If you’ve never worked from home before, it can be a challenge to find a new rhythm, get used to meeting with your colleagues via web conference and know when to start and stop working. Parts of your job that never seemed difficult before can suddenly create confusion at home, like knowing how to track and measure your progress or communicating clearly during highly collaborative projects.
Working remotely can be a highly productive and satisfying experience, but it does require creating some boundaries and setting up a clear rhythm to your workday.
Create and Protect a Designated Workspace
Working from your bed or couch might seem appealing initially, but we recommend finding a comfortable, ergonomically-sound workspace, and doing the bulk of your work there. Set up a small computer desk and organize files beside it or beneath it. Order additional file folders, bins and binders to help keep you organized, and add in a white board or visual detail to help you keep on track and stay organized while you work. Inform your family that this space is off limits, and when the work day is finished, close it up and leave it until tomorrow.
Working remotely can drive productivity, but it also requires new ways of communicating with team members. Over-communicate with your colleagues while working from home, and don’t assume that anyone is aware of your progress, what you’re working on, what your priorities are or what you need from them unless you tell them clearly and concisely.
Track and Share Progress
While working remotely, it’s important to use tools to track and measure progress, to make it easy for your employers to see what you’re up to, and also to alert your team members as to where you all stand in the process. Share progress by sending a morning email to your team, through project management apps or by hosting a daily or weekly video chat to forecast and review.
Promptly Return: Emails, Texts, Calls and Voicemails
Don’t let the overwhelm keep you from staying on top of your communications with others. Be prompt in returning emails to clients and colleagues, texts with your boss, calls and emails with team members, etc. While you aren’t working beside each other, you’ll want to do what you can to stay closely connected, especially when working from a distance.
Watch Your Time
While some people envision working from home as creating laziness and poor productivity, research shows it’s usually the opposite. Set a start and work time each day, and inform family members and roommates of these times. Once you’ve stopped working for the day, don’t continue to check email and pick up small bits of work before bed. Take breaks throughout the day to stretch, walk and get fresh air. Your time is valuable, and using it wisely and within appropriate limits will go a long way to help keep it that way.
Even if you aren’t comfortable with video or don’t feel tech savvy, use and integrate video calls into your work life. It’ll help your teams to stay connected, allow you to better interact with your clients and give you a sense of “being together” when you can’t be. It allows deeper connection with colleagues and, frankly, can be a lot of fun, once you’re used to it. Just don’t make the mistake of using video in your pajamas or in the living room while the kids are playing with paint.
Dress for Success
Maintain your daily morning rituals, including getting showered and dressed each day. We know it sounds silly, but it will help to lift your mood and get your mind in the right space to tackle your work day, even in the midst of transition and change. You don’t have to don your finest suit, but consider putting on comfortable business casual attire that allows you to feel like yourself, even when you’re working from your bedroom.
Cut yourself a lot of slack during this time, and take extra gentle care of yourself as you transition. Working from home takes time and an adjustment, and it can be mentally overwhelming and even emotionally draining. If you find that the isolation and being by yourself all the time is wearing on you, schedule an after work web call with team members to vent and share about your day. Connection is key during remote work, and so is keeping your mind and body feeling healthy. Head out for walks during short calls, get up from your desk often to stretch and move and eat healthy, nutritious food that fuels your body.