working from home

ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - You've seen the memes. In fact, you probably scroll through them before you start your work day. Poodles in pajamas, cats wearing ties and celebrities making awkward faces – #WFH all trending in hopes of offering comic relief during the coronavirus crisis. But after the giggles fade, time to get to work, right? Turns out, it's not always that easy.

For many Georgians suddenly relegated to working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, adjusting to their new home office is well, an adjustment.

There's endless distractions – from Netflix and naps, to mindlessly staring inside your fridge. But, for millions of Americans, teleworking has been their new normal for years. "When you think about it, the world has become a more agile landscape with job opportunities shifting to more gig-based and contracted roles," said Tricia Sciortino, CEO of BELAY, which provides virtual assistant services. Between 2005 and 2017 remote work jumped 159%. According to FlexJobs, today nearly 5 million U.S. workers telecommute.

So, if you're new to teleworking, here's how to make it work for you: 

Stick with your routine

"It’s normal for people to perceive that working from home means rolling out of bed and opening your laptop," Sciortino said. BELAY employees have worked 100% remotely for a decade, but for those new to teleworking, Sciortino said it's important to keep your regular routine in place.

"Getting dressed, having breakfast and designating a specific place in your home for “work” also makes it easier to disconnect from your job when the day is done," she said. 

Take breaks

"Time management is instrumental in avoiding cabin fever and staying productive," Sciortino said. "Creating processes for yourself and your team aids in getting things done effectively and efficiently." Make sure to schedule lunch breaks and physical activity. Keep a daily task list and convert regularly scheduled meetings from in-person to virtual check-in apps like Zoom or SKYPE. Virtual interaction is also great way to reduce isolation, Sciortino said. "It’s okay to break up the monotony of your day-to-day role with conversation and candor amongst your team," she said. "Many of our internal teams have group chats and interact throughout the day, share funny stories, or ask work-related questions for the team to weigh-in."

Start that side hustle you've been dreaming about

It's easy for isolation and anxiety to creep in during times of crisis. One solution: channel that energy toward a positive distraction like starting that side hustle you've dreamt about, but could never find the time to pursue. Taking on a side job, while working a full-time job is always challenging, but CEO of Crowned For Success and Boss Ladies Mindset, Wendy Porter said, there's no time like now. "There has never been a better time to start a side hustle," she said. With unemployment claims at a record high – more than 3 million Americans applying in just one week – and the looming economic uncertainty, Porter said a side hustle can lead to extra income. "It will provide you with a safety net in case you are one of many Americans who have their work hours reduced or find themselves unemployed," Porter said. 

Start with a business plan

If you're not sure where to start, Porter suggests first researching fast-growing industries including healthcare, online fitness, digital courses, online coaching and mental health. "My answer to this would've been a little different just a couple of months ago before Covid-19. Post Covid-19 I think these industries would be lucrative for a side hustle," she said. Learn how to use social media to grow your business. Porter started her side hustle while still working in Corporate America, and was able to turn it into a full-time million dollar business in just four years. Today, Crowned for Success and Boss Ladies Mindset is the largest women's empowerment and coaching network for CEOs on social with more than 1 million followers. Porter said Instagram served as an invaluable platform in her success.

"It's free marketing and if you hire a business coach who's an expert in social media sales and marketing, it's completely realistic to build a six-figure or multiple six-figure side hustle into full time entrepreneurship," she said.

Be flexible and open

Every side hustle business owner should be prepared to pivot to a new business model to change with the times, Porter said. "For instance, If you're a brick-and-mortar, you may want to consider taking your business online," she said. "If you're in a business segment that's been decimated like travel, then you may want to consider a different industry all together, for the time being." 

Stay the course

For the first 3 to 6 months, focus your resources on getting clients. "Out of excitement, we invest our resources into all the pretty things that aren't going to make us money," Porter said. Expensive websites, branding, and business cards don't necessarily attract clients, instead, Porter suggests concentrating on your business strategy. "Then when you are turning a profit, you can focus on those things," she said. Lastly, be prepared for the challenges.

"Show up every single day with a smile, even on the days that you don't feel like it," said Porter. "You have to want it more than you want to binge on your favorite Netflix show and more than you want Starbucks on a Monday morning."

Copyright 2020 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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