These are crazy times. People who never had the option to work from home suddenly are finding themselves trying to learn how to be productive with the kids at home, the dog barking, and that pile of dishes and laundry calling them away from work. It’s not easy. But, there are ways to make it better.
Have a dedicated workspace at home
It’s tempting to bring your laptop into bed or flip on the TV while you try to work from home. The key word there is “try.” Avoid that pitfall by setting up a dedicated space in your home. Having a space away from distractions will help you stay engaged and tick tasks off your to-do list!
Maintain normal work-from-home hours
Set a schedule and follow-it. It is easy to start to blend work life and personal life. Following a schedule will help relieve that stress. Start work at the same time each day and try to get ready as if you are going into the office. Get out of your pajamas. It helps set the tone for the day.
One WFH (work-from-home) veteran picks up her purse and carries it down to her basement with her to start the day, just as she would when going to an office. At the end of the work day, she brings it back upstairs to signal work is over. She’s got a short commute!
Keep in mind, you may need to set boundaries with your co-workers, clients and bosses who are bored and using work to cope with self-isolation. Make it clear an 8 p.m. conference call with no emergency interferes with the children’s bedtime and suggest a morning call instead.
Email, IM, text, video call; however you decide to stay connected, lean into it. Overcommunicate, even if it feels like too much, everyone will appreciate it. It’s easy for coworkers to become isolated and lose track of what the team is doing or for customers to lose track of deadlines and next steps in this unprecedented time. Make it a little easier for them to manage by keeping them in the loop.
Many people who work from home regularly end up having faster response times to messages, mainly because they want to prove they are, in fact, working. That’s why it’s so important to take small breaks and set a schedule. (See above!)
Show Compassion to Coworkers Working from Home
Understand that your team has kids, spouses, animals and other family members that aren’t used to them being home. Show compassion and be open to the fact that work hours might not be “normal.” If you need someone urgently, call or text them. They may be busy feeding the baby or taking a walk to keep the dog from ripping the house apart and not watching email like a hawk. Give them the graciousness you would like in return. We can all use a little grace right now.