Pattie Lovett-Reid: Tips for working from home
Working from home is not for the faint of heart. Those who have mastered this: I have a new found respect for you. I feel isolated, frustrated, and once fantasized that I would work for a little, go for a run for a break and even start making a healthy lunch choices. What a dreamer. I'm glued to my computer, I find myself taking on more and more to prove I'm working (in case there was any doubt) and the hours have stretched into a working day that is not sustainable.
Yikes and I'm only on day two.
I needed help, so I reached out to the pros to get some valuable insight. Michael French, regional manager at human resource consulting firm Robert Half, offered up these suggestions in an email.
1.Choose a designated workspace. Preferably an office, desk, or the dining room table. This sets the expectation that when you’re in that space, you are off limits to interruptions. If you’re working in a full house, this can be especially important to delineate from the get-go.
2. Create a daily itinerary. A sense of routine is so important for giving your day direction. Set times for lunch, breaks, and quitting time, and be sure to stick to them. It can be easy to feel like you have less balance at home because work and life blend together so much. That’s why it’s crucial you stick to your schedule and make it a point to log off and stay off at the end of the day. Set those boundaries!
3. If you feel tempted by chores, remember that you’re sticking to a schedule. Just like when you work from the office. Only do laundry or other tasks during breaks or designated time periods.
Here are some additional tips on how to stay connected and productive.
1. Maintain regular communication. Schedule recurring online meetings or conference calls when possible. Ask your manager for a designated time to check in, ask questions and share any project updates. The more you communicate with remote colleagues, the more connected the team will feel.
2. Prioritize catch-ups. It’s worthwhile to consider setting up a short team meeting — say every other Friday — strictly for the purposes of catching up, like a virtual coffee break. Make a point to use your video on these (or even all) calls. It’ll make you feel closer, even when working from afar.
3. Stay on top of your workload by understanding what your manager expects. Try to over-communicate with your manager during the initial weeks. Communicate to-dos for the coming days, and don’t forget to list priorities for the following day so everything remains top of mind once you’re back online the next morning.
4. Make sure you’ve got the tools you need to stay connected. Be sure your home computer, phone and other required equipment are up-to-date and safeguarded by your company against security threats. Speak with your manager if you don’t have what you need. Using online collaboration tools like Skype, Slack and Google Hangouts can keep distant colleagues connected instantly. Also, a centralized calendar sharing your home office hours with members of your team helps ensure projects flow smoothly.
“Any professional – at whatever tenure – needs to realize that especially at a time like this, working from home won’t be perfect,” French said. “You need to be okay with your spouses, your kids, your pets suddenly creeping into a video conference unannounced.”
“Working from home happened so suddenly for so many people – know that it’s okay to open up a little, to show your colleagues, managers or staff more aspects of who you are.”