- TheRide introduces new, temporary service plan to start August 30
Virtual Townhall Meetings Scheduled
ANN ARBOR, MI – The Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority (TheRide) will introduce its next phase of temporary service restoration. The temporary service plan includes a reorganized and simplified network of routes focused on travel to essential destinations and increased frequency on busy corridors to reduce overcrowding.
“We are taking a cautious and measured approach to phase service back in, focusing on the safety of our riders and drivers, while still allowing for social distancing,” Bryan D. Smith, Deputy CEO of Operations at TheRide said. “The reorganized route structure is a temporary response to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and to maintain long-term financial sustainability.”
The temporary route structure minimizes route variations and most route interlining. This approach will make it easier to add overflow service as ridership increases. It also makes it possible to provide more frequent service to allow for social distancing, which is important because a full bus during the pandemic is only twenty passengers or one third of what it was pre-COVID.
Starting August 30, the temporary route network will operate most routes from 6:00 a.m. – 9:15 p.m. Monday – Friday and 7:00 a.m. – 8:15 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. High demand routes will operate every 15 minutes during peak travel times and most routes will operate every 30 minutes, seven days per week. The number of passengers will be limited to promote social distancing and additional buses will be used to back up routes to reduce overcrowding.
In addition, instead of providing a fixed-route along corridors with low ridership and low density, FlexRide (demand response) service will be offered. This includes late night and service on holidays when our fixed routes do not operate.
Beginning August 1, A-Ride service will be operated directly instead of using a subcontractor. While same-day service has been suspended, A-Ride will continue to operate the exact same service area that was provided pre-COVID. Service hours will also continue to match those of fixed routes. In addition, beginning on August 1, GoldRide cardholder access to A-Ride will be suspended. GoldRide cardholders will still to be able to ride fixed routes at no charge.
To learn more about the temporary service plan details, visit TheRide.org, call 734-794-1882 or attend a virtual townhall meeting. In addition to accepting comments during the virtual townhall meetings, the public may comment in the following manner:
Email: Planning@TheRide.org, use “Temporary August Service Plan” in the subject line
Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority
c/o Temporary August Service Plan
2700 S. Industrial Highway
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
The virtual townhall meetings will be conducted through Zoom at the following times:
- Tuesday, August 4 at 12:00 PM
- Thursday, August 6 at 6:00PM
- Tuesday, August 11 at 12:00PM
- Thursday, August 13 at 6:00PM
- Tuesday, August 18 at 12:00PM
- Wednesday, August 19 at 6:00PM
- Thursday, August 20 at 12:00PM
Participants will be able to join the town hall by phone and computer. To find out how to participate in a virtual townhall visit TheRide.org or call 734-996-0400.
TheRide encourages the public to ride for essential travel only. To reduce the spread of COVID-19, TheRide has established the following preventive measures and restrictions to keep both riders and drivers safe:
- Customers are required to wear a face covering, per state law
- The driver is to be approached for emergencies only
- Buses cleaned with CDC recommended protocols
- Transit centers are open for customer transactions only
- Social distancing signs are posted at transit centers and in buses
- Fewer passengers allowed on each bus
- Plastic barriers added to separate drivers and riders
- Sanitation supplies provided to employees
- Masks, gloves and face shields are provided for drivers use
- Lost and Found collection has been temporarily suspended
The latest information on TheRide’s routes, schedules and detours are available at TheRide.org or by calling (734) 996-0400.
- TheRide to Resume Collecting Fares August 2
Tokens, passes, A-Ride scrip may be purchased starting July 20
ANN ARBOR, MI – The Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority (TheRide) announced today (7/15/2020) that beginning August 2, the agency will resume collecting fares from passengers for both fixed-route and A-Ride paratransit service. TheRide had previously suspended fare collection on these services in an effort to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
“As more businesses begin to reopen along with schools and universities resuming, we continue to encourage using public transit for essential trips such as work, grocery shopping or to get to the pharmacy. We are committed to keeping both our riders and employees healthy and safe. We’ve added many preventive measures to do our part in stopping the spread of COVID-19,” Bryan Smith, Deputy CEO of Operations for TheRide said.
