Advise Me

Working from Home: Tips for Staying Productive

Working from home may seem like a dream for some, but for others it is uncharted territory that can be challenging to navigate.

If the COVID-19 pandemic has you working from home, Mark McGuirl, sourcing strategist with the Banner Health Human Resources department, shares his top recommendations to help you make the most out of your remote work situation – whether you’re a pro or it’s new to you.

Set Ground Rules

McGuirl has been a remote employee for more than two years, so the COVID-19 precautions mean he’s now working from home with his spouse and two young children – all making the work-from-home environment a little different. But in times like these, McGuirl said setting ground rules can help provide structure.

“We look at each other’s calendars and see how we can accommodate each other’s important meetings or phone calls,” McGuirl said about himself and his wife who is also working from home right now.  “During that time, one of us will engage the kids in a way that keeps them entertained for the duration of the meeting.”

Those ground rules can help manage the kids and ensure everyone has the needed time to focus on work.

Maintain a Regular Schedule

To help balance personal time, McGuirl also recommends maintaining regular work hours as much as possible. And he advises taking regular breaks throughout the day. These tactics are aimed at preventing burn out.

“I make it mandatory that I go to the mailbox during my day with the dog,” McGuirl said. “I also like to get take-out food during lunch just to clear my head.”

Since social distancing has become part of every-day life, McGuirl recommends finding time to work out during your day. “I work out for 45 minutes in my garage in the mornings,” he said. “I have found that if I wasn’t in a great mood in the morning, the workout actually resets my mind and gives me a more positive mental attitude. It really is about getting up out of the chair to reduce burnout, even if you feel like you don’t have time to.”

Create a Comfortable Workspace

While some people may have a designated home office that works for telecommuting, for others McGuirl recommends finding a space that’s comfortable and can be set up to help you avoid distraction.

McGuirl recommends trying things like white noise, setting up your workspace near windows for natural light and utilizing things like essential oil diffusers or a salt lamp to create a calming atmosphere. A comfortable, ergonomic chair is also critical.

“It’s up to each individual as to what makes them comfortable and keeps them focused and on task,” he said.

Stay Connected

Maintaining human connection is also important when the workplace is remote. Having regularly scheduled calls with team members or utilizing online group chats are great ways to stay connected. Technology makes it very easy to interact and helps keep everyone easily accessible.“You are pretty much on your own when working remote, so if you don’t manage your time well, it can get very challenging,” he said. “But, once you get the hang of it, it truly is a privilege. Embrace it and have fun with it!”

For more information on COVID-19, visit

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