At the beginning of the pandemic, we all thought that working from home would only last a few months and things would be back to normal by the summer. But, as we get closer and closer to fall with no end in sight, working from home long-term is starting to look like the reality.

Many companies including Google and Facebook have announced that remote work will continue until 2021. Some companies like Twitter have even told employees that they can work from home forever.

Fortunately, many industries such as PR lend themselves to remote work. Working online instead of in-person can actually make it easier to connect with clients all across the world and can greatly expand the reach of your company. The key is staying connected and motivated. PR  is a very collaborative industry, but that can’t happen if you’re feeling disconnected or isolated from your coworkers or your clients. It can be especially difficult at a small company like NSC where we’re used to working together so closely.

Now, with remote work not ending anytime soon, it’s time to get settled in. The short-term solutions you devised in March aren’t going to hold up if you’re working from home indefinitely. Based on our own experiences working from home, we’ve compiled some tips on how to improve your work from home setup, get into a better mindset, and stay connected to your company. 

Setting the tone with your physical space 

The first and most important thing about working from home is where you are. It’s essential that you have a good physical space to work in and good devices to work with. Your ten-year-old laptop may have sustained you for a few months, but if you’ll be working from home until 2021 or longer, it’s time for an upgrade. Getting a new laptop, an external monitor, or a better keyboard will make your work a lot easier.

It can be hard to maintain a work-life balance when it’s all happening in the same place, but it helps to physically separate the two. Even if you don’t have a home office, designating a spot in your house where you always work can help you transition in and out of work mode. And, if there are multiple people working in your house, having your own space away from others can help you block out distractions and stay focused. 

Focusing on your mental health in addition to your work

Your mindset is just as important as your physical setup when it comes to working from home. If you’re feeling stressed or burnt out– which is completely normal and understandable at this point– you should address those feelings. You won’t be able to do your best work if you’re feeling out of it. 

Even though working from home is nothing like being in an office, you should try to keep your same routines. It can be tempting to sleep in when you no longer have an hour-long commute, but that will probably just leave you feeling more tired. Instead, try going for a walk or doing another activity during that time. In addition, try to eat meals and exercise at the same time every day. Your day is probably a lot less structured than it used to be, but if you’re able to keep some routine, your work day will feel more normal. 

It’s also important to set time boundaries in addition to physical boundaries. Once your work day is over, turn everything off. We know PR is 24/7, and sometimes something will come up that needs urgent attention. But if you think it can wait until tomorrow, be sure to shut down just as you would in the office. As long as you’ve prioritized your most important tasks and finished your time-sensitive items, you should be good to go. If you wouldn’t be in the office until 10 pm, you probably shouldn’t be working at home until that late either.

Always keep in mind that you can and should take breaks during the day, and not just for lunch. Take time and sit outside for a while, take a break from your screen time, or do something else fun to break up the monotony of sitting at your desk. If necessary, you can set a reminder on your phone to take a break and avoid getting burnt out. 

Staying connected to your company

If you haven’t been into the office in months, you may be feeling out of touch with your company. But, staying connected is even more important as you work from home for longer. When there’s no end in sight to working from home, engaging with your coworkers outside of business matters can prevent you from feeling lonely or isolated.

Many companies pride themselves on company culture, and you don’t have to lose that even if you’re working remotely. Continuing to have socials over Zoom, keeping fun Slack channels going, or chatting funny things to coworkers are all good ways that you can stay connected and feel like you are part of a team. At NSC, we moved our monthly social to a bi-weekly virtual cocktail hour. While we miss hanging out in person, coming together over Zoom helps us stay in touch and keeps our culture strong. 

This is especially important in the PR industry, where connection and collaboration are essential. PR work can easily be done remotely, but that doesn’t mean it’s done well. If you’re feeling out of touch with your coworkers, it’s going to make it a lot harder to work together effectively. Staying connected will not only help you feel better personally, but it will allow you to put on a more united front for clients and put out higher quality work. 

Working from home this long was not what any of us expected back in March 2020. But, now that this is our reality, there are things we can do to ease the physical and emotional burden. Improving your work setup will make your life a lot easier, while adopting a better mindset and staying connected will improve your mental health. Whether you are headed back into the office soon, staying away until next year, or working from home forever, making positive changes now will pay off in the long run.