With fare collection resuming, there are changes to paying your fare:
Paying Your Fare on Fixed-Route Buses:
- TheRide has installed barriers separating the Motor Coach Operator (MCO) from passengers and the farebox
- Passengers are to resume boarding through the front door of the bus and insert their fare into the farebox.
- All fare media including cash, passes, go!passes, MCards, etc. will be accepted
- Use of day passes rather than change cards is recommended to reduce interactions with the farebox
- Any 30-day passes activated between February 18 – March 17 can be replaced at no charge at one of our sales locations:
- 2700 S. Industrial Highway, Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
- Blake Transit Center, Monday – Friday, 7:00am – 7:00pm, Saturday, 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
- An original 30-day pass must be returned at the above sales locations to receive a replacement starting July 20
- Payment by Scrip is recommended
- Exact cash fare will be accepted, drivers do not give change
Starting on July 20, customers will be able to purchase tokens, passes and A-Ride Scrip at the Blake Transit Center and TheRide’s Main Office at 2700 S. Industrial Highway. Customers who wish to obtain or renew their Fare Deal Identification Card may do so at either location. To apply or renew an A-Ride identification card, please contact 734-973-6500 or email ARide@TheRide.org. Tokens and 30-day passes are also available for purchase at select Bank of Ann Arbor locations.
Beginning August 1, passes and A-Ride Scrip will be available for purchase online at TheRide.org.
The hours that fare media may be purchased are:
Blake Transit Center
Monday – Friday 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Main Office – 2700 S. Industrial Highway
Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Blake Transit Center and the Main Office will use the following precautions:
- Entrance to either location is limited to purchasing fare media and to apply or renew a reduced fare identification card
- The number of people allowed to enter will be limited and monitored
- Face coverings are required when entering the building, per state law
- Entrance and exit doors will be clearly marked
- Customers must immediately exit the building once their transaction is completed
- Signs, including floor markings have been installed to promote social distancing
- Credit cards, Apple Pay and Google Pay will be accepted using contactless processing machines
- Cleaning protocols are in place to sanitize high use surfaces between customer transactions
TheRide remains dedicated to protecting the health and safety of its riders and employees and is taking a cautious and measured approach to phase in service focused on physical distancing, key corridors and essential trips. TheRide requests that community members and area businesses work together to help “flatten the rush-hour curve” to reduce the spread of the virus. Together, we can reduce the spread of COVID-19 as businesses and schools reopen.
TheRide is doing what it can to help stop the spread of COVID-19, including:
- Passengers are required to wear a mask when riding and when waiting at a bus stop, per state law
- Enhanced cleaning of high-touch areas on buses, shelters and at transit facilities using protocols recommended by the CDC
- Signs designating physical distancing on each bus, on benches, and at shelters and transit centers
- Plexiglass barrier to separate customers from the driver
- Drivers are required to wear masks and are provided face shields and gloves
- Providing hand sanitation supplies at transit centers and on buses for riders
For more information regarding TheRide’s preventive measures for COVID-19, visit TheRide.org/coronavirus. The latest information on TheRide’s routes, schedules and detours is available by calling Route Information at (734) 996-0400 and on TheRide.org. Businesses seeking more assistance in helping their employees commute to work can email TheRide at commute@TheRide.org.
- TheRide Asks for Help in Flattening the Rush-Hour Curve
June 8, 2020
TheRide is increasing bus service as the community re-opens. However, maintaining social distancing during crowded rush-hours will be challenging. Before the pandemic, transportation infrastructure was often stretched to capacity during peak commute times. Trying to accommodate a return to a pre-pandemic rush-hour while also maintaining social distancing could push buses, roads, and parking far beyond capacity - leading to more gridlock and crowds. This could be especially challenging as students return in the fall.
Just as “flattening the curve” helped prevent medical services from being overwhelmed, TheRide is asking for everyone’s help to flatten the rush-hour curve. By spreading out rush-hour travel, the bus service and transportation network in general will be less strained and less crowded. This also helps ensure safer travel for transit riders who must use the bus for essential trips. To help us flatten the rush-hour curve TheRide requests the community, businesses, and educational institutions consider the following steps when re-opening:
- Encourage employees and students to continue to telecommute or work from home as much as possible.
- When possible, stagger work and class schedules so people are not arriving and leaving at the same time.
