The Arch Way: Telecommuting (Working From Home)
Trading traffic for time can sound like the perfect way to justify a “work from home” or remote day. Especially with the #coronavirus pandemic, many of us are having to adjust to a new normal. But let’s face it — not all jobs can do this, and certainly not everyone is equipped to do this. If and when you are faced with the option of working remotely, here are 5 steps to maximize productivity, and increase motivation to make your work-from-home schedule a success!
1. SPACE – create an “office room” with a desk, lamp, phone charger, with pens, post-it notes and notepads. You may not have your office cubicle but you can mimic this by creating a safe space that will look professional, accessible and inviting to create your work day. Avoid working at the breakfast table, your sofa, or your bed because these are too many potential distractions (pantry, TV, nap, relatives/roomates). If your work allows it, you could also change up the “remote” office periodically like work out of a nearby coffee shop (good opportunity to network with others), a coworking space or even different rooms of the house on different days. If space is limited, you could use a partition to divide up a room.
2. SCHEDULE – start your day with a plan on the three most important things to accomplish. You may want to write those down or use post-it notes or a google calendar. You could even schedule these the day before so you know your major goals to accomplish! You should set realistic deadlines for each task you want to finish so it does not back log. The easiest way is to jot down a list with check boxes (type or write). If you have ten things on your list, prioritize and refine them based on what is due that day, or that hour. If something can be delegated or pushed off, then do so! We are wired to be creatures of habits. Make sure you get up at the same time, and start your work day just like you would if you were driving in to work. You should set aside time for your morning coffee, breakfast and shower. Get dressed as if you were actually going to work even if it means a casual Friday style (think polo and jeans). Try to create goals to finish before lunch, before 3 p.m. and before you wrap up your day. While you may have had a routine to pick up coffee before going to work or squeezing in a work out after your shift, create similar patterns when you work from home. Also, know that you don’t have to be accessible 24/7 when you are working remotely.
3. STRUCTURE – while bathroom breaks, water cooler conversations and lunch plans can break up your day at office, you also may have that nosy coworker spreading the office gossip or airing some dirty laundry. But while you work from home, you may be distracted through other things like food breaks, TV news in the background, or YouTube music videos. While a little stretch break or bathroom break is fine, try the 60/10 rule. Focus on the task for an hour and then take a ten minute break to grab water, run to the bathroom etc… It may help to dress up with a business shirt just to get into “work mode!” (i.e. avoid working in pajamas or from your bed).
4. SOCIALIZE – thanks to web tools like Zoom, Google hang outs and Skype you can always take a break to get some virtual face-to-face interaction with your colleagues, client or boss. While you don’t have to wear a suit or dress, remember to keep a professional look. You don’t want to be wearing your pajamas or look like you just rolled out of bed. Part of this also making sure the space behind you is clean, organized and clutter free. Your coworkers may get distracted by all the mess behind or your pets running around. Try to keep a consistent meeting time for brainstorming and collaboration! Ask your team mates something awesome that happened (or will happen) that week or something they are thankful for! If you are on important meetings with executives, you don’t want your children screaming around in the background. Let your family members or roommates know if you are in meetings! Lighting is also a key component to make sure you look and sound great on calls. Add a stash of books to keep your laptop camera eye level. Balance your background with a bookshelf, plant or painting. Try to not have an arch or pole or split above your head! Wear contrasting colors to your background wall. Frame yourself so your head is at the top of the screen and your chest is at the bottom. Make sure your room is also doesn’t echo and put yourself on mute when not speaking! Do not have a window or a light behind you but instead find natural lights that aim at your face or use simple lamps or ring lights:
5. SUMMARIZE – a good way to wrap up the work week is to celebrate the wins and share with your boss what you were able to do either through a quick phone call or an email on one outstanding achievement. Perception is reality in any business. While you may not see your boss, you also want to fairly and accurately let them know what you have been working on and what you plan to do the next week. If you need more help, ask for it. If you have finished something early, explain how. If you are struggling on a project, leverage other resources. Your boss most likely wants you to come with solutions and not complaints. You want to find ways to make your boss look good by showcasing how you have done things faster, cheaper or efficiently. Take initiatives by attending online webinars or sharing inspiring materials. Compliment a coworker for a job well done. Save your positive messages or praises into a ‘happy gram’ folder! And here’s a sign, if you truly don’t find meaning in your work week-after-week or it causes anxiety or stress, it may be signs to find a new role at your employment or look for a new job or career. You typically spend 8 hours (or 1/3rd) of your day with your job. Find ways to leverage your skills to create a job you love!