I’ve worked remotely for 12 years and love it. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy. There is plenty of juggling to do to ensure your work presence is as seamless at home as it was when you worked in an office.
I have a feeling the current pandemic is going to change our workplaces forever, as many will discover how really great it is to work from home. These tips can help you navigate this new uncharted territory, even if it is just temporary.
1. Don’t pretend your home is an office. It’s not, and I really hate all the advice that gives you militant ways to make it so. Instead, arrange your space so it works for you. Yes, have a clean, organized place that’s quiet where you can take video calls, if needed. But for the rest of the time, choose a place where you work best. Standing at a kitchen island? On a yoga ball chair at the dining room table? On your balcony with a nice view? At a traditional desk with all your office tool around? All good—if it works for you.
2. Keep the TV off, period.
3. Stay connected. It takes more of an effort to stay in touch with virtual team members. Why not try some of the new technology out there. Everyone at this point has probably had a Zoom meeting, but get out of your comfort zone and try different technology, such as Slack. It allows you to message, call and do video meetings all from the same app—on your desktop or phone. For us, it’s been great during this current crisis, as our work phone lines and Zoom have had connectivity issues.
4. Be open to technology that others would like to use. I do better on audio calls, as I find video calls distracting (What IS that behind their desk!). But, I have colleagues who are the exact opposite, so I’m open to switching it up. Try it; you may find that you actually like a different form of communication.
5. Cover the camera on your laptop. I use a super low-tech method: I cut the sticky part off of a sticky note and cover it. Easy on, easy off. If you don’t do this, you WILL at some point be caught off guard on a conference call that automatically starts with video.
6. Avoid time-sucks, unless that’s what you’re looking for. Social media can suck you into its dark recesses and spit you out a half an hour later and you have no idea where that time went. Try to avoid recreational social media, unless you need a short break (and we all do from time to time) or you work in social!
7. Block out lunch in your calendar so no one can schedule over it. This is especially important if you’re working across time zones. Those in “later” time zones are often at the losing end of the fight between meeting scheduling and lunch. This is also a fairly new tip in my own arsenal and it’s made a big difference. I no longer reach 3 PM, look up and realize I haven’t eaten because I’ve been on back-to-back meetings.
8. It’s OK to do some non-work things, but keep it simple. Think of it as the at-home version of hitting the break-room or having coffee. Put in that load of wash. Load your plates into the dishwasher after you make lunch. Don’t do deep spring cleaning or sort your sock drawer. It may be tempting, but don’t.
9. Enjoy the benefits. Eat a great, fresh meal for lunch. Enjoy your 18-step commute. Stash the cash you save on gas in savings or a fun-money account.
10. Be glad this video was not you. (But these days it could be!)