- Schedule start times outside typical rush-hours, especially outside 6:00 a.m. -9:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. -6:00 p.m.
- Consider rotating staff/students on alternate days.
- Encourage walking and biking. Carpools and vanpools can also help. Businesses can contact the getDowntown program about resources for alternative commuting options.
- Supply employees and students with PPE for the commute, such as masks and hand sanitizer.
“Safety has always been our number one priority and we are committed to doing our part in this pandemic,” said Matt Carpenter, CEO at TheRide. “As more businesses and schools reopen, we know more people will need to use our service. We are asking for the community’s support in preventing gridlock and crowding during the commute. We have a few months to get ready for fall and the return of students, so let’s coordinate as best we can.”
Together, we can reduce the spread of COVID-19 as businesses and schools reopen. TheRide has instituted many preventive measures to keep employees and riders safe, including:
- Enhanced cleaning of high-touch areas on buses, shelters and at transit facilities using protocols recommended by the CDC
- Signs designating physical distancing on each bus, on benches, and at shelters and transit centers
- Riders if able, are instructed to enter and exit using the rear door
- Pandemic plexiglass barrier to separate customers from the driver
- Drivers are required to wear masks and are provided face shields and gloves
- Providing hand sanitation supplies at transit centers and on buses for riders
- The Blake and Ypsilanti Transit Centers and TheRide’s front desk at 2700 S. Industrial are temporarily closed
- Suspended collection of fares until safety measures are in place
“We’ve worked closely with TheRide to ensure the public’s safety when using public transportation. We are in support of the guidelines they have laid out should you need to use their service. We urge the public and local businesses to be aware of the risks of crowded spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic and encourage those that must travel to wear face coverings, and to follow guidelines for reopening at https://www.washtenaw.org/3122/Guidance-for-Businesses,” Jimena Loveluck, MSW, Health Officer from the Washtenaw County Health Department said.
getDowntown is available to help your business with understanding what options are available for your employees. We are trying to keep up with the flood of information from businesses that are re-opening, and keeping our updates on getdowntown.org at COVID-19 Updates. We even have an easily-read flyer that you can use as a cheat sheet for current bus services! Please contact us at email@example.com if you need further help so that we can assist you at our first opportunity.
- TheRide Takes Further Measures to Promote Social Distancing
April 7, 2020 | Samantha Potter | Community Relations
The Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority (TheRide) has announced additional social distancing measures in an effort to help stop the spread of COVID-19. To adhere to Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-21 which temporarily suspends activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life, TheRide reminds the community to ride the bus for essential trips only.
TheRide’s social distancing measures include:
- Signs that encourage riders to keep six feet between each other have been placed on seats in each bus, placed on benches, buildings and shelters at the Blake and Ypsilanti Transit Centers
- Each bus has a yellow line on the floor that marks a 6-foot distance between the driver and riders
- Each bus is now considered to be full when 15 riders are on board. Once there are 15 riders on board, the driver will contact a dispatcher to send another bus to serve remaining passengers along the route.
- Riders, if able, are to board from the rear door, unless they need to use the ramp
- The Blake Transit Center, Ypsilanti Transit Center and TheRide’s front desk at 2700 S. Industrial are temporarily closed
- No fares are being collected
In addition to the above steps to promote social distancing, TheRide is operating on a reduced schedule. For the most up to date route information, visit TheRide.org or call 734-996-0400.
“We remain dedicated to getting essential employees to their jobs and to help our community make essential trips to the grocery store or pharmacy,” Bryan Smith, Deputy CEO of Operations at TheRide said. “We ask that those that do not need to travel for essential reasons to stay home. In addition, we ask those that must travel do so while respecting social distancing guidelines.”
In addition to social distancing measures, TheRide is also taking extra precautions for their staff and riders:
- All vehicles and facilities are being regularly cleaned and high-touch areas disinfected with protocols as recommended by the CDC
- All staff continue to receive a supply of sanitization supplies and are encouraged to follow the CDC’s hygiene guidelines
- TheRide has instituted social distancing among employee work environments, with many staff working remotely, all business travel canceled, and in-person meetings discouraged
TheRide remains dedicated to the health and safety of its riders and employees and reminds riders and employees of healthy habits from the CDC:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Stay home when you are sick, if possible. This helps prevent spreading your illness to others
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
- Wash your hands often to help keep germs away. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces
- Wear cloth face coverings in public settings
The latest information on TheRide’s routes, schedules and detours is available in the Ride Guide, at (734) 996-0400 and on TheRide.org.
