The option to work from home is usually thought of as a perk, something that companies dangle to attract talented workers who dislike the daily commute. But with rising concerns about COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, more companies are telling employees to telework to prevent possible infections from spreading in the workplace.
"Over the last few weeks, CDC has been on dozens of calls with different partners in the health, retail, education, and business sectors in the hopes that employers begin to respond in a flexible way to differing levels of severity, to refine their business response plans as needed,” says Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Some companies already have decided that one of the best ways they can deter the spread of COVID-19 among their employees in cities like Seattle, an early center of the U.S. outbreak, is to tell them to work from home. Many of these companies — Twitter, Facebook, Google and Microsoft, for example — are tech giants with employees who are already accustomed to working from home.
But according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, only 29 percent of Americans work from home on a regular basis. That means that if more companies temporarily increase their telework options, many employees might have to work from home for an extended period for the first time. Here are four tips on how to work from home effectively amid the coronavirus outbreak:
1. Map out a home office.
If you'll be working from home for a week or longer, you'll probably need more space than the kitchen counter. Try to carve out a dedicated work area that's free from distraction and offers a semblance of privacy from your domestic life. Also, be sure to consider whether the chair and desk you'll be working from are comfortable enough to use for several hours. Your employer might be able to provide ergonomically correct options and advice.