Working from home.
It’s the new reality for our team as well as millions of other Americans who are lucky enough to have flexible options during the COVID-19 crisis.
I worked in a virtual office for more than 11 years, so trust me when I say it can be a challenge – especially for those who’ve never done it before or those who don’t have an organized workspace.
Below are a few things I learned from my work from home experience – tips to help you be productive without going stir crazy.
• Set a schedule and stick to it. Your clients and co-workers need to know when you will and will not be available.
• Create dedicated office space. We don’t all have an extra room in our homes or apartments, but it is important to have space set aside for your computer, files and important documents – preferably not accessible by three-year-olds with crayons.
• Dress the part. Showering and changing out of your pajamas will improve your focus – not to mention your appearance on video conference calls.
• Limit distractions. It’s easy to get sucked into a Law and Order marathon, so keep the television off and concentrate on the task at hand.
• Set ground rules for family members. If you’re a parent, you’re probably pulling double duty – holding down your full time job while homeschooling your children. Stock up on books, puzzles and other educational games that will keep them busy when they’re not completing assignments. Remember the video of little girl strolling into her dad’s interview? Trust me when I say, it can happen to you!
• Take advantage of technology. With Slack, Skype, Zoom and other platforms, you can stay connected with your clients and co-workers. Also, don’t forget the little things like a charger, mouse, keyboard, headphones, etc.
• Overcommunicate. Share your schedule with co-workers. Pick up the phone when there are questions about projects. Don’t make assumptions about important tasks.
• Embrace the exclamation point. Without face time, your coworkers will often have to interpret your tone from email or instant messages, so keep them positive – overly so, if necessary.
• Set a schedule and stick to it. Yes, I’m repeating the first bullet, because I think it’s the most important. When you work from home, it’s easy to keep working – long after the workday should be over. To maintain a positive work/life balance, close the laptop, walk away from your desk and enjoy your family and friends.
Most importantly… maintain social distance and stay healthy. It’s a stressful time of uncertainty, but we’re all in this together.