The outbreak of the Coronavirus has more people working from home. In fact, most of our office is now set up to work from home. If you’re new to working remotely, these tips can help you stay productive and maintain balance in your life.
If you’re new to the work-from-home lifestyle, you’ll likely need to adjust. You will need to change some of your habits and routines to make working from home a success. Everyone who works remotely has to figure out when to work, where to work, and how to create boundaries between work and personal life. Working remotely, especially when working from home most of the time, means figuring out these issues and others.
Here are 10 tips for leading a better and more productive working from home life:
- Maintain regular hours – Set a schedule, and stick to it… as much as you can. Having a schedule for when to work and when to call it a day will help you maintain work-life balance. That said, one of the benefits of remote work is flexibility. So if your role will allow it, sometimes you need to extend your day or start early to accommodate someone else’s time zone. Make sure you work that into your schedule and take some time for yourself later when things are slower.
- Create a morning/end of day routine – Deciding on the time that you will sit down to begin your day is one thing. Creating a routine that gets you into that chair is something else completely. Identify some triggers that signify the start to your day. It might be your cup of coffee. It might be getting dressed. It might be logging in. Whatever your routine, get one and follow it. Just as you should start your day with a routine, create a routine that signals the end of the workday as well. It might be logging out of an application. It could be an evening walk. Whatever you choose, do it routinely to mark the end of your workday.
- Set ground rules for others at home – Set ground rules with other people in your home. If you have children at home, they need clear rules about what they can and cannot do during your work day. Similarly if your spouse or partner is working from home the same idea, set some ground rules.
- Schedule and take breaks – Whatever the policies are at the office, follow them at home. So, know your company’s policy on break times and take them. If you’re self-employed, give yourself adequate time during the day to walk away from the computer screen and phone. Generally it’s a one hour lunch break and two 15-minute breaks during the day.
- Get some fresh air throughout the day – You don’t have to be locked in the house 24 hours a day. Get some fresh air. Get out in the morning before you start or in the evening when you are done. Eat your lunch on the deck. Take a 10 minute walk around the neighborhood during your break. There are options. Your body needs to move. And the fresh air and natural light will do you a world of good, but remember to maintain social distancing.
- Maintain a dedicated office space – In a perfect world, you can work from home in a dedicated home office. But this is not always possible. If necessary, dedicate some space or a desk for work use. Ideally, in a quiet less frequented part of the house if others are home at the same time. When you are there, people know you are working.
- Socialize with colleagues (virtually) – Working from home can become lonely. You can feel disconnected from the office and your colleagues. This is particularly problematic for extroverts. You need to find ways to socialize. Chat, text and email colleagues. Coordinate your breaks so you can catch up and truly feel connected and included.
- “Show up” to meetings and be heard – If meetings are part of your regular work life, make sure that you are actively engaged even if you are taking the meeting from home; a meeting after all are is not a spectator sport! Be sure to introduce yourself at the start so everyone knows you are present. Be sure to speak up during the meeting so everyone knows you’re on the call and contributing. Signal your presence by agreeing or reiterating points that are being made. Or make your own. And make sure to signal when you are dropping off. A simple, “Thanks, everyone. Bye!” at the close of a meeting will go a long way toward making your presence known.
- Over-communicate – When you work from home, over-communicating is critical. Make sure you tell everyone who needs to know about your schedule and availability. Don’t assume they know. When you finish a project or important task, say so. This doesn’t mean you need to write a ten page summary when you complete a task or need to write an essay to explain your every move, but it does mean that you must keep people, like your boss and colleagues informed and up to date. Don’t have them wondering if you are delivering. Make sure they know.
- Be positive; overly positive – Often, things get lost in translation; particularly when we rely on the written word and when people are not together. Often our writing does not convey the full story. Our tone of voice and other cues are missing. So people interpret the written word literally. When you work from home, you must be positive, to the point where it may feel like you’re being overly positive. Otherwise, you risk sounding upset, disinterested or unhappy. It’s unfortunate, but true. So embrace the exclamation point! Find your favorite emoji :D. You will need them. That said, if you are upset, or unhappy, reach out and let someone know. There is a solution.