Professionals, students offer tips on working from home

Written By Emma Christley

With the recent precautions aimed at “flattening the curve” surrounding the spread of COVID-19, many schools and non-essential businesses have temporarily closed their doors, causing students and workers to adopt an online, “work from home” format.

For many, this is the first time they are having to work from their homes digitally. For work that was once done collaboratively, with the feedback of peers is now completed in isolation at home. With this shift, comes the struggle to find a new normal in separating home lives from work lives, which can be stressful and overwhelming.

Students have been attempting online courses in addition to moving off-campus in the last few weeks. The additional workload assigned by professors and the emotional toll of the pandemic are a few concerns of the student body.

“When I’m at home, I’m in a mentality that I’m on break so it’s extremely hard to be able to sit down and stay focused to complete my assignments,” Megan Benfer, a sophomore creative writing major, said.

Rhianna Davis, a junior business management major, also cited an inability to concentrate, new responsibilities at home, having family members around as a distraction and a lack of proper workspace as struggles in her transition to online courses.

Another Point Park student, junior education major Maddie Corcoran, is struggling without the social element while completing her work.

“It’s difficult to collaborate with other students, and without any drive to do my work, it’s even more difficult when I don’t even get the social interaction I heavily rely on to help push myself,” Corcoran said in a Facebook post.

For some professionals, particularly those who work in digital or social media, working from home has been a practice long before the coronavirus hit. Local bloggers have taken to social media to share some of their tips for working from home, tried and true from their own experiences.

Tiffany Schmoyer, owner of Breakfast at Tiffany Marie’s, began her lifestyle, travel and style blog in 2016 when she needed a creative outlet outside of her schoolwork. Since then, she has been working as a content manager at Love Your Social Media since she graduated from Seton Hill University in December 2019.

In a blog post she wrote in March 2020, Schmoyer gives tips such as, “Wake up with a plan for your workday!” and “Schedule a time for you to stop working and eat lunch each day.” She acknowledges that working from home is hard, but it’s important to find what works for each individual.

“The best tip I can give is to build a schedule that works for you, but also holds you accountable,” Schmoyer said. “While getting dressed and looking presentable is great, don’t feel bad if you are in your sweats and getting things done. Get comfortable with the situation and then start building better habits.” 

Pamela Butler, the owner of Hello Portobellos!, is focused on holistic health, lifestyle and plant-based recipes on her blog. Following her diagnosis with a chronic autoimmune disease and in an effort to find her new normal, Butler became a certified wellness coach and began her blog to try to help others dealing with the same conditions she was in.

Outside of her blog, she is also a photographer at Top Hat, one of Pittsburgh’s boutique advertising agencies which is owned by her husband, Ben Butler.

As a result of the work she does with both her blog and Top Hat, her current working situation hasn’t changed drastically, but she knows that isn’t the case for millions of people who are suffering as a result of social distancing.

She emphasized the need for physicality in the workday, but also the necessity of breathing.

“It’s important that you add equal amounts of physical activity and rest to your schedule,” Butler said. “Movement helps you stay awake and gets those creative juices flowing while rest stops you from feeling stressed and low.”