For nearly an entire year, remote work has become the default setting for thousands of companies. This new normal has transformed the everyday lives of teleworkers, turning living rooms into offices and couches into meeting rooms. With working from home comes the challenge of not only concentrating on your daily to-do lists, but also balancing work and home life.
If you’re a student, chances are you’re attempting to navigate a remote internship for the first time. Going into a new company can be intimidating, especially if you’ve never met any of your coworkers in person. These five essential tips for navigating a remote internship will help your productivity and overall success with your company.
1. Get dressed
This may seem like a simple task, but it is a crucial one. Working from home, it’s tempting to stay in sweatpants and a t-shirt all day, but you’d be surprised what a difference it makes to change clothes. You may not need to dress as formally as when you are going into the office, but the simple act of getting dressed in the morning sends a signal to your brain that it is time to be productive. Putting on new clothes also serves as a confidence booster; when you look good, you feel good, and when you feel good you get more done. This doesn’t just apply to clothes, either. Starting the day with a shower, brushing your teeth, and even putting on a little makeup can make all the difference in how the rest of your day plays out.
2. Create a designated workspace and settle into a routine
Working from home comes with endless distractions. From binge watching your favorite TV show to playing with your dog, it can be difficult to focus on the task at hand. Creating a designated workspace for yourself helps develop a divide between everyday life and work. Find a spot in your home that is relatively distanced from your bed and your TV set and commit to starting and completing your tasks from that set location. It’s important to keep this space neat and clean, so avoid eating lunch or cluttering unnecessary papers and projects here. Pay attention to the smaller details, because they make the biggest difference in your productivity; close out any unnecessary tabs on your computer and consolidate your sticky notes onto a single sheet of paper.
Developing a routine goes hand in hand with operating from a designated workspace. Sticking to a detailed to-do list can make all the difference in how your day goes. Avoid turning on the TV “just for a few minutes” or scrolling through your social media. Treat work hours like you are in the office, and off hours like you are at home, whether or not you leave your living space.
3. Keep clearly defined work hours
Just as you should keep your workspace separate from your living space, you should keep clearly defined work hours for yourself. Rather than working all day every day, start your work day at 9am and end at 5pm, just as you would if you were in the office. Developing boundaries between work hours and off hours makes it easier to maintain your mental well-being as well as be more productive during your workday. Just because you can answer an email at 10pm does not mean you should.
4. Socialize with your colleagues
Oftentimes, college students can benefit immensely from the connections they make during an internship. Just because you’re not physically in the office does not mean you can’t get to know your coworkers. Set up virtual lunch or coffee meetings, and make an effort to get to know those you work with. This kind of socialization is helpful not only for your work life, but for your mental health as well.
5. Reach out and ask for help
If you find yourself overwhelmed or unable to handle your current workload, there is nothing wrong with asking for help from your coworkers. Everyone is dealing with the pandemic, so chances are they will show you grace if you just reach out and admit you need a hand. If you’re working from home, chances are you’re not the only one at your company, and you’ve got a ready and willing team there to support you, even if it is virtually.