The workplace today has changed for the time being due to the recent challenges we are faced with and, for some of us, working from home is unchartered territory. Not only are we dealing with communicating with our customers and colleagues differently, but for some of us, we also have a spouse /partner /children sharing space and either working or struggling with the end of the current school year and trying to find balance.
We are not alone in what is going on today, but there are ways to make working from home a little easier, so the transition is not as difficult, and a regular routine can be built. So although things aren’t “normal,” some sense of normalcy can be established in a “work from home” routine.
Set working hours. One of the hardest aspects of working remotely is concentrating on the task at hand. It’s easy to become distracted by what’s going on around your house— kids home, pets needing attention, the mound of laundry that needs to be washed, dried and folded, etc. It can also mean you find yourself working sporadically throughout the days, evenings and weekends which can negatively impact the work-life balance you are striving for. Set work hours just like you would when going into the office and clearly communicate to your family what your expectations are while you are working from your home office.
Get Dressed. It may seem like a simple tip, but it is crucial. It is tempting to stay in your pajamas all day, but this can cause you to be much slower to start your day and be less productive. No need to dress up formally as you would when going into the office, but the simple act of getting up and being on your normal routine of getting ready serves as a signal that it’s time to wake up and get things done. It helps to make you feel confident and who knows when an unexpected video meeting may happen. Be ready and be presentable.
Get Up and Give Yourself a Break. When working from home, it is so easy to lose track of time and before you know it…4 hours have passed and you’re still sitting in your chair. Make time to get up and get moving. Sitting for long periods of time is not good for your health. Talking on the phone is a perfect time to get out of that chair. Pace or walk from room-to-room while you talk. It is also important to take a break and eat lunch. Your body is a machine that needs fuel to keep running and depriving it of that fuel can affect your mood, make you feel irritable or feel low on energy. The key is to stay happy, stay healthy and get your work done.
Push Mute. When working at home, a very important courtesy to those on the other end of the phone line is to push mute when on a call unless you are speaking. This is especially essential when on a conference call with many people. With kid’s home and pets in the house, there will indeed be unavoidable disruptions at times in the background. Don’t be hard on your family, your pet or yourself…we are all in this together. There will be times that we can’t control the noise, but the mute button can be a lifesaver.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate! If you don’t usually work from home, chances are you may be missing the social aspects you typically get at the office. Remember to take the time to connect with your boss and coworkers on a daily basis. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the same people you would typically turn to for help, and it is important to pick up the phone or do video chat. This will help to cut down on miscommunication and break up some of the social isolation that can come with working from home.
Stay On Task. Create a list each day of what you want to get done and check it off as you go to help stay on schedule. “Eat the Frog” first thing in the morning to avoid procrastination later. Completing a long and/or challenging task first thing removes it off your plate and helps create a sense of accomplishment for the day. This allows you to also finish the day with what you like most and end it on a high note. This will help to keep you on task and finish with your list quicker. Why not end your day on a good note by saving the best tasks for last.
Be Positive and Not Hard On Yourself. Successful remote employees have a reputation for being very disciplined. It takes focus to manage a full-time job from home. If you should find yourself a little preoccupied with family at times during your day, cut yourself some slack then get back to work. It’s also important to stay positive. When you work remotely, be sure when speaking on the phone or writing emails, to keep the tone of both in check. Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one.
And, let’s be realistic, it may be a challenge to complete everything on a “to-do” list in one day. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Adjust expectations and restart the next day. It’s amazing once you get into a routine how simple working from home can be.