5 Timely Tips to Thrive During The Work-at-Home Experiment
Covid-19 played a cruel trick on business this month. Almost overnight it created the craziest experiment of all-time. It forced millions of workers to stop “going to work” and start “working from home” overnight, many for the first time. In fact, many of these employees were told prior to this event that working from home was not only forbidden, but impossible. Then all of a sudden, working from home was mandatory. Necessity once again became the mother of invention (and convenience.)
Unfortunately most workers were left on their own to figure out how to connect, collaborate and be productive using their personal devices and home networks. The vast majority of companies had no contingency or continuity plans to function during a pandemic. For those that did, the plans were grossly naive. As a result, the abrupt and sudden transition from relying on a company’s equipment and connectivity to DYI (do-it-yourself) hasn’t been pretty.
Yes, there are workers who are technologically savvy and wealthy enough to own multiple devices, subscribe to high speed broadband, ensure protection and security is up to par, and connect seamlessly to the Internet using smart technologies. If you fall into this category, this article is just a checklist.
For everyone else, this might be survival list. If you are a family whose young adults and school age children are all vying to connect to the Internet at the same time, I’ve got a few pieces of advice that can either make-or-break your work-from-home experiment.
Create a workspace.
This is the first thing you need to do. It won’t matter if doing your work on a smartphone or PC. Working-from-home is inherently different than going-to-work. There are technological, physical, and psychological differences. This needs to be a space where you can get in the “zone” and also walk away from when you’re “done with work.”. This space can be a desk, a table, a box, a shelf, the floor, or an ironing board. It doesn’t matter what you use or where it is in your home or apartment. For the time being, this space is your office, where you work.
Go to Work.
Schedule regular work hours. Have a set-time you open and close. You need to be able to go to work, even if it’s just a few steps away. One client shared with me how she gets up each morning, feeds the kids, kisses them good-bye, walks out the door, walks to the corner, then “goes to work” by entering through another entrance and entering her office (which just happened to be the kitchen table!) That might be a bit extreme. Find a routine and stick with it.
You don’t have to isolate yourself but you do need to set work-from-home rules. Take it from me. I’ve worked from home for nearly 20 years. When you work from home, others don’t see you working. They just see you at home doing work. But you’re not just home, you’re at work! Close the door. If you don’t have a door, hang out a Do-Not-Disturb sign. To succeed at this experiment, set some rules.
Create A Work-from-Home Culture.
Just because you don’t go to work doesn’t mean there isn’t a company culture. While you can’t hang out in the lunch room or at the water-cooler, you can still meet. Why not create a space on Slack, Messenger, or Zoom to check in with colleagues several times a day. Hold a morning huddle. Schedule your break time. Take lunch. Hold a virutal lunch-n-learn with your team (or family.). The world didn’t stop turning. It’s just different living here on earth for a while.
Stick to Your Morning (and other) Rituals.
To the best of your ability, follow the same rituals before Covid-19 disrupted our routines. If you used to get up and exercise, what’s stopping you from doing it now? If you got the kids up, dressed, fed, and out the door, continue the routine (except don’t send the kids out the door until we get the all-clear). That might be easier said than done but I’ve been reading very creative ways parents are keeping their children occupied and the adults are exercising.
Just Scratching the WFH Surface.
These tips barely scratch the surface of things you must consider when working-from-home. Click Here to view a more comprehensive list with details.
I hope you’ll share your own tips below. How is the work-at-home experiment going for you? Where do you need help? What tips can you offer? What did I miss?
In my next post, I plan to share a list of basic technology requirements. For some of the above tips and most of the technology recommendations, I’ve got to thank Shelly Palmer. I’ve followed Shelley for years and I’ve got to say, his common sense approach to technology is both insightful and practical. This past weekend he recorded a webinar with 130 of his closest “friends.”
You can watch the full video here. He covers both the work-at-home recommendations I mentioned above as well as technology requirements that I’ll post next.
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