I have been working remotely and out of my home for 4.5 years. I am a borderline introvert, but I do find that connection with people in person is of high value for me. So, learning to exist in this setting has been a challenge and an adventure of trial and error. Here are some tips and tricks that I have learned in the process, hopefully you find them helpful.
Some of us are fortunate to have a separate space to work, some are not, but making sure you have a dedicated work area is key!
- If you can do it behind closed doors that is ideal
- If not, do your best to simulate a dedicated work area, not in the middle of family areas or distractions
- Since you are in your home, being separate from all of the daily duties at home (dishes, projects, TV, etc.) will help your mental energy for work
- It helps with the discipline of creating boundaries between work and personal life, which can be tough when working from home
- Keep your work area neat and tidy
- I am first to admit that I am not perfect here, but it makes a difference
- Even if the other areas of your house are chaos, trust me that keeping this area neat will help!
- Having a comfortable chair and desk are critical since you are likely in them all day, no different than when in the office
- Have a separate monitor, keyboard, and mouse if you are using a laptop. This is a better situation ergonomically, which will affect your overall comfort, and therefore, productivity
Having a defined routine each day makes a huge difference with transitioning to work when at home
Work day startup and shutdown routines will help!
- One gets you ready for attacking the day
- The other helps you shed the work day before being with family or roommates. This may seem unnecessary, but it serves as that much needed transition time. Do it, trust me!
- Dress for work, I know it is tempting to stay in your pajamas all day. Dressing for work helps you mentally prepare for a shift in mindset
- You don’t have to put on a suit if you normally do, but make sure you are “getting ready” for work as you would typically. I have even heard of some people getting in their car, driving around the block, and returning to their driveway as if it was their office parking spot.
- Since you are likely stuck at home with family, having a defined schedule and process helps them know how to respect your work life
- Let the family know when you need to have your head down using a sign on the door, etc. When you have pushed for 90 minutes, get up, say hi to everyone, and then go back into the zone
- Water breaks are a great tool in getting up from your desk to stretch your legs, and staying hydrated is good for you
- I recommend a 16 oz cup, enough to keep you at your desk for a bit
- If you and your spouse are both at home and have kids, come up with a routine that will allow for both of you to be successful
- It may mean shifts that are outside of the norm but making sure you can meet your job requirements is important for job security in this season!
- Bonus – it is easy to squeeze in a short home workout before work, at lunch, or after work
- Check out YouTube for workouts. There are a ton of good free ones.
Do video calls and meetings any time you are connecting with someone on your team
- If you have Microsoft Teams, it is extremely easy to connect with your team via video
- Zoom.us is another good option if Teams is not setup for your team
- Setup your workspace for good lighting, camera position for correct framing, and audio needs
- If you are well lit, easy to see and hear, your team will appreciate it! Avoid looking like you are in the witness protection program.
- Try group video hangouts even when you are not in an actual meeting. Set up the video conference and then everyone goes about their business, pretending you are all in one location.
- You can hear the typing, office noise of others, etc. and it helps with the “in office” feel
- You can see the status of your team easily as you would if in office
- Part of your routine should be daily check-ins via your standard communication tools (Teams, email, etc.)
- Being intentional with regular communication will help you as well as your team and avoid always making it about work
- Scheduling these check-ins will help to avoid too much distraction throughout the day
- The key to making remote work as successful as possible is setting aside some time to think through what environment, routine, and connectedness will look for you and your team. It is worth the time to get set up well even if only for a short while. You may not get it exactly right at the outset. Allow for evolution of rhythms and processes to meet the needs of your team members as they strive to accomplish company objectives in a whole new environment. Who knows, when the COVID-19 circumstances pass there may be continued need or opportunity for remote work life and you will have created processes that will continue to foster productivity and balance beyond this crisis.