16 Ways to Make Working from Home Work for You
We have all entered a whole new world with unprecedented new challenges. Obviously the first concern is the health and safety of your family and co-workers. But the next thing on everyone’s mind is how to adapt to working from home. This is a lot of change all at once, so how can you make the most of it?
The following are 16 tips to help your employees and co-workers be more efficient and productive.
Be at Work
1- Keep regularly scheduled hours & get dressed every day. The more you treat this time as if you are at work, just from a new closer location with a much shorter commute, the more you will be able to actually feel a sense of ‘normal’, whatever that means now. Seriously, get dressed every day – even if it’s just from the waist up for a video call. We’ve all seen the videos of people that didn’t realize their camera was on and took the office conference call into the bathroom. Don’t be that guy.
2- Dedicate space for your “office”. Sure, we are all working at kitchen counters and dining tables, but you need to dedicate a specific area for your office and be sure to keep that space reserved for working. This will help your “co-workers” (co-habitants) respect your work time and work space.
3- Take scheduled lunches & breaks. If you usually take a morning walk to the coffee pot, grab lunch across the street, enjoy a mid-day snack, then continue that practice. It will help your mental health to take breaks throughout the day and will help you to be more productive when you go back to work.
4- Ground rules. Are you going to answer emails at 8pm? Will you jump on a zoom call at 7am? Set up the ground rules that work for you and your company. Setting those boundaries will allow you to not feel like you are at work 24-7.
5- Company culture. Treat this new working location as an extension of your actual physical office. If your office is typically coat and tie,then you will need to be the homebound version of that.
6- Stay connected with water cooler chit-chat. Don’t neglect the opportunity to socialize with your co-workers and continue to connect about your personal lives and what you are going through. Although it might not actually make the world a better place to know what they thought of Grey’s Anatomy last week, that human connection is important to maintaining mental health.
7- Laptop, webcam, headset. The amount of tech you use will be directly related to the work you do and your comfort level with all of these newfangled tools. At the very least you need a smartphone, but if you go full bore into laptop, webcam, and headset, then you will be prepared when you are able to start hanging out at coffee shops.
8- Project software. Managing your projects remotely will require some attention to details and utilizing software like Teamwork or Base Camp to maintain everything you are working on when the members of your team are doing so from many different locations. Find a software system that is easy to use, has a robust app, and provides lots of training videos and customer support. Turn to your peer group to see what other companies in your industry are utilizing to give you a place to start.
9- Server access/Google docs. Are you able to securely access your server remotely? If so, are there company protocols in place for how to do so safely and securely? If not, are you utilizing Google drive or Dropbox to share folders and files? Remember for every challenge there is a solution; you just have to find the one that works for you.
10- Meeting software. What software are you using for your meetings now that you can’t be in the same room? Zoom, Webex, Facetime and others are seeing unprecedented levels of use. Obviously this has led itself to issues with traffic, usage, hackers, etc. Look at the pros and cons of the different platforms and decide which one works best for you. Check out the online tutorials and guides to get up to speed and trained on best practices.
11- Test your tech, mute, & backgrounds. If you company wasn’t already utilizing remote meetings, then this might be a huge adjustment for some of your co-workers. Create a handy dandy guide to give them directions on how your company expects these tools to be used. Should they use a waiting room? Stay on mute until it’s their turn to talk? Are they using a virtual background when in a meeting with a client? Check out these virtual backgrounds from The Office and other tv shows. Or will you provide backgrounds with actual photos from around your office? https://www.shutupandtakemymoney.com/15-best-zoom-backgrounds-the-office-the-simpsons-rick-and-morty-and-so-many-more/
You’ve got some extra time on your hands, so how will you use that time to be even better when we are back at work?
12- Podcasts –Subscribe to some podcasts that you can listen to when you exercise, relax, or want inspiration. Check out Razor Branding Podcast (link to subscribe) or some of the options from this list by Ad Age. If you are looking for a fun, not work-related podcast, check out Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard (a personal favorite of mine) as he interviews celebrities that talk about their backgrounds and projects.
13- Books – For some, the process of actually reading a book looks more like reading on an ipad or listening via audio book. However you want to ‘read’ these books, take the time to add to your wealth of knowledge and learn about topics that will help you be better at your job and life. A few good ones that I can recommend are: Radical Candor, Start With Why, Atomic Habits, Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion, The Servant, and Who Moved My Cheese.
14- Blogs – Maybe you aren’t ready to tackle a whole book and would prefer some bite size nuggets of good info. Subscribe to some of these blogs for daily/weekly/monthly inspiration and knowledge. Check out Razor Branding (https://brandrusso.com/blog/) Copyblogger (https://copyblogger.com/blog/), Hubspot (https://blog.hubspot.com/), Seth Godin (https://seths.blog/), and Fast Company (https://www.fastcompany.com/section/blog )
15- Online classes. A number of college throughout the US (including Princeton, Harvard, and Yale) have provided free online courses that you can take. Check out this list from Business Insider (https://www.businessinsider.com/free-online-courses-from-best-colleges)
16- Be positive. I know this is scary and a really tough time so it would be easy to give in to the fear, frustration, and anger. This is tough. We are worried about health and the impact from this global pandemic. Then we also have to take into account how this is affecting our global economy and businesses. Basically it’s pretty bad on both sides. So, how can I say “be positive”? Because the alternative is too bad to contemplate. It’s hard, I get it. But you hav to make the choice to be positive. Make the choice to find the bright spot. Make the choice to make the most of this situation. Make the choice to appreciate what you have and focus on the good in your life.
How can you grow, adapt, improve, and prepare for what’s next? That is the question. Focus on your answer and find a way to turn what could be the scariest time in our life and see how you can make the best of the situation.
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