In our increasingly digitally connected world, many of us are able to work at any time, from anywhere, including the neighborhood coffee shop or our own home. For many people, working at home is a dream, but it’s not for everyone. And even if you’ve always wanted to do it, you probably wanted adequate time to prepare for it, so you can get as much work done at home (if not more) as you do at the office.
Public health officials continue to provide updates on the coronavirus and how to keep ourselves healthy, while some schools and other institutions have shut down or canceled events to help prevent the disease from spreading. You might find yourself working remotely sooner rather than later, which you may not feel totally prepared for.
To help you stay organized and productive, we’ve put together this list of tips to help you maximize your work at home time.
Stick to your normal routine
If you generally get to the office at 8 a.m., then plan to start work at home at 8 a.m. Doing so will allow you to have your morning routine, which to many of us is essential to starting the day right.
Don’t succumb to pressure you might feel to start work earlier, at 7 say. You can if you want to, of course, but you shouldn’t necessarily feel obligated to do that. By the same token, don’t get lax and not start until 10:30. Whatever your reason for working at home, you should make yourself available to clients and coworkers the same way you would if you were at the office.
If you’re used to showering and putting on a work outfit, do that every morning you plan to work at home if that’s what it takes to make you feel ready to take on the day. Of course, you might have a day when you wake up feeling on the brink of illness, in which case no one would blame you if you checked email in your pajamas and got back into bed for additional much-needed rest.
Stick to your to-do list
Your work priorities likely won’t shift just because you’re doing the work someplace other than in the office. Just as you adhere to your personal morning routine, you’ll want to start your workday by consulting your existing to-do list or creating one for that day.
Work your way through the list, completing the critical tasks before moving to less urgent ones. If you check off everything on today’s list before your workday is done, see what you can get started on for tomorrow’s list. Efficiency is key, and you never know what tomorrow might bring. Working ahead just might save you future stress.
Remember to take breaks
Just as you take breaks when you’re in the office, stepping away from the desk or computer at home can help keep you focused. Sometimes, when you’re stuck on a problem, having a few minutes away -- or an hour for lunch -- is just what you need to hit on a solution. When you return to the problem, you’ll do so with a refreshed mind.
Have a designated workspace
Ideally, your designated work area will not be the coffee table or the kitchen breakfast nook. If that’s the only space available to you, however, just make sure all members of the household understand that’s your office and to give you privacy when you’re sitting there and working.
Outfit your space with useful office supplies
Although you might find yourself in a situation where you’re starting a work at home program without significant time to prepare for it, a few supplies can make life easier:
- A headset with a microphone for conference calls: Maybe you have one you use in the office. Bring it home with you, if you can, or invest in another set.
- A second monitor: This might be another item you have in the office. If you aren’t able to buy another for at-home use, see if you can bring home the one from work.
- A busy light: A gadget made necessary due to the rising popularity of the open office. When it’s red, others know you’re not to be disturbed.
- Printer, paper, and ink: We live in a digital world, but printing is still sometimes necessary.
- A comfortable chair and desk: Pick a desk that’s neither too big nor too small for you and a chair you could sit in all day, if necessary, without wrecking your back.
- Adequate lighting: A room’s ceiling light might do, but a desk lamp with adjustable settings can ensure you have enough light if you need to look at papers on your desk.
Communicate with your family members, roommates, and anyone else living with you
You might not be the only adult in the household in an emergency work at home situation. If your partner or roommate(s) will all be working, let each other know what your work schedules are like.
If space is at a premium, you might need to share. That could get complicated if everyone has work-related calls, so having a schedule where everyone can get the privacy they need will help ensure everyone hits their deadlines and doesn’t miss a meeting.
If you have kids, you and your partner might need to tag-team caring for them and getting your work done. Figure that out ahead of time to keep them busy and to hopefully lessen your stress.
Got kids? Keep them busy with activities
If you’re working from home, your kids might very well be home from school, too. If they’re having elearning days, as some schools have experienced, be sure you know how to log in and use the necessary tools -- and what to do if you have trouble accessing anything.
Otherwise, make sure the kids have other activities besides homework to keep them occupied -- like drawing, coloring, doing puzzles, playing games, or even watching a movie or show.
Make a list of logins
Check that you have the cell numbers and email addresses for anyone you’ll need to be in touch with--including coworkers, clients, vendors, teachers, school administrators--and that they have yours. Yes, you likely already have this list, from when you had to have a plumber to your house or work at home with a sick kid, but it doesn't hurt to check again.
Also double-check that you have all the necessary login and password information you need to access your work files and your kids’ school information.
Finally, if you can’t access your work email or other files, do you know how to submit an IT ticket? Or who to contact otherwise?
Stock up on the essentials
As you’ve no doubt read in many other places, having two weeks’ worth of essential items on hand will ensure you have what you need if you aren’t able to leave your house. Stock up on foodstuffs, medication (prescription and over the counter), paper goods like toilet paper and paper towels, hand soap, and activities for the whole family, like puzzles and games.
Click here for a nice overview of what you will and won’t need.
Take care of yourself
We hope you and yours stay healthy. You’ve heard it all before, but here’s the drill:
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Wash your hands.
- Exercise your body, if you can: You might not be able to go to the gym or outdoors for a run, but you could do yoga in the living room and also situps, pushups, and other calisthenics. You could even make a game of exercise by seeing who in the house can do the most jumping jacks.
- Exercise your mind (outside of your day job): Read a book, watch a funny movie, play a game.
More and more companies are embarking on digital transformation journeys to continue to evolve with the world's changes. Having employees successfully (or not) work remotely can help businesses uncover areas where they’re strong in business communications and emergency situations — and also where they can improve.
Digital transformation is an ongoing endeavor. It requires a long-term vision for communication and change management as much as a focus on the technology to future proof your business.
Want to learn more about digital transformation? Let’s talk.