Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, more and more companies are encouraging or requiring employees to work remotely from home, including Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter. While occasionally disruptive, remote work serves as a great opportunity for employees and employers alike. To make the transition easy, here are some of the best practices to consider.

Set rules with household members:

set household rules for remote work from home Giphy

It's best to start by talking to your household about what you expect when on the clock at home. If other adults will be around, make it clear to them that you need to work and ask that they treat you as if you were in the office and not actually there.

Make a designated workspace

make a designated workspace for your remote work Giphy

If you don't already have a designated home office, you need to create a makeshift one to start working remotely. The best place is somewhere away from most of your house traffic where you will have minimal interruptions and can easily set up your work materials to stay undisturbed. A computer room is ideal, but other ideas are basement rooms (depending on if you have a finished basement), laundry rooms, or your kid's playroom(they'll survive having to hand over their play area for a while). If nowhere else, your bedroom works in a pinch.

When to work:

when to work from home Giphy

Try to work the same hours you would in your office. It's easy to get carried away and work longer than your normal hours when doing so from home. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you when it's time to call it a day. However, with remote work comes flexibility. If you are a night owl, you may benefit from starting your work hours later in the day. Inversely, if you're a morning person, you might find you are more productive and can get work out of the way first thing in the morning. Additionally, it may help to write down your schedule or things you need to accomplish that day at the beginning of your shift.

What to wear:

what to wear when working remotely from home Giphy

It's easy to get out of routine when you don't have to look presentable in front of coworkers and customers. When I first started remote work, I often sat down at my computer without having brushed my teeth or gotten dressed. As nice as this may seem, don't be beguiled by this newfound freedom.

The Wall Street Journal writes of the importance of dressing the same for home-based work as you would in the office, with the belief that "dress for success" also applies to working at home. Honestly, I don't see the true need for this unless you will be video conferencing with others. I do, however, believe that following a basic routine of getting out of your pajamas and practicing basic self-care and grooming leads to a better attitude each day.

Take breaks

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Even if you're self-employed, take advantage of your breaks. I repeat: Take advantage of your breaks! When I first started blogging and freelance writing, I was so excited to be back in the workforce after spending two years solely as a stay-at-home mom that I often worked long hours and skipped taking breaks altogether. At first, it was easy to do–but I don't recommend it. It's easy to get carried away with work and skip breaks when they aren't being enforced by bosses or supervisors. However, walking away and taking that break can make all the difference in your work! Stand Up is a great free app to take advantage of; it sends you reminders to walk away from your desk.

Use a VPN

A virtual private network (VPN) is a necessity when working remotely for a company that requires access to their business network. Your employer may give you a VPN to use for work, but if not, I recommend ExpressVPN, NordVPN, or IPVanish.

Video chat with coworkers

video chat with coworkers when working from home Giphy

Remote work gets lonely, even for the most solitary person. Even if you don't get along with your co-workers, I advise video chatting with them instead of emailing in certain instances. For one, emails leave room for miscommunication. And, as much as you might think to yourself "okay Karen" about that annoying co-worker in the office, you may be surprised at how much you miss socializing with the Karens of the world– if only for a brief moment.

In Summary

Not everyone responds to remote work the same way. Some people relish in this type of work. People who exhibit high levels of self-discipline tend to fare better, while others loathe the idea of having to work at home. The best advice for anyone transitioning from the office to home is to know what is expected of you and find what works best for you. Everyone works differently, and what works for one remote worker may not bode well for another.

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What do you do when financial hardship hits and you can't make your monthly mortgage payments? This is a question on many homeowner's minds as nearly 17.8 million Americans are reportedly unemployed during the coronavirus pandemic.

When homeowners face financial hardship, such as the loss of a job, they often look to obtain a forbearance agreement from their lender. A forbearance happens when your lender grants you a temporary pause or reduction in monthly payments on your mortgage. Forbearance is not the same as payment forgiveness, in that you still have to pay the entire amount back by an agreed-upon time.

Mortgage lending institutions differ on their mortgage relief policies and qualifications; however, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act were signed into law in late March of this year to protect government-backed mortgages.

Federally backed mortgages include:

  • Fannie Mae
  • Freddie Mac
  • The Federal Housing Administration (FHA)
  • The US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA)
  • The US Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Under the CARES Act, homeowners with a federally backed loan who either directly or indirectly suffer financial hardship due to coronavirus automatically qualify for mortgage forbearance.

Even if your mortgage is not secured by one of these agencies, you still can call and see if you qualify, as many lenders will still offer the option in order to avoid foreclosures.

Under the CARES act, homeowners can claim mortgage forbearance due to financial hardship from COVID-19 for up to 12 months without requiring any documentation or verification. During the forbearance period, mortgage lenders cannot charge late fees or penalties.

Additionally, as long as your mortgage is current at the time you claim forbearance, the lender is required to keep reporting your mortgage as paid current throughout the entire period.

At the end of the forbearance, the CARES act protects consumers from having to make a lump sum payment. Instead, you will be given a repayment plan from your provider. Since repayment options vary, it's important you ask your provider about all of your repayment options.

Possible Repayment Options:

You may be eligible for a loan modification at the end of your forbearance. With modification, the mortgage terms are changed in order to add payments that were missed during the forbearance onto the end of the loan, extending the term.

Another option that may work for some is a reduced payment option. This allows you to keep paying monthly payments at a reduced amount. The amount missed is usually added back into the monthly payments at the end of the forbearance.

For example:

Regular payment: $1000 per month

Reduced payment: $500 per month

Payment after forbearance period: $1500 (until caught up)

Balloon payments, or lump sum payments at the end of the forbearance, are prohibited under the CARES Act. However, mortgage lenders may require homeowners who are not protected under the CARES Act to make a balloon payment at the end, so again it is best to check first with your provider.

Mortgage forbearance should only be considered in true financial hardship. In other words, just because of the pandemic, you should not take a forbearance on your mortgage if you can still afford your payments. Likewise, if you are able to start making payments before the forbearance period is up, it's best to do so as soon as possible.

The Next Steps:

Before you get in touch with your mortgage servicer, save time by gathering as much documentation about the mortgage as you can. Also, be ready to list your income and monthly expenses. Due to an influx in calls, financial institutions are experiencing extremely long wait times right now, and having your information at the ready will help.

Have questions ready to ask. Here are some questions you should be asking:

  • What fees are associated with the forbearance?
  • What are all the repayment options available to you at the end of the forbearance?
  • Will you be charged interest during the forbearance period?

If your forbearance is approved, make sure to keep all documentation pertaining to it. Make sure to cancel any automatic payments to the mortgage during the forbearance period, and keep tabs on your credit report to make sure your lender doesn't report the loan as unpaid.


For more information on forbearance, contact your lender and discuss your options. If you need more assistance with understanding your options, you can contact a local agent for the housing counseling agency, or call their hotline at 1-800-569-4287.