It has become the largest social experience of forced isolation and working from home that has ever happened. And you may be wondering how you make this time productive and, pardon the pun, workable. Many in our company telecommute (what an old-fashioned word!) at least a couple of days a week and so for those of you new to the concept, we thought we would offer up some of our best practices for staying productive and separating your work and home life when work is at home!
Set up some space in your home that is dedicated to work if you can. Have a proper chair, keyboard, mouse and monitor to help with strain and make it easier to work. Smooshed on the sofa with your laptop will not lead to a happy back at the end of the workday! A separate workspace also helps to mentally separate you from work when the day is over.
One thing that is great about work from home is that you can roll out of bed and be at your desk but because you will eventually be back in your office, it’s best if you keep a schedule that is consistent. Don’t get on your computer at six in the morning because you will be done (mentally) by 3 pm and your colleagues will expect you to be still working. Keep your standard nine to five schedule (or whatever your schedule is). Do you normally have a long commute? Use that time wisely, take the dog for a walk, do a morning yoga session or treat yourself to a proper breakfast and eat it with your kids instead of the food-on-the-run we all know you probably do!
This probably goes with the set a schedule but I find that when I work from home, I get so involved in what I’m doing that I forget to eat lunch – I don’t have colleagues around to remind me that it’s lunch time! And then I have afternoon meetings, and I don’t have time. I also think it’s a great idea to go for a walk at lunch. Sometimes, working from home means being stuck at your desk. Even meetings are at your desk – so get outside, go for a walk at lunch, take a mental break. Those breaks are also for your eyes. When we stare at screens, we tend not to blink, which can lead to dry eyes. A handy rule of thumb is to think of the rule of 20/20/20 which says every twenty minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This can rest your eyes from looking at the screen.
Our office is not typically keen on video chat, but with the recent requirement to work from home exclusively, my immediate team decided that we needed the extra connection that a video chat brings. It helped me feel closer to my team and not quite so alone! On a normal work-from-home day, I tend to use chat a lot – not everything needs an email. Sometimes it’s a quick work-related question, a request for a quick call or just a note to say ‘hi’.
The drive by chats in the office are great for check ins but sometimes get missed when working from home. Send your team a chat to say a project task is done or if you have a question. Consider a daily or a couple-of-times-a-week team meeting via teleconferencing tools (i.e. Teams or Zoom) to check in and make sure that everyone knows what is coming and the workload for other members of your team.
Some of our officemates are experts at working from home and working with remote teams due to our work with the Bloc in the U.S. and Manila and having remote technical development teams but for others it is a new experience. Hopefully these tips will help keep this forced work-from-home time healthy, happy and productive.