Some of us have worked from home for years, but many more are now required to do so to ensure proper social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. Hopefully these following tips can assist in easing that transition and making us more effective and productive during that time.
Set up a proper workstation. Tempting though it may be, do not work on the couch. Do not work on the bed. Have all your necessary information and supplies n front of you. Additionally ensure this location is clean and organized. Many of us may work at desks in our offices that look like a bomb went off on it. Not here. Not now. The space you inhabit is reflected in your mental state and the work you put out. We have enough disruption and uncertainty… ensure your space is neat and clean.
Do not work in pajamas. Get up, get dressed, and get clean. You are what you present yourself as, even to yourself- so ensure this “you” is one who is pulled together and has a clean face. This is additionally helpful in that we should all be prepared, at any moment to receive a video call. No you don’t have to dress like you do for work, but you do need to look professional and pulled together.
Stay healthy and hydrated. Every habit you ever had at your office has just been upended, and we may not realize that it was habit more than conscious that that dictated when we ate lunch, the bottle of water we kept on our desk, when we took a 10 minute walk outside. Ensure you are eating and drinking water consciously and more regularly while we establish new patterns and habits.
Stay connected. Pick up the phone and talk to your coworkers, don’t just increase the number of emails you send. Making those video calls goes long way towards ensuring good connection with your team. As for customers and clients, there is a tenant I learned early on when I was just learning to be an outside sales rep: don’t show up empty handed. This meant don’t make a call without a purpose or without something to provide of value. Check ins are occasionally okay, but if you call frequently but without purpose, you’ll find those calls are getting answered less and less over time.
Stay on a schedule and make lists. With our normal habits upended it’s easy to get distracted from our main goals. Ensure you make a list of daily and weekly tasks to accomplish and keep this visible and in front of you as you work.
Set regluar times to check the news/social networks. Allow yourself brief check ins through the work day and then put them aside for the rest of the time so you can focus on your work.
Understand interruptions happen. Structure your day in small segments of concentrated work with more frequent interruptions than previously.
You’re at home but you’re not at home, if that makes sense. You know that thing we all used to do when writing a paper in college where you found yourself three hours in to an apartment cleaning session because you simply can’t write in a dirty apartment? Yeah… don’t do that when working from home. Sure you can toss the occasional load of laundry in the wash or run the dishwasher, but now isn’t really the time for more than that. Ensure, wherever your home office set up is, that it isn’t facing a messy room that draws you away from your work to address. When given the choice of looking at a blank wall and looking at a messy playroom… pick the wall.
Get creative/ adapt. We’re all having to adapt our current work techniques. What worked in the office may not work in a home office setting. Don’t get discouraged and keep trying new techniques. You may find a way that works better than how you were doing something previously.
Don’t micromanage… but don’t disengage. No one likes a manager breathing down their neck, but we don’t like flailing around not knowing what our priorities are either. Reminders, check ins, asking for updates… these are all fine. Minute by minute call reports? Don’t be that guy.
Don’t multitask work and private life on your computer. Look. We can all see your tabs open when you screen share. Most companies track the websites you go to and time spent on them. This isn’t Vegas. What happens in quarantine doesn’t stay in quarantine. Don’t be the cause of an embarrassing story once everyone is back in the office due to a poor decision made during this time.
And finally, have patience with each other, with your kids, with you bosses, and with yourself. Even for those of us who worked from home for years this is new territory and we’re all working our way through it together.