Career Support: Tips for Students (or Anyone!) Working Remotely
Finding creative ways to work from home can be a challenge. While there are numerous articles about working remotely, few feature best practices for college students. Many students are not just working online, they’re also taking online classes. In addition, they’re sometimes facing other new challenges like working out of their childhood home or with multiple roommates.
To navigate this new way to work, the Peer Education staff at Student Engagement & Career Development share what helped them settle into their remote work environment.
1: Create your environment
Sometimes it’s the little things that can make a big difference. With work environments, this could be anything from inspiring screensavers to a clear kitchen table to work from. Here’s what Angela Chang, who is earning a Bachelor of Science in literacy, learning & leadership this spring, suggests:
“Having a good workspace is important. I work next to a window so I can look outside and I’m able to crack open the window if I need fresh air. That can be helpful when we’re constantly indoors.”
Abril Chavez, a junior studying anthropology, has some tips for working from home in a small space:
“One tip is to create a work zone; some space to do your work or store all of your notes and tools in the same area to distinguish between work and personal life. For me, my work zone is a desk where I have all my notebooks and school/work-related papers organized (similar to having my own cubicle of some sort). If I have a test or important meeting, I put a testing/meeting sign up, so my family is aware.”
2: Coordinate with others around you
Morgan Evans, who is earning a Bachelor of Arts in English this spring, emphasizes the importance of also communicating with those you live with:
“Whether you’re quarantining with your family, partner or roommates, it can be difficult to spend all your time with the same people. I’ve found that communication with my husband is key to improving both of our moods. We’ve found that being honest about when we need to be alone, whether it’s to focus on school, work or just have some time to ourselves, has made it much easier to be stuck in our small apartment for so long!”
Abril notes the importance of coordinating schedules.
“Clearly communicate with your roommates about schedules. Post schedules on the fridge or a common space so that everyone is aware of each other's work schedules and then during that time, avoid doing loud tasks such as vacuuming or cooking.”
3: Increase your communication
Addy Berger, a first-year psychology student, feels strongly about the importance of communication:
“It’s important to be proactive with work and speak directly to others when you need assistance or clarification. If you have questions for your coworkers, FaceTime or Zoom them! Even if you want to just say hello or check in on a friend or coworker, it’s important to keep frequent communication.”
SECD uses Slack to communicate projects and events, share articles and stay in contact to have fun with recipe shares and pet photos.
Brad Krakowitz, a pre-business freshman, has found that critical to his work.
“Being able to communicate through Slack has been incredibly helpful to remote work. Having constant communication with supervisors and team members is really important when working remotely. It's also fun to use the emojis in Slack!
4: Keep a routine
“What has really helped me is following a routine — things like getting up at a certain time, getting ready and having breakfast. Even though I am not physically in the office, it makes it much easier and I am more productive when I follow my normal routine.
5: Mix it up to keep creative and productive
“Switching up my daily routine in small ways can make a big difference for my productivity and creativity. I like to work outside in my backyard to not feel so secluded in my house! If it’s available, stepping outdoors, even for just a short break, reminds me there’s still a whole world outside!”
She also suggests incorporating a to-do list into a daily routine.
“Writing a to-do list each morning makes it easier to prioritize what needs to be accomplished. This helps me stay on top of my daily and weekly tasks.”
6: Motivate with music
Jeremiah Isely, a senior studying geographic information systems technology, usually assists students with career questions in LifeLab, a drop-in appointment space. Now that students are “dropping-in” virtually, here’s how he prepares for his shifts:
“Working remotely, we are missing most of the sensory cues that usually get us mentally prepared for a shift. Music can transport me anywhere, so I use music to prepare for and enhance my remote work experience. Before a shift, I like to listen to something high-energy, high BPM and with plenty of bass (anything Dance/Electronic) or something funny or ironic like any of the songs in the Coronavirus Awesome Mix 2020 on Spotify.”
7: Take Your Breaks!
Even though you may be working from your couch, it is still important to take a break! Communicate with your team members when you need to step away, stretch, have a snack or be offline. Addy agrees.
“It’s okay to take short breaks. Sitting and staring at a screen can be really draining so getting up to walk around and stretch is important!"
Here are some stretches to try when you need a quick break.
8: Give Your Eyes a Break
Jeremiah says it’s not just a break for your body and mind.
“Can you remember the last time you spent a whole day without staring at a digital display – no computer, cell phone, no tv? If you are struggling with this, you’re not alone.” Jeremiah knows there are statistics on side effects linked to excessive screen time, and he says “Instead of listing them, I’m going to step away from the computer and give my eyes a break. I encourage you to do the same!”
9 – Prioritize Self-Care
This is a time with added uncertainty and many of us feel nervous or might be experiencing increased anxiety. Angela identifies how important it is to care for yourself.
“For me, this time has been challenging given some of the fears that accompany COVID-19. However, I have found strategies to calm my nerves so I can focus on work and school. One thing that has really helped me is communication with others, whether that be with co-workers, supervisors, friends or family. This gives me a sense of normalcy and reminds me that I have a great support system. I have found that staying positive is key to my productivity.”
Check out resources for coping with stress from campus health.
About Student Engagement & Career Development
Student Engagement & Career Development supports students as they engage in experiences that expand their capacity make an impact on authentic challenges facing businesses and communities and to lead, to develop in-demand employable skills within and beyond the classroom and to design and implement a career plan aligned with personal strengths and values, for a lifetime of opportunity and well-being.
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