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As we settle into this (temporary) new normal – complete with social distancing, self-isolation and sheltering in place – millions of people are working from home, and many for the first time.

This transition can be challenging for many reasons: extroverts may miss their bustling offices, parents have new, very demanding underage officemates, and communication can be more difficult when people aren’t in the same room.

That said, there are ways to optimize your situation so you can continue to be productive and happy. We polled our international team for their best advice for working from home, and wanted to share their great insights:

Set up your workspace.

GSG’s CEO Dan L’Abbe’s #1 piece of advice is to set aside a specific space in your home for your workspace. He emphasized that even if it’s just a small space in the corner of your kitchen or bedroom, having a dedicated work area provides a clear separation between work and home. “When you enter your workspace you can change your mindset to be focused on work. It also allows the rest of your house to still be your home and sanctuary, so you don’t feel like you’re at work 24/7.”

Other team members recommended bringing some of the comforts of the office to your home if you can. Jeremy Overaker, our Global Talent Acquisition Manager, said having an office chair, desk, mouse, monitor, etc. has made a huge difference in his ability to continue to perform at the same level as when he’s working from an office. If that’s an option for you, it’s worth pursuing.

Keep a set schedule – including breaks!

Another common theme among the GSG team is the importance of keeping a regular schedule – and including time for breaks.

Account Director Matt Kussman notes that he sticks to a routine each day, waking up at the same time and arriving at his workspace at the same time to create consistency. That said, he also takes 10-15 minutes every few hours to get outside, get some quick exercise in, or just get his blood flowing. Executive Director of the Talent Acquisition team, David Gonzalez takes it a step further, and calendars in “Me time” to stretch, exercise, and eat. Otherwise, he noted, it’s too easy to spend 8 hours in the same position looking at the same screen.

Other team members noted the value of getting ready each day, and keeping their morning routines as close to “normal” as possible. If you normally exercise before work, don’t let working from home break that routine! And while you may trade your suit for something a little more comfortable, wearing real clothes (and not sweats) can really help you turn your “work brain” on.

Plan your day

Astrid Gravenor, a Recruiter based in our Cape Town office, starts each day by making a detailed plan with her tasks and priorities, which she says gives her day “shape and purpose.” Emthias Asin, a Senior Recruiter based in Bangalore, echoed her sentiments, saying he creates a game plan for each day with prioritized tasks. When there are interruptions, from his toddler or other distractions, he can refer back to the list to get back on track quickly.

Set boundaries

For people living with partners, spouses or roommates, setting boundaries and figuring out what works for everyone is important. Our Finance & Payroll Manager, Fannie Yao, said having a roommate who is also working from home with a similar schedule has helped it feel more like she’s in an office, “like having a coworker but we work for different companies.”

For others, minimizing interruptions is crucial: Matt said he’s let his family know that even though he’s home, he is working, and “they should treat it like I am at the office, like any other day.” Jeremy added that in his home, “when the door is closed, don’t come a-knocking!” Senior Recruiter Galawezh Mostofi has enjoyed working from home with her husband, but noted that when they are both on the phone they go to separate rooms.

Working with kids

If you have children at home, it can add a whole new level of coordination and adaptation. Account Director Kara King shared that she has her school-aged daughters make up their own schedule each day, just like she does for herself. “Having them create their schedule gives them some control back, and builds a foundation for good habits moving forward. They love following the agendas they write for themselves, and earn technology breaks for getting things done.”

Other parents recommended Cosmic Kids yoga videos from Youtube, and mixing play time with learning time throughout the day. And remember – there’s no perfect way to work from home, be a parent and be a teacher at the same time! Give yourself grace and find a structure that works for you.

Stay positive

Remember, if you’re adapting to working from home that means you have a secure job in a time of record unemployment, and the privilege of slowing the spread of Covid-19 spread in your community. When you start to feel down or overwhelmed, turn off the news, take a deep breath, and write down 5 things you’re grateful for. It may feel cheesy, but studies have shown that cultivating gratitude can improve your outlook and well-being – and there’s always something to be thankful for!