- Resources for Employees, Businesses & Ways to Help
Below is an extensive list of services provided to those in need during this pandemic. To add additional services, please email us and we'll be sure to add the information. Thank you to the Washtenaw County Mutual Aid Resources and others for this information.
Destination Ann Arbor has created a COVID-19 Business Toolkit full of up to date information for local businesses and employees. Click here for more info.
The Ann Arbor/Ypsi Regional Chamber has a great website chock full of resources and information for small businesses, employees and consumers. Click here for more info.
Talk to your bank. Do they have options available that may help with unexpected income disruption such as short-term loans, loan skip-a-payment programs, or something else?
Talk with your landlord. Could you pay part of your rent now and make-up the remainder at a later date?
Unemployment pay offered to Michigan workers off the job due to coronavirus, see article
Food Assistance for Kids
Ann Arbor Public Schools Find times and locations of food distribution here.
Dexter Schools Offering free breakfast and lunch to all kids under 18.
Washtenaw ISD COVID-19 resources Tons of food resources, plus free educational subscriptions and other resources.
Ypsilanti Community Schools Find times and locations of food distribution here.
Conor O'Neills If you're in need of a boxed lunch for a child, please feel free to stop by the pub between 11am-1pm and one of our staff will gladly assist you. Call (734) 665-2968 with questions.
TeaHaus Will be handing out free boxed lunches to any school aged child from 11am-1pm at our sister location EatMoreTea, just around the corner, at 211 E. Ann St.
Food Assistance for Families
Community Action Network Washtenaw A list of where and how to access CAN food services, as well which sites are closed currently.
Food Finder app to help you find places serving free food near you (just enter your zip code)
Food Gatherers If you need food, we have a network of food pantries and meal programs that are ready to help, including the Community Kitchen in Ann Arbor. Also, we are working closely with local school districts to address the needs of students who no longer have access to school meals and to develop alternative delivery models to ensure children are being fed. Give.
Muslim Community Association Free grocery and medicine delivery - for high risk populations (over 50 or with any chronic illness)
Peace Neighborhood Center will be distributing lunches at various locations across Ann Arbor.
SOS Community Services Through the resource center, we help stretch tight budgets so community members can stay housed by offering a choice food pantry and walk-in services. Families can get assistance with utilities, transportation, personal care items, and housing resources. The SOS Resource Center also is a MiBridges Navigation site so people can get connected to the benefits offered by the Department of Health and Human Services. Give.
The Pandemic Pantry - Make Do With What's On Hand Grocery stores are going to be nuts for a while, with some basic essentials not available sometimes.Rather than panic, let's see what we can make in our pantries and fridges already. Heck, maybe you've never cooked anything before. Now's a good time to learn!”
United Way of Washtenaw County If you need help Call 2-1-1, our 24/7 hotline that can connect you to services in our community. Donations will be used to help non-profits meet the needs of the vulnerable populations including those needing food, children, families facing loss of income due to business closures, health issues and those experiencing housing crisis. Give.
Pet Food Assistance
Mutual aid for service industry workers - closed Facebook group
Filing for unemployment (currently expanded to cover those who cannot work right now)
Michigan.gov resources for employers and workers
Utilities and Wifi
Comcast offering free internet to low-income homes, increased speeds, open wifi hot spots to all.
Other free/low-cost internet options (an extensive list)
AT&T won’t terminate service of any wireless, home phone or broadband residential or small business customer due to an inability to pay their bill as a result of the coronavirus pandemic – and we’re waiving late payment fees for those customers.
DTE suspending shutoffs for low income eligible customers
getDowntown Information regarding transportation, community resources, tips for working from home
TheRide - up to date bus information for the County
Health & Healthcare
Aim and Intent Debora Collins (734-276-4556) I am a Psychotherapist who specializes in anxiety and crisis management. I have a very flexible schedule and can accommodate unusual time requests, if necessary (to the medical community, perhaps.) I am also able to provide a deep sliding scale for those most vulnerable financially (perhaps veterans, the elderly, restaurant or gig-economy workers), and can provide services over a secure video chat platform or by phone.
