Work from home advice

Work from home advice

WFH Day 4698:

I’ve been full-time work from home for the past 12+ years. For many of you newly working from home (WFH), what you are encountering now isn’t our normal. Work in isolation is more like it. Know that this isn’t what was normal before, but can become our new normal for a while. Even for those of us that don’t have difficulties with isolation, we do indeed encounter many more challenges now than we have previously.    

While you might struggle with isolation, know that working from home isn’t for everyone. People thrive in different environments. What works for you isn’t necessarily what works for someone else. Personally, I thrive with the solitude of a home office environment. My efficiencies skyrocketed when I transitioned to working from home. Others find too many distractions and prefer the office environment. Understanding that this environment might not be what works for you in the long term will help you make the right adjustments in the short term to manage well. Work from home CAN be easy when you figure out what works for you.

That said, here are some key tips I discovered that can help you transition into this new normal for a while:

  • Set up a workspace that is devoted to work. That is, don’t use areas for multiple purposes if you can avoid it. Having a dedicated space, away from your bedroom or where you eat meals, gives you the ability to walk away from work for a break (or at the end of the day) without feeling like it is following you wherever you go.
  • For some people, making sure you get dressed before you log in to work is also a huge benefit. It helps you change your frame of mind from “home” to “work” and focus . Acts like a light switch for your brain to shift from relaxing to working, and back.
  • Use collaborative tools to stay in touch and be available. Slack is a great instant messaging tool that allows for open and private communication. Skype also works well for video and chat, while Zoom is a great tool for video meetings. BOX for shared files and notes is a godsend as well for collaboration as well.
  • Communication and responsiveness are critical to remote work. Likewise, availability is also crucial to making sure you (and your team) are seen as productive. Be clear about the times you are available, as well as the times you won’t, and stick to it. If someone messages you, reply quickly even if only to say you need to research the answer. Working remotely is tough because “out of sight out of mind” can definitely come in to play especially with people who are unfamiliar with working in such an environment. Be visible, but respect your own boundaries.
  • Take 5 minutes on meetings to connect with your team and socialize. This little time keeps the team close, feeling heard and seen, and more relaxed than just focusing on business.
  • As we talk about meetings… Respecting people’s time is also crucial: start meetings on time, end on time, have clear objectives and agendas before the call, and action items at the end.
  • Minimize distractions and create clear delineations of work versus not work. These boundaries are important to ensure success in this new environment.
  • Make sure that team members have access to information in case one team member is unreachable to share their knowledge. Look for blind spots or bottle necks of information and make sure you have a contingency plan for if the person isn’t available to answer or accomplish what needs to be done. This is business continuity at its core; cross training and access to knowledge. Wikis, Slack channels, and even blog posts are great collaborative tools to use to transparently share knowledge to the right audiences.
  • And, of course, multiple monitors make work much easier as well, especially for multitasking during video calls or just working like you normally would in the office. Likewise, if you’re on as many calls as I am, get multiple headsets too. When your batteries run out mid-call, you’ll thank me for this little tidbit 😉

Beyond any of this advice, the key is just knowing how you work and what works for you. Making small adjustments for your new normal now will make a world of difference in your happiness and enjoyment in the future.