I began working from home before working from home was in vogue. 18 years ago, my daughter was 5 and I was a single mom, the first virtual employee for a 300+ staffed company located in New Jersey. 9-11 was the catalyst to request the move to Florida, to live near my largest client that I flew to visit one week each month. In the early days I worked 60+ hours a week but took one day a week to have lunch with my child at her elementary school (thinking that was work – life balance). My half of the kitchen table was my office (the other half was for dinner). Since my early work at home days, I have moved and upgraded my office environment, updated the equipment and eliminated owning a fax machine. My self taught "Time Management" skills have been revamped more times than I can count over the years.

Due to Covid-19 the “home office” has taken on new meaning, with millions of employees working remotely, as the Disney Aladdin song is titled - “A Whole New World”. According to PwC*, 55% of the work at home employees expect this will be a long term or permanent situation. How can these situations be a success for the employee and the employer?

According to Glassdoor that surveyed 1,000 American Employees in March 2020 - during our early days of the pandemic, 32% said TV was the top distraction and 27% said childcare was a huge distraction. Now, as we approach a year under these stressful conditions, those percentages have increased two-fold.

How can we each be successful in this new norm?

Create a self-care plan – mental and physical health are of most importance*

  • Exercise.
  • Go outside and breath fresh air.
  • Plan healthy meals and snacks – schedule workday eating times for breakfast, lunch, and snacks.
  • Shut off and shut down from work.
  • Socialize with family and friends.
  • SLEEP!  - keep a regular bedtime/do not short-change your sleep hours.

 Work at home employee responsibilities:

  • Get dressed!  Wearing sweatpants and slippers creates a different state of mind than putting on office casual attire.
  • Set office hours (with an alarm if necessary)
  • We can all easily begin work at 8am and before we know it – 7pm has arrived!
  • Prioritize your day.
  • Do not overbook your time.
    • Keep an impeccable Calendar – include family appointments**
    • Use your calendar and schedule your time for tasks not just meetings**
  • Let go of what you cannot control – No employee can control the response time of a vendor/client/co-worker.
  • Fight the urge to multitask** 
    • We all know that person who appears to do two things at one but in review, were those items done to their best?

I once prepared a client presentation; my daughter was home sick and told me we were out of milk. I thought I wrote it on a piece of paper, without thinking I typed it into a cell on the excel doc “buy milk”. When reviewing the project with the client someone suddenly said, “Did you remember to buy milk?” … we all laughed – thank goodness!

  • Keep your workspace organized and segregated from “family” – ex: work docs should not be mixed in a batch with family papers, mail received etc.
  • Be conscious of how you spend your time.
    • Pomodoro Technique – states 25-minute work blocks with a five-minute break.
    • The Ultradian Cycle suggests we try testing our focus by setting a timer and see how long we can each focus on task before feeling “burn out”.  Most people can handle peak productivity for about 90 minutes, after which they will need a 20-minute break for a less intense task. *****

During the workday:

  • Stand up and stretch every hour.
  • Roll your head, roll your shoulders back and forth.
  • Blink many times to reset/refresh the neurons in your brain.***
  • Stay hydrated – water must be included as a beverage (tea, water with fruit, seltzer etc.).


  • Create a dedicated “office” space – your own place to stay focused.
  • Use a comfortable chair and proper posture – perhaps invest in a lumbar chair support or switching to sitting on a yoga ball throughout the day.
  • Get your family involved – explain to all household members why and what it means to work from home.
  • Create boundaries of what it means to have an “Office” at home.
  • Create a schedule for your children who attend school virtually.
  • Schedule time to have breakfast and/or snack with them during each day… School is their “workday.”


  • Schedule time to take the dog outside (which provides yourself a mental and physical break) 2-3 times during your 8-hour period.
  • Take advantage of these moments of down time during the busy workday; take deep breaths, walk briskly to circulate your blood to revitalize your muscles and shut work off in your head to declutter your brain.

Do not:

  • Do Not put the TV on for background ambiance.
  • Do not eat lunch sitting at your desk!
  • Do not do laundry or other household chores during business hours.

In 2001, I was a member of an educational support group for the women working from home. We met for lunch once a month a local restaurant. Each member worked for a different company. We discovered through the luncheons we were experiencing common problems, each month a different woman was the guest speaker on a topic/situation many of us faced... This group was amazing and the skills I learned “back in the day” have become the foundation for working at home success.

We are starting a “Corcentric Virtual Lunch Bunch”. This group does not promote or sell business services. The focus revolves around work at home topics/challenges and how to overcome them.

If you would like information, please contact me (twankoff@corc
entric.com) – all are welcome to attend and/or be a guest speaker on a topic related to working remotely.


*CNBC.com 3/31/2020 on-line - transcript of interview with Julie Morgenstern

**Published on-line by Moneycrashers.com, written for Fast Money Magazine

***Research completed by Vanderbilt University Psychologists published that when we blink it is a shift in our attention and breaks the activity of the neurons in the visual cortex of our brain. 

**** According to Rover.com - 54% said they feel less anxious because they have their pet with them. Two-thirds said they feel happier working from home because they have the company of their pet. Most pet parents (70%) said working from home helps them get more exercise by walking or playing with their pet.


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Tami Wankoff - Procurement Consultant

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