Many companies are implementing mandatory or voluntary working from home procedures, some never having done this before, during the current coronavirus crisis.
These work from home situations might make you and your staff feel less productive and less visible from home.
In light of that, here’s some tips to help you make the most of your time at home and still be as productive as you are in the office.
Get into a normal routine. Don’t be tempted to roll out of bed and go straight to the computer in your pajamas.
Many professionals have done it before and it’s a terrible way to start the day. You’ll feel dreadful all day and if there’s an unexpected video call you don’t want to be rushing around trying to get dressed, especially if other colleagues are in the office. Try to do a normal routine of getting up, having breakfast, brushing your teeth, getting dressed and only sitting at the computer when you start work like you would when you go into the office.
Create some sort of home office/workspace. A huge challenge when you first start working remotely is keeping your work and home life separate, especially if your kids may be off school making this even more of a challenge.
If you like to keep things separate and have a spare room you can use this may be a good way to do it, but if you’re in a small apartment and don’t have space there are other ways as well. A simple workspace in the corner that you don’t touch during non-working hours or a new account on the computer that you can sign out of when you’ve finished work will help you keep that important balance. Don’t sit on an uncomfortable stool all day at your kitchen table, try to get an office chair that will support you for eight hours and not leave you in a lot of pain.
Stick to your normal working hours. It’s important to stick to your regular work schedule for both you and your employer, this means not taking a three hour nap in the afternoon but also not staying at your desk two more hours to finish this final piece of work.
If you feel yourself getting stuck towards the end of the day then it’s perfectly fine to decide that you should leave work and come back to it tomorrow with a fresh mindset as you would in the office. While you may have a manager either in the office or working from their own home to assist, you are your own boss now as there is no-one except yourself to hold you accountable.
Press the reset button. This is really an extension of point two but have a think about what you normally do on your commute, if you listen to a podcast or a book or watch a quick episode of something on your phone you can do that before you start working at home too.
It’s important to be able to switch your mode between work and home and you may not realize how valuable your commute is for naturally doing that until you don’t have it, for people who commute alone that alone time may still be necessary.
Distractions are okay in moderation. We all get distracted at work whether it’s at home or at an office.
It’s part of what makes us human, but the largest distraction right now is the news so it’s important you turn the TV off while you work and check for updates during your break. Did you know it can take up to 20 minutes to recover from just a single distraction and get back to your normal pace?
Communication is key. You need to keep yourself visible to your other colleagues, before you’d have said hello to your team and your manager and now you’ll need to do the same virtually.
Hopefully your office has some communication tools set up so you can check in, run meetings and work can be assigned. If your office is entirely new to remote working this will likely change a lot before they have the tools and systems that work for them. Remember to use Microsoft Teams, Skype, or Slack for in-person discussions, and to cut down on misunderstandings because non-video chatting isn’t ideal for the best communications.
Be social. A good part of your life is spent working with colleagues and some of them inevitably become close enough to call friends, during this time you shouldn’t be going out unnecessarily so it’s important to recharge with your colleagues like you would in the office.
Think about the discussions you have over coffee or lunch and who you talk to, how can you keep those bonds? Who in your office is a pet lover? Whose birthday is this month? As part of the tools above it’s important to suggest a cooling down/water-cooler type room where not just work is discussed.