Hope Clinic Distributing hot meals in the evenings, providing emergency groceries every day, and have produce/pantry appointments. They also offer free dental and medical services. People who are looking to serve can volunteer at https://thehopeclinic.org/serve-with-hope
Crisis Text Line 74141 Free, 24-hour mental-health support.
Community Mental Health of Washtenaw County crisis line Call to talk through a crisis, get general information about resources, or to schedule an appointment.
Ozone House (Ann Arbor/Ypsi) Crisis Line (for anyone, anywhere) and other emergency services
Therapy United online therapy services for individuals, couples, and families. Specialties are depression, anxiety, couples, grief, work/career issues, stress management, addiction & recovery & conflict resolution. Call 734-345-2965: sliding scale fee available based on income reduced rate temporarily for all during the COVID-19 crisis
Help for Home Bound Seniors
Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels Meals for home bound Seniors. Get involved/volunteer, donate.
Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels Meals for home bound Seniors. Get involved/volunteer, donate.
Huron Valley COVID 19 Mutual Aid form Put together by local organizers and activists. Use this form to request or offer aid of all kinds!
WORKING FROM HOME 101
- How to Create a Successful Work At Home Space
March 2020 | Cathy Colson | Pure Visibility
Hello fellow telecommuters! Whether you’re newly-minted or an old pro at this, there are definitely more of us today than a few weeks ago.
If you’re facing this for the first time, you may feel a bit disconnected or distracted, and if you’re used to WFH (working from home/work from home) from time to time, you may wonder if you can make it for the long haul. It will take some adjustment, but the good news is there are technical support systems available for remote collaboration that simply weren’t around even 10 years ago. We have the resources to make this work! In this post we are sharing our best tips and strategies to help you and your team make the adjustment to WFH and keep business running smoothly.
9 Working from Home Tips
- Get up at the same time everyday.
- Get ready for the day as normal.
- Set regular hours (and stick to them).
- Create a buffer between “work” and “home.”
- Dedicate a work zone in your home.
- Limit distractions.
- Take frequent breaks.
- Talk to people!
- Don’t take work “home” with you.
- 7 Effective Ways to Work From Home During the Coronavirus Outbreak
March, 2020 | LEXIE SACHS | GOOD HOUSEKEEPING INSTITUTE
As more and more companies implement work-from-home policies due to the spread of COVID-19, employees are now tasked with trying to be just as productive without their normal resources and routines. While working from home sounds like a luxury in theory, it's certainly no vacation and being productive is easier said than done.
Every job is different and the amount you're able to achieve will vary between career types, employers, and internal policies, but there are some key strategies to working from home when it comes to getting your tasks done efficiently (not to mention, staying sane and healthy while doing so!). Here are the best tips to working from home according to people who have successfully worked remotely for years and from our own Good Housekeeping editors and product experts who are working from home amid the coronavirus outbreak.
1. Stick with your routine
Just because you're not commuting and going into an office doesn't mean you should skip your weekday morning preparations. Wake up at your normal time, shower, and get dressed in real clothes (not pajamas!). It may sound trivial, but this helps you mentally prepare for the day ahead and get into the "I'm going to work" mindset.
It's also helpful to keep a set schedule. If you typical work nine-to-five hours, keep doing it at home. It's easy to lose track of time and if you can't stick to a typical work-life balance, you may find yourself getting easily burnt out.
2. Create a work space
Although it's tempting to stay in bed or head to your sofa, those who successfully work from home agree that you're best off setting up a station. If you don't have a desk, use your dining room table. Besides making you feel like you're at an "office," this helps you maintian good posture, avoid distractions, and leave your work behind at the end of the day.
3. ...but don't just sit there
Sitting all day isn't healthy even if you're at the office, but working from home means you skip your commute and have fewer reasons to get up from your chair throughout the day. You can invest in a standing desk if you prefer to work on your feet, but otherwise make sure to stand up regularly to stretch or move around.
