From My Desk: Working from Home

Christine Johnson on
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Today may be your first day working from home or one of too many to count days.  I fall in the latter group.  Between my own business, working for a technology company that embraced working from home early on, and working gig jobs where my home office is home base, I have learned actions I need to take to make working from home productive and successful.

Tips for a Successful Transition to Working Remotely

  • Find a workspace that works for you. For me, I have a home office that I have rearranged several times over the last few years to make the room flow better.  (Notice my desk is permanently on sliders.)  I also have a couple of other “go-to” places in my house I can work if I need a change of scenery.
  • Some days you will feel the work from home vibe and some days you won’t. At first it is a new and exciting way to work, but distractions are all around you – kids, laundry, dinner, a spider web from your overhead light fixture.  Just one load of laundry.  Just one junk drawer that needs cleaning and rearranging.  (Guilty here!)  If you are not careful, the distractions can eat up the time you want to devote to working.
  • Try to create a schedule that works for your current situation and/or use a timer to block your time. Conduct a real assessment of your to do list and determine the approximate length of each item.  Work towards completing a task during that specific time period.  Personal note:  At least in the beginning, add extra time to whatever amount you decide.
  • Schedule “non-work time.” For most of us, we are not physically at the office 24/7.  You shouldn’t be at home either. Your body and mind need time to decompress more now than ever.  Additionally, there are family obligations that may need your presence.
  • If you need to schedule calls or virtual meetings, try to schedule them when your world is least chaotic. With kids in the house, you may want to consider using nap times or a special movie showing to schedule important conversations.  I implore everyone – with kids or without kids – no parent shaming if you hear background cries or squeals.  Remember the video when a journalist was interrupted by his young children?  The video went viral. And that was on a regular day (without a world health emergency)!
  • If you are staring at your computer screen feeling stressed because you cannot get anything done, step away from the desk.   Get a glass of water.  Take a breath of fresh air.  I compare this situation to the feeling I get when I can’t sleep so I lay there longer trying to force myself to sleep.  When we try to force something, it is less likely to happen.
  • Your productivity will fluctuate. Just like it does in the office.  When is your most productive part of the day?  Mine is early morning to before lunch.  As mentioned above, lots of activities can get in the way of you being productive, not the least of which are concern and worry over our current life situations.  I have days when I am way more productive at home than I would be in an office.  On others, the best I can say is I get stuff done.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself.  Self-criticism only amplifies productivity lags.  If you continue to struggle, talk with another colleague or if comfortable, your manager.  Inspirational words of knowing that you are not alone in your struggles are sometimes the needed boost.  Remember, social distancing does not lessen our needs for social connectivity.  We just have to be more creative in how we connect.
  • Technology is apt to fail a time or two. This typically happens to me when I have a project with a deadline lurking.  Take a deