Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Working From Home

Things being what they are in today's challenging and uncertain world, many of us are working from home.  For some of us, this is a new experience that can be tough to figure out.  Fortunately, tech give us the opportunity to work from home and keep business moving.

I've personally had the good fortune to work primarily from home for the past several years, so I thought it might be helpful to share some tips that have worked for me to make working from home very successful.

Have A Dedicated Workspace In Your Home

Some of us are fortunate to have a guest room or other spare room to turn into a home office and effective workspace. Others may be limited to a corner of a kitchen, living room, or bedroom.  Do what you can, but do have a space dedicated as your work area.

Set Ground Rules In Your Home

If you share your home with others - roommates, significant others, children, other family members - set some ground rules to be followed while you're working from home.  The fact that you are home does not necessarily mean you are available to them.  You can't run to the grocery store, provide transportation, or run personal errands at the drop of a hat.  And they need to know that.

This also means setting boundaries on work.  It's easy for work to bleed over into your personal life when working from home.  So one of those ground rules should be an agreement on when you'll set work aside and be available for those with whom you share your home.

Make Sure You Have Bandwidth

Do you have broadband internet access?  If not, get it immediately.  Working from home using your phone as a wifi hotspot for connectivity is not going to cut it.  And be sure you set hours for others in the house to be online for entertainment - nothing will cause more frustration than having your web conference audio drop out because someone in the family consuming bandwidth watching Hulu.

Get Out Of Your Pajamas

That's right.  Get out of bed and change out of your pajamas.  It helps get your mind in gear for work.  I'm not suggesting a suit or formal business attire.  I am suggesting business casual, just to remind yourself that you're working.

Don't Sweat The Background Noise 

Look, many of us are working from home with plenty of background noise:  significant others (who may also be working from home), children out of school, pets, doorbells, etc.  We're all dealing with it, we all get it, so don't sweat it.

Take Breaks

While you may be self-isolating or under a "shelter in place" order, but it's still possible to take breaks.  Walk away for a few minutes.  Go outside and soak up a little sunshine.  Or spend a few minutes on a quick workout.  Then come back to work refreshed and reinvigorated.

Stay Connected

Stay connected to the folks you work with.  IM, Slack, txt... whatever works for you.  Staying connected will eliminate the feelings of isolation and will also keep you engaged in the work that still needs doing.

Start The Day With A "To Do" List

Be sure you have a list of things that you intend to accomplish today.  And have that list ready and visible when you start the day's work.  Now if you're anything like me, the day never goes the way you plan.  That's OK - don't beat yourself up if some of those things don't get done.  Just carry them over to tomorrow's list.  The point is to begin the day with a purpose in mind.

Make Sure Your Web Conference Apps Work

You'll find that you spend much of your work-at-home days on Zoom, WebEx, Microsoft Teams and other web apps.  Personally, I find myself using all of those apps - and others - in the course of a normal day.  So take a few minutes once a week or so to make sure they're all updated and in working order.

The World Looks Worse Through A Screen

When you're isolated from others, the world always looks worse through a screen - phone, computer, tablet, TV, whatever.  It's easy to get caught up in the furor when you're outside your network.  So take what you see on that screen with a grain of salt.

Be Uplifted Every Day

Allow something into your life that uplifts you every day.  For me, it's classical music played from XM/Sirius Radio.  Sometimes it's checking the headlines at the Good News Network (an exception to "The World Looks Worse Through A Screen" concept).  For you, it may be a brief stroll in the sunshine or taking a few minutes with an audio book.  The point is to find something that makes you feel better and make time for it every day.

I've always enjoyed working from home.  Frankly, I'm much more productive in my home office than anywhere else.  And you may now have an opportunity to discover the same holds true for you.  For others, you'll find that you would rather be in the office.  For those in the latter category, keep in mind that this situation will pass.  So embrace this, for however long it lasts.

If you have tips for working from home, please do share in the comments.  Let's learn from each other!

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