If you've gained an extra hour or two from not commuting, it's a good opportunity to exercise, either by working out at home or going for a walk outside. A lunchtime walk can also help you feel like you're not stuck inside all day.
4. Get some fresh air
Since experts advise to limit contact with people who may be sick and many companies are urging employees to stay home, you're likely going to spend a lot of time indoors. Open your windows to let in as much natural daylight and fresh air as possible, and take short walks if you live in an unpopulated area — and be sure to wash your hands as soon as you return home.
5. Stay connected with your colleagues
If you work on a team, make sure to check in regularly just like you would in the office. Create to-do lists to keep yourself organized and focused, and share the status of your lists with your supervisor so they know you're on top of your work. Besides email and messaging programs like Slack, it's a good idea to set up regular check-ins via phone or video conferencing like Skype, FaceTime, or Zoom.
6. Fight the urge to multitask
This may seem like a convenient time to catch up on chores around the house, but it's easier than you'd expect to get distracted. Carolyn Forté, the Director of the Good Housekeeping Institute's Cleaning Lab, says now's not the time to straighten up or start a load of laundry. "There’s nothing wrong with taking a little break, but don’t let chores distract you from being productive. You wouldn’t be doing them if you were at work," Forté advises.
The same goes for other at-home distractions. If you meal prep or pack snacks ahead of time for the office, do the same at home so you don't get preoccupied in the kitchen. Chances are you don't watch TV at work either, so try not to leave it on, even if it's just background noise.
7. If you have kids, prepare for disruptions
It's difficult enough to get work done if you have children at home, but even harder with younger kids like babies and toddlers. Still, it's not impossible if you have plan ahead and have some flexibility. Here are tips from real parents who are mastering the work-from-home challenge:
- Get help, if you can. It might not be the best choice for your family with the social distancing advisory, but if you have someone that can help out (e.g. a family member that can stay isolated with you), you'll be able to get the most amount of work done. If you co-parent, take turns between watching the kids and working. When you're working, hide in a separate room so your kids don't know you're there.
- Mix up your hours. If your job allows for it – especially with companies being more lenient around COVID-19 – try to squeeze in work when your baby or toddler is asleep, like early morning, nap times, and at night. It's not ideal, but you'll be more productive if you have quiet time to yourself.
- Explain the situation. It's a good idea to talk to your kids about coronavirus, especially older ones who can better understand the impact it'll have on your day-to-day life.
- Try new activities. Fun toys and games that kids haven't played with before will keep them entertained longer. Time-consuming projects, like crafts, stickers, puzzles, and legos, are sure to buy you some time.
- 20 Tips for Working From Home
March, 2020 | Jill Duffy | PCMag.com
The global spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, is keeping people at home. Major conferences, including Mobile World Congress and Google I/O have been canceled to decrease the risk of infection. Some employers are encouraging or requiring people to work from home for an indeterminate amount of time. If you're new to the work-from-home lifestyle, whether due to coronavirus or because you've managed to find a remote-based job, you'll need to change some of your habits and routines to make working from home a success.
I've worked 100 percent remotely for more than five years, and I have some friends and colleagues who've done it, too. We all face unique challenges, not only because we have different personalities, but also due to our various lifestyles and the type of work we do. Still, many of the core issues we face as remote employees are the same.
Everyone who works remotely has to figure out when to work, where to work, and how to create boundaries between work and personal life. What about office equipment, career development, training opportunities, and building relationships with colleagues? Working remotely, especially when working from home most of the time, means figuring out these issues and others. Here are 20 tips for leading a better and more productive remote-working life, based on my experience and what I've learned from others.
1. Maintain Regular Hours
Set a schedule, and stick to it...most of the time. Having clear guidelines for when to work and when to call it a day helps many remote workers maintain work-life balance. That said, one of the benefits of remote work is flexibility, and sometimes you need to extend your day or start early to accommodate someone else's time zone. When you do, be sure to wrap up earlier than usual or sleep in a bit the next morning to make up for it.
Automatic time-tracking apps, such as RescueTime, let you check in on whether you're sticking to your schedule. They can also help you figure out what times of day you're most productive versus when you slack off. You can use that information to your advantage by reserving your hours of high focus for your most important tasks.
2. Create a Morning Routine
Deciding you'll sit down at your desk and start work at a certain time is one thing. Creating a routine that guides you into the chair is another. What in your morning routine indicates you're about to start work? It might be making a cup of coffee. It might be returning home after a jog. It might be getting dressed (wearing pajama pants to work is a perk for some, but a bad strategy for others). A routine can be more powerful than a clock at helping you get started each day.
I say "morning," but not everyone who works from home follows a nine-to-five schedule. Yours might be a "getting started" routine at another time of day.
3. Set Ground Rules With the People in Your Space
Set ground rules with other people in your home or who share your space for when you work. If you have children who come home from school while you're still working, they need clear rules about what they can and cannot do during that time. Additionally, just because you're home and can let service people into the house or take care of pets doesn't mean other family members should assume you will always do it. If that's how you choose to divide up the domestic labor, that's fine, but if you simply take it all on by default because you're home, you may feel taken advantage of, and your productivity may suffer.
4. Schedule Breaks
Know your company's policy on break times and take them. If you're self-employed, give yourself adequate time during the day to walk away from the computer screen and phone. A lunch hour and two 15-minute breaks seems to be the standard for full-time US employees.
5. Take Breaks in Their Entirety
Don't short-change yourself during breaks, especially your lunch hour. You can use an app, such as TimeOut for Mac and Smart Break for Windows, to lock yourself out of your computer for 60 minutes. Or you can just launch a simple clock or timer on the screen when you take a break. If you return to your desk after only 40 minutes, walk away for another 20.
6. Leave Home
You don't have to eat out every day, but try to leave your home or work space regularly. The same advice applies to people who work in traditional office settings, too. Leave the building at least once a day. Your body needs to move. Plus, the fresh air and natural light will do you good.
You don't have to go to crowded public spaces to get away from your solo workspace. Take a walk. Weed the garden. You get the picture.
7. Don't Hesitate to Ask for What You Need
If you're employed by a company or organization that supports your work-from-home setup, request the equipment you need as soon as you start working from home, or within a day or two when you realize you need something new. It's extremely important to set precedents early that you will ask for what you need to get your job done comfortably, including the right monitor, keyboard, mouse, chair, printer, software, and so forth. Organizations that are accustomed to remote employees often have a budget for home office equipment. Ask what it is and how often it's renewed. It also doesn't hurt to ask whether there's a loan agreement or who will pay for return shipping or disposal of outdated equipment.
If you're working from home unexpectedly due to coronavirus, ask for what you need within reason. You could be working from home for weeks on end and you should be comfortable, but ordering a new office chair and desk might be asking too much. Consider a mouse and keyboard, plus a back-supporting cushion instead.
8. Keep a Dedicated Office Space
In an ideal world, remote employees would have not only a dedicated office, but also two computers, one for work and one for personal use. It's more secure for the employer, and it lets you do all your NSFW activities in private. But not everyone has a separate office in their home, and keeping two machines isn't always realistic. Instead, dedicate a desk and some peripherals only for work use. For example, when your laptop is hooked up to the monitor and external keyboard, it's work time. When it's on your lap, that's personal time. You may want to go as far as partitioning your hard drive and creating a separate user account for work.
9. Maintain a Separate Phone Number
Set up a phone number that you only use for calls with colleagues and clients. It doesn't have to be a landline, second mobile phone, or even a SIM card. It can be a free VoIP service, such as Google Voice or a Skype number. Similar to some of the other tips, having a separate phone number helps you manage your work-life balance.
10. Use a VPN
Use a VPN whenever you're connected to a network that you don't control. That includes Wi-Fi at co-working spaces, cafes, libraries, and airports. Some organizations have their own VPNs that off-site employees need to access certain servers or websites that store information meant only for internal use. In those cases, you'll also need to use a VPN at home. In any case, it's a good idea to get into the habit of leaving your VPN connected as often as possible because it's always safer to have it on than not.
11. Socialize With Colleagues
Loneliness, disconnect, and isolation are common problems in remote work life, especially for extroverts. Companies with a remote work culture usually offer ways to socialize. For example, they might have chat channels where remote employees can talk about common interests, meetups for people in the same region, and in-person retreats. It's important to figure out how much interaction you need to feel connected and included. Even if you're highly introverted and don't like socializing, give a few interactive experiences a try so that you're familiar with them if you ever decide you want them. If you're not at a company with a strong remote culture, you may need to be more proactive about nurturing relationships.
