This coronavirus pandemic may be the time that introverts trained for their entire lives, but it might not be so easy for the rest of us! You may have kids at home who usually are at school during the day, and working from home could be a little difficult at first as everyone adjusts.
However, now that many employers are forced to trust their workers at home in a way they never had to before, they may be pleasantly surprised by how productive people can be. Even when employees are not in the office with managers breathing down their necks!
How many time-wasting office meetings can be handled over email? Or more quickly online using a tool such as Zoom, Skype, WebEx, or a similar service? Working remotely may very well be the wave of the future.
The more productive you can be working from home, the better. Not just to show your employer that it’s both possible and beneficial. But also to give you more time with your family. If you can get your work done in a few hours instead of eight, then you have more time with the family.
The key to successfully working from home is to be professional.
Different people work differently, but there are some common ground rules that cover most professionals who are working at home.
Set aside a space in your home that is only for you to work. Not the sofa, or the dining room table where everyone eats their meals. Preferably, find a room with a door that you can close. If it’s a closet, that’s fine.
Having a door makes it easier to set boundaries for your family. While the door is closed, no one is to disturb you. If you can’t work in a space with a door, you’ll need some other way to communicate that you’re working and not to be disturbed.
You may set aside the space only for work. If you’re there, you’re not to be disturbed. Or you may need some sort of signal, like a sign hung on the back of your chair that says “Do Not Disturb”.
It also helps you set up your own mindset. While you’re in that space, you’re not doing laundry or horsing around with the kids. You’re doing work and dedicating that time to your employer.
Set it up as ergonomically as you can, so that you’re staying safe even while you’re at home.
If you’ve never worked from home before, this might be a tough one! The easiest way is to keep the same schedule that you had while you were in the office. Get up at the same time, do your workout, eat breakfast, etc.
Yes, you can still work out even if you can’t go to the gym! (And you should.) Getting outside is great for your health, both physical and mental. Go for a walk or a run. If the weather is bad, stream an online workout video. Even if you have an injury, you can find workout videos that work around it!
Get to your designated location at the time you normally would, or even earlier if you had a commute. Try not to check emails first thing – you’re more productive early in the morning so don’t waste it!
If you can’t squash your workday into a few hours (and you might be able to now that you’re not dealing with unproductive meetings and fewer emails), plan on taking your usual lunch break.
Leave your work area. Eat with your family, maybe take a quick walk outside, and then get back to work.
If you can get everything done in a few hours, you may not need a lunch break.
Make sure you end your workday as you normally would. You don’t need to be on email 24/7, unless you’re some kind of emergency or first responder. Make your list of to-dos for the next day and straighten up your workspace.
If you deal with sensitive client information, ensure that you maintain the same privacy routines that you did at the office. Don’t leave client information lying around on your desk, and if you’re using a work computer, make sure it’s locked when you’re done.
3. Family boundaries
This could be the most difficult part of working from home, whether or not you have kids! You’re there physically, and it might be hard to break the rest of the household from trying to talk to you or asking you questions.
You’ll probably need to continue to enforce the boundaries for some time. Even when it’s just adults in the household! Keep doing it. Continue to let people know that you’re working and should not be interrupted. Every time. Eventually, they’ll get it,as long as you don’t give in.
If you’re married with children and both of you worked outside the home, you may need some kind of child-care schedule. For example, you watch the kids in the afternoon while your spouse works, and they watch the kids in the morning while you work.
It’s a little tougher if you’re the only one staying home with your kids. If they’re old enough, you can develop a plan for them to do during the day while you’re working.
But you may need to take more frequent breaks to make sure that they’re staying on track. And you may not want to have your workplace with a door, because you’ll probably want to keep an eye on them.
It’s not the best setup for working, but both workers and employers need to be flexible during this time. Schools are all closed, so trust that you’re not the only one!
Staying in professional clothes is best when you’re new to working from home. It helps you set the tone for yourself that you’re working, not merely entertaining yourself at home. And obviously it’s a signal to your household that you’re working, because you’re in your work clothes.
You may be participating in online calls to stay in touch with the team. Wearing your jammies, or your loungewear with the stained shirt, is not going to inspire confidence!
You might go with business casual instead of a suit. Especially if you have pets, so you don’t get their hair all over your spiffy suit. But remember it’s business casual, not casual casual. Don’t wear anything you’d be ashamed to let your boss see you in.
Are you enjoying working from home, or is it a chore? Let us know in the comments!