What we’ve Learned from Working at Home the Past Month6 min read
Before the pandemic, working from home for most people only happened when there were extenuating circumstances: the kids got sick, you were getting repairs done on the home, or there was a mid-day appointment and your home was closer than your work location.
Over the past month, we’ve certainly learned a lot. Some days, or even weeks, have been busier than others. We have created schedules only to have them broken, and we have participated in more video meetings than we can count. The transition may not be everyone’s favorite, but we’ve included some learnings that may help you during your at home work days to make them better!
Have a start and end to your day
Having a clear start and end to your day can help with balance. Start your day with a 15-30 minute video call with your team. During this call, talk about what you accomplished the day before, what you are working on today, and if you need anyone’s help with tasks. This meeting should be one of the first conversations you have during your day. It is an easy way to see your co-workers each day and help everyone stay on the same page.
The end of the day can be a bit trickier since you’re not at an office and need to physically leave to go home. One way to signal the end of the work day is to send a picture, gif, or video in your team’s communication channel. It could be a funny gif about going home, theme songs to well known TV shows, or funny end of movie credits or bloopers.
Create the Right Work Space
With your workspace being steps away from the bedroom or living room, it can be hard to stay focused. Creating the right workspace for you will help combat that and let you focus during the day. If possible, dedicate a single room or area in your living space as your “office.” That could be a spare bedroom, empty corner, dining room table or a basement. If you have a job where you will be on the phone or meetings frequently, try to pick a space that has a door that you can close.
In addition to picking the right space, do your best to choose the right furniture! Nothing is worse than sitting in an uncomfortable chair. With more than 40 hours per week dedicated to work, choosing the right furniture is beneficial both physically and mentally.
Lastly, your work space should also be free of clutter and mess. Treat this area as if you had coworkers. Don’t leave dirty dishes at the end of the day, and make sure you tidy up before closing down the computer. Here are some other tips on creating the ideal home office.
Keep the Company Culture Alive
Staying connected to co-workers outside your departments can be difficult while everyone is working remote. Here are some ideas that you can do to help stay connected to coworkers until you can be back in the office together.
Have a company bingo or trivia night. These are easy to organize and host. Send out an invitation after work hours or do it over a lunch break. Make sure everyone has the materials and enjoy! This is a fun, non-work activity to do to bring co-workers and families together.
Have a way to signify “wins.” At our company, every time we do something good — make a sale, save a client, have a personal win — we use our team chat and send a celebratory GIF to the team’s chat feed and let everyone know what you “won.” It is fun to see everyone’s success until you can get back in the office and hear the drum in person.
Other ways to keep culture alive is to have a group fitness challenge. A fitness challenge is a great way to motivate your co-workers to exercise and come together at the same time. It doesn’t need to be fancy, simply do a walk, bike or run challenge and have people log their miles. At the end of the challenge, have everyone submit their miles and the winners will receive prizes. To spice it up, you can have people submit pictures or videos to your team chat.
Not Everything Needs to be a Video Call
One of our partners said it best the other day “not everything has to be a video call.” While chatting over video is great and it allows us the opportunity to see each other and share screens, it also confines us to a single spot.
If your meetings are able to be taken via phone and not video, jump on that opportunity every once in a while. Throw in some headphones and take a walking meeting outside. The benefits are great. It will help you get up and move around, and walking is proven to help you think!
Schedule your day
When working from home, it can be very easy to get distracted. While breaks are beneficial and welcome, distractions like social media, TV or house chores can easily consume your day. Making a schedule at the beginning of your day will help minimize the distractions, especially if you have kids.
First, communication is key. If you have children or family members that need your attention during the day, communicate and set clear upfront expectations of when you will be available. This will help minimize disruption.
Next, fill your calendar up! When you have pockets of time during the day, add tasks on your calendar to specify what you are doing. You can block 30 minutes for lunch; an hour window for working out; or if you have kids, time to help them with their school work. Share this schedule with yourself, your family and your team so everyone can see when you’re working and when you’re not. Circumstances are different now, and it’s ok if you don’t work your normal 9-5 hours.
Last, we all know that things happen that are beyond your control. But, if you communicate clearly and outline your day, you will be able to control your time as much as possible.
Breaks are Ok and Welcome
Since working from home, many of us have found ourselves working more. With your laptop sitting only feet away, it is easy to pick it up and do some work while watching TV at night or after you put the kids to bed. They need to feel like you have to be working, or the thought of “I can spend 30 minutes on that and knock that out” have to stop.
Breaks are ok and welcome. There will likely never be another time where all of your family is together in the same house as much as this stay-at-home order. Make sure you take full advantage of it. Instead of taking lunch at your desk, eat lunch with a family member. Is the weather nice in your area? Take a 30-minute walk or bike ride in the afternoon. Spend the night playing games or watching a movie. Taking breaks and stepping away from the screen will ultimately make you more productive.