How to Work Remotely During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Today, more than 1 in 5 people in the U.S. are under shelter-in-place orders from their states due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Many businesses like restaurants, bars, barbershops, and small shops have shuttered, unsure of when they can open again. Office buildings have closed too, sending people to work from home.

As technology has advanced over the past decade, more and more people have shifted to working from home. But this recent move to remote work in the past few weeks is unprecedented.

If this is your first time working from home, welcome. It can be a challenge to adapt to the virtual grind, but with our tips below, you’ll be an old pro in no time.

We also have some guidance for folks who may be struggling with maintaining their sobriety right now. It’s a stressful time, with routines upended and in-person 12-step meetings cancelled, some people need help now more than ever. You’ll find some resources for virtual meetings below.

Over Communicate with Your Coworkers

During the virtual meetings ask lot of questions and get exact instructions from your CoworkersFor those of us used to in-person meetings and communication, going fully remote is a big change of pace. Virtual meetings mean remembering to mute your microphone when you’re not talking so your coworkers can’t hear you munching on your snack and getting dressed semi-professionally for those video conferences.

But it also means that the nature of communication has shifted drastically. The key now, is to communicate more than you’re used to. Give very specific instructions when assigning new tasks—oversimplify. When getting a new assignment, ask a lot of questions so you know exactly what’s expected of you.

Check in with your manager or higher-up when you “get in” and when you’re done for the day—if they require it. And be there for your coworkers. This is a stressful time for everyone. The people around you need just as much comfort as you do right now.

Avoid Slacking Off

I know. All of the good snacks are just a few feet away, you have a series you haven’t finished binging, and if you’re the Monica of your friend group, there’s always something to clean at home. Working remotely can be filled with distractions…including the want to just sit around and veg.

Usually, I’d recommend getting out of the house and going to work at your local library or favorite café, but that’s not an option right now.

Instead, to avoid slacking off at home, establish and stick to a new routine. Take regular breaks (see below) to avoid burnout, but otherwise, find a place in your home where you can work relatively distraction free. A well-lit corner of the dining room table, or, if you’re lucky enough, an uncluttered home office.

Get Creative with Your Breaks

While it can be easy to take a break at work, it may not be so obvious while working remote. Without coworkers stopping by for a chat or the need to visit the water cooler, you could find yourself forgoing breaks while working remote. It’s important not to omit these practices, as they provide the brain with a necessary breather.

Under normal circumstances, breaking for a bit could mean trekking about the office, heading out for a coffee, or doing a quick errand in the neighborhood. However, because of social distancing guidelines, your options may be limited. Luckily, there are several opportunities to disconnect from your work for a bit.

Managing Recovery and Sobriety

The tone of this article has been playful, but for many, this is a serious time full of serious struggles. Not least of which are those trying to manage their sobriety and recovery with fewer resources than usual.

Many in-person meetings have been cancelled to help stop the spread of COVID-19, but that’s leaving a lot of people without their safety net. Luckily, there are some virtual resources that have replaced the in-person meetings.

You may be isolated inside, but that doesn’t mean you’re cut off from the rest of the world. Check in on your loved ones—everyone’s having a tough time. Hopefully they’ll return the favor.

If you find that these virtual resources aren’t enough, in-person addiction treatment is still open and available. At American Addiction Centers, we’re doing everything we can to keep our patients and our staff safe during this time, and keep our doors open to help those who truly need it. Give a call if you believe you are close to relapsing and need help.

Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.