12. "Show Up" to Meetings and Be Heard
Certainly, you'll take part in video conferences and conference calls, but it's a good idea to attend optional meetings sometimes, too. Be sure to speak up during the meeting so everyone knows you're on the call. A simple, "Thanks, everyone. Bye!" at the close of a meeting will go a long way toward making your presence known.
13. Get Face Time
If your employer is lax about getting you in a room with other employees, ask to have an annual or semi-annual trip in your contract. It could be for annual planning, training, or team building. Or, tack it onto some other business event, such as a yearly fiscal meeting, nearby conference, or office holiday party. Don't wait around for someone to invite you to the office or an event. Be proactive.
For those unexpectedly working from home who are also trying to reduce face-to-face contact, set up a video call with your colleagues or manager once a week to check in.
14. Take Sick Days
When you're not well, take the sick time you need. If sick days are part of your compensation package, take the time off that you need. Not taking it is like throwing away money. If you're a freelancer who doesn't have paid sick days, it can be very easy to fall into the opposite time-is-money trap and try to power through illnesses. Keep in mind that sometimes it's best to rest and get better so that you can be your most productive self in the long term.
15. Look for Training Opportunities
When you're not in an office with your fellow employees, you might miss out on training and skills development courses that are taught in person. Your company might even forget to add you to its online training courses. It can be tempting to regard this a dodged bullet, but you might be missing out on an opportunity to learn something useful. Speak up and make sure you're included.
In addition to top-down training, you can request online or in-person courses, training, and coaching if you need it. For people who work remotely 100% of the time, look for learning opportunities that are taught at the company's headquarters or your closest office. That way, you get training and face time with colleagues.
Working remotely requires you to overcommunicate. Tell everyone who needs to know about your schedule and availability often. When you finish a project or important task, say so. Overcommunicating doesn't necessarily mean you have to write a five-paragraph essay to explain your every move, but it does mean repeating yourself. Joke about how you must have mentioned your upcoming vacation six times already, then mention it again.
17. Be Positive
I like succinct and clear messages, but I know that the less face time I have with people, the less they know how to interpret my tone in writing. When you work remotely full-time, you must be positive, to the point where it may feel like you're being overly positive. Otherwise, you risk sounding like a jerk. It's unfortunate, but true. So embrace the exclamation point! Find your favorite emoji :D. You're going to need them.
18. Take Advantage of Your Perks
Every week, I bake a loaf of bread. Why? Because I work from home and I can. Plus, I enjoy it. When I worked in an office full-time, I struggled to find the time to pop something into the oven that often. Working remotely comes with unique perks. Take advantage of them. You deserve it.
19. Don't Be Too Hard on Yourself
The most successful remote employees have a reputation for being extremely disciplined. After all, it takes serious focus to do any full-time office job from an unconventional space. That said, everyone lets their attention drift sometimes. If you find yourself working one minute and booking flights for your upcoming vacation the next, don't reprimand yourself too harshly. Instead, ask yourself whether people in an office setting do the same thing. If the answer is yes, cut yourself some slack, then get back to work.
20. End Your Day With a Routine
Just as you should start your day with a routine, create a habit that signals the close of the workday. It might be a sign off on a business messaging app, an evening dog walk, or a 6 p.m. yoga class. Something as simple as shutting down your computer and turning on a favorite podcast will do. Whatever you choose, do it consistently to mark the end of working hours.
Make It Personal
Above all else, figure out what works best for you. Sometimes the answer is apparent, but other times you might need some inspiration from other people who are in the same boat. A supportive community of remote employees does exist, whether you find them in your organization's Slack channel or online through blogs or Twitter.
- Best Telework Tips from Around the Country
The Coalition for Smarter Transportation (CoaST) has posted its own resource page on the best telework resources from around the country, from programs that have provided commuter assistance for many years. These tend to be from communities with robust telework communities, such as Seattle and Washington, DC. You can find links for materials from these programs at http://www.smartertransportation.org/resources/telework-resources-page/.