriate if they need to make video calls. The famous dressing from the waist up for such occasions is, of course, an option.
For many others, dressing to go to work also means having to bathe and change the clothes they associate with sleep and rest, even if that means only wearing a clean T-shirt or jeans.
Similarly, changing your work clothes when your work schedule is over - even if you are at home - helps your brain to understand that the day is over. I should try this last point, since I always struggle to leave the certified translation work until the morning when it arrives late at night!
2. Set limits
If you work for a company, you will probably have established working hours, and it's important to keep them when you're working from home.
Start your day at the same time you would normally arrive at the office or workplace, and end your day at the same time. In this way your are of course, free from the dreaded commute and the time it eats out of your day!
Experts have advised going to bed at a reasonable time to get enough sleep and then waking up at the usual time.
Since you’ll be stuck at home for more hours than usual, it’s also a great time to get some extra exercise, whether that’s hitting the gym where still possible, or setting up an exercise regime at home.
At the end of a workday, it's best to turn off the computer, sort through papers and other items.
If you have space, set aside a specific, separate area in your home where you can set up, ideally with a desk and chair similar to your workplace.
The advice from the UK Health Service is that you should adjust a chair so that you can use the keyboard with your wrists and forearms straight and level with the floor.
If there are other people in the house, it is essential to find a space where you will not be disturbed.
It's also important not to "overreact" because you're eager to work from home, experts say.
Many people tend to over-communicate when working from home, either by wanting to 'be seen' to ensure that people know what they are doing. That's fine, but don't overdo it.
3. Leave the house (if you are not self-isolating)
Working from home shouldn't mean you have to stay cooped up in it all day, go out at least once, if you can. While working on our certified translations, our team all try to get out of the house for a break at least once during our, admittedly irregular, work hours.
Fresh air helps to break down mental blocks and see your tasks afresh when you get back to your desk.
Getting out of the house early in the morning, even if it means walking around the block, helps to feel like it's time to work.
There's a mental angle to every individual that makes you feel like you're working. Find ways to set those boundaries, otherwise it becomes difficult to disconnect. If you can't go out, you might even bring the office environment into the house.
If you like the hustle and bustle and being surrounded by people, you can use sound to help create some of that atmosphere.
If this appeals to you there are applications that play background noise, like a train moving along the tracks, or the conversation in a coffee shop.
4. Talk on the telephone
More and more people are using email instead of picking up the phone and talking to colleagues and contacts. When you spend a day working on your own, calling people and having a conversation can be much more stimulating and productive than an email chain. When you're at work, you're more likely to interact with colleagues, but when you work from home, you can go all day without talking to anyone.
Take time to pick up the phone and have a real conversation, instead of doing everything with email and instant messaging.
Some companies we have spoken with have staff working temporarily from home in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak and they plan to talk to each other for 30 minutes every day through video conferencing.
At approximately lunchtime, they'll talk on video calls about… nothing in particular. This is to make sure people don't lose their social connection.
5. Take regular breaks
It's good to have a routine when you work from home, but work shouldn't get monotonous. You shouldn't be stuck at the computer screen all day.
It's important to take regular breaks, get up from your desk and move around like you would in an office.
Scientific studies have found that short breaks during the day are more beneficial than less frequent but longer breaks.
Many remote workers recommend the Pomodoro technique, a time management method that divides your workday into 25-minute blocks. Each period is followed by a five-minute break. This sounds like a good idea to me, one which may well improve my concentration when working on certified translations from home.
It's also important to get up, stretch, move around and even take a short walk to take a break from work and the screen.
Being cooped up for a break can mean your productivity levels drop, you get more tired and you are less motivated to complete what you are working on. As freelance certified translators we’re used to working from home, so maybe give a few of our suggestions a go if you’ve just started or are about to start working from home due to this difficult days we are experiencing. We wish you good luck with it, and most importantly, stay healthy!