September 08, 2020 5 min read

Whether working from home or getting ready for distance learning (also known as remote learning), one thing is for sure: this fall, the pumpkin spice latte flavour isn’t enough to make everything seem normal. The disruption of the last six months has left many across the board still adjusting and finding their rhythm to move forward. Now with back to school looming in the distance, uncertainty breathes again on top of all the other changes we’ve endured. However, new experiences also bring slivers of opportunity if you know where to look for them. How does remote work and remote learning differ from one another? They don’t! This means applying some key strategies will switch that unease to confidence! Let’s breakdown the metaphorical wall of remote learning and work from home and get the ball rolling once again your way.

Distance Learning Is Not Online Learning

Young male smiling and typing on laptop.Let’s clear up the air first: there is a difference between distance learning to online learning. Gasp, we know! Isn’t online learning exactly what most students are doing – accessing the web for their studies? Here’s the thing; it’s a completely different experience. 

Online learning refers to courses that were meant to be accessed online so that includes modules ready and waiting to go at the convenience of the student. No one meets at an appointed time for a webinar. It’s completely at the discretion of the learner.

Whereas distance-learning or remote learning  is more interactive. You might have a live zoom seminar with your professor and peers (no sleeping in, sorry!) or be required to hand in assignments via video. It’s supposed to mimic the in-person campus experience as much possible.

So next time someone asks you how your online learning is going, show-off and tell them your remote learning is going well, thank you very much. Remember too, your goal has remained the same; it’s the delivery method that’s changing.

Setting Up Your Remote Home Office

When work from home was first introduced as a social distance measure, setting up your “home office” so to speak was step number one. It sounds fancy but having a designated space for your schoolwork or work work is key. Yes, you are now part of the home office phenomenon. It’s no longer just for aspiring writers, entrepreneurs, or celebrities. (We do have a soft spot for Mindy Kaling’s home office FYI.) Plus, home office décor is booming and there are tools and furniture for even the tightest of spaces. Or ask around for any gently used items from close friends and family.

Female student sitting at desk typing on laptop.For learners returning to school in September, it’s vital that this space is chosen with care and fashioned to work for you rather than against you. Scrambling to get your laptop set up in bed might not be the best approach for the new term. Choosing a space can become tricky if space is an issue. If you’re living at home with family, or in a cramped apartment, how do you find a space for your distance learning experience?

This will be your classroom, your locker, and your homework area. It’s important that no matter how big or small your home office is, that it’s separate from your other space. The art of compartmentalizing is everything here: your kitchen is where you attempt to cook, and your home office is where you’ll learn. Your brain will subconsciously pick up the difference and this will go a long way to help you stay focused and to keep your worlds from clashing together.

Here are a few things to consider for brightening and optimizing up your home office:

  • Natural Sunlight: duh, we know, but it does help with mood.
  • Plants: they’re not just great to look at! They help with the air quality like snake plants, peace lilies…. the list goes on!
  • Pet Visits: get those cuddles in when you need a minute to breathe.
  • Privacy & Quiet: by finding an isolated area you reduce distractions and keep your focus on the work.
  • Chair Setup: are your feet touching the ground at a ninety-degree level? Getting this right can avoid back pains and you’re too young for that.

    Need more tips on your home office especially for video interactions? We got you covered with our blog here: Working from Home: Improve Your Video Backgrounds & Lighting for Your Video Meetings.

    Location, location, location

    Of course, there’s flexibility under remote circumstances. That’s one of the silver linings – nothing is set in stone, including your home office! Going away for the weekend with a great view? Visiting the parents sometime in the week? By remaining a bit open-minded and finding a new view, you’ll avoid the home office blues.

    Smiling woman sitting on balcony with laptop.For the extra adventurous, becoming comfortable with remote work might open up the literal door to a new home. Many are realizing that their home location is no longer a factor in correlation to their actual position – so moving somewhere new now is possible. The same goes for many students who may have otherwise had to move to campus.

    The stress of moving out has been dodged! Being able to remote work has given many the freedom to explore accommodations that are comfortable and make sense in their lifestyle. It also cuts down on the commute time!

    Schedules & Organization

    With the home office done and taken care of, it’s time for some time management. Being at home for school or work might feel like the lines are blurring which is why schedules are everything. Getting your timetable is great but figuring out those times when you won’t be in class is where the opportunity lies. For professionals, reviewing your week gives you a snapshot of your availability when not in virtual meetings. Even on days where there are gaps, waking up at your regular time sets the tone for the day. Sure, your morning routine may look a lot of different but having one will get you in a positive mindset. That way your remote work will begin to look and feel like any other day in the office.

    Hands holding a pen and writing in notebook.Get creative in how you manage your time. Sometimes that might mean an old school calendar or agenda because the act of writing things out helps us remember. Or, if you’re a tech wiz, setting up reminders in your phone will keep you ready for those deadlines.

    The same is true for when you need to clock out for the day. Giving yourself a hard cut-off time will be the invisible boundary you need to disconnect from work life to home life.

    For the days where you might be required to make an in-office or on-campus visit, it’s good to prep mentally and physically. Get a checklist of things you need for your outing (masks, hand sanitizer, your phone) so it becomes part of your leaving home routine. Knowing when these days are coming up and having this routine in place will make you feel organized and ready for it.

    Back to School Survival Guide - Download Now!

    Remote Learning/ Remote Work: It’s for Now, Not Forever

    What we have to keep at top of mind is that this situation is not forever. Both remote learning and remote work situations might feel uncomfortable, but resilience is key. These few adjustments will go a long way in making working from home or returning to school a bit easier. It doesn’t change the fact that the quality of work or learning that you do is in your control. That’s the real truth of the situation.


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