Today marks my first day working from home due to the novel COVID-19. So this has gotten me thinking, what can I do to make sure I am working from home effectively?
My whole team is actually working from home and so I have written this partly for my blog, and partly for my team at work who I know will appreciate some guidance on what is an unprecedented event.
The extent that I have ‘worked from home’ is when I am writing for WifeMumWorkPlay. But to me this is pleasure and I don’t tend to have a very strict routine or structure. I write what I am passionate about in the moment.
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Working for a company from home is uncharted territory for me and my team so I have set out to do some research to help us through the transition.
I have decided to share this here, as I know there are many people around the world who are trying to navigate through these uncharted waters.
Pros and Cons of Working From Home
Changes like these can have both positive and negative affect on your mental and emotional state.
While no travel time, alone time to think, less colleague interuptions and being in the comfort of your own home are all positives, some negatives are:
Loneliness, distractions, becoming complacent, and the dread of returning to the office later down the track.
While this all seems like a novel, albeit surreal, experience it is important to understand that to ensure that our business thrives during this work from home period it is important to ensure the work actually gets done.
The distractions at home; Netflix, food, chores and family members (and pets) just name a few can mean that workload gets put on the back burner and this is not something that business can’t afford to have at the moment.
To ensure my team enter into this fully equipped, I have come up with the following work from home guide.
Set up your at home work space properly
Location – Choose an area that is quiet and void of distraction
Set up a proper desk and chair – Clear the desk of items which are not relevant to your work or which may distract you. Try not to work from your bed or in front of the TV as this is bound to result in distraction
Have a morning routine
You may not be getting up at 6am to get ready and commute but still use this time to prepare for your day ‘at work’.
Exercise, meditate or at least get dressed into something other than your pajamas to signal that you are ready to work.
Make a coffee, take a seat at your desk (or dining table etc.), take a deep breath and jump right in.
Dress for success
You don’t need to get your heels on and suit up, but definitely get out of your PJ’s, brush your hair/teeth and put on deodorant. Choose clothes that are going to allow you to be in the mind-set of work. Trackies slippers aren’t the best option. Dress in something that you would potentially wear to the office with a ‘casual Friday’s’ vibe.
Have a daily routine
Create office hours to stop you from taking work into family time. You need to wind down after a day at work even if you are at home.
At work you have regular breaks, and most importantly a lunch break! Make sure you schedule in these breaks as normal to keep your routine going and stop you from fading in the afternoon and getting distracted by the search for food or otherwise.
Make sure you take your breaks fully. Time away from the screen is just as important as time in front of it and you need to step away and recharge, just like you would in the office. Take a walk, eat something healthy and come back to your desk ready to work.
Set an alarm for breaks to make sure you take them.
Get fresh air and exercise daily
A walk in the morning around the block, chatting on the phone in your backyard. Exercise on a daily basis is very important, especially if you are sitting in front of a screen all day with little break. This will help your sanity as well as your health
Get in touch with colleagues, stay connected
Whenever you feel yourself getting distracted or bored, call a colleague to check in with them. Have a 5 minute chat (just like you would in the office) and then return to work. As long as you limit your phone time this can be a really effective way to keep you engaged. Try to keep the conversation at least partially work related.
Don’t avoid, manage distractions
Working from home can come with many distractions, the key is managing them rather than avoiding them. It’s easy enough to say ‘stay off social media’ but we all know that this is difficult to do. Especially if you are picking up your phone to make calls constantly.
Family and Pets
If you are able to set up a space to work from where you can close the door this is ideal. Otherwise a conversation with family members about not interrupting you during work hours should be had.
All of a sudden doing the dishes is a super attractive way to spend the next 10 minutes. If this is something that is going to annoy you, make a point to complete the task on your own time. Either as part of your morning routine or in your lunch break. It will quickly not seem so important.
Ditch the TV on in the background and replace it with some music to work to. You can put on your favourite playlist or even stream a local radio station. It will replace the hustle and bustle of the office that you are used to working with
This is one of the biggest distractions that exists today. One key point is to remove all access to your social accounts from your work computer. Only have tabs open in your browser that are relevant to your work and if you really have trouble with self-control, you can set a do not disturb on your phone apps.
Use social media as a reward. If you have just written a huge email, had a phone call with a particularly difficult client or have just pumped out several hours of un-interrupted work, give yourself a 15 minute social media break. Just make sure that 15 minutes doesn’t turn into 30 minutes.
Use checklists and planners
As part of your morning routine, write a to do list and work through it during the day. this will stop you from sliding onto social media or having too many ‘mental breaks’ in between tasks as you can simply move down your list to the next item that needs to be completed.
Don’t become too complacent, this isn’t forever
Remember that just like the transition you are going through right now, you will have another transition when you do finally have to face going back to work. Treating this experience like it is temporary will help going back to work not seem like going back to work after a long overseas holiday, but feel more like you never left.
Overall working from home can be a nice break from the daily commute but it is important to manage your time and tasks effectively. Especially if the move to working from home is temporary like mine is at the moment and for an unknown amount of time.
Being realistic in your expectations of your-self as well as the future prospect of going back to your normal work lifestyle is super important to ensure both transitions work for you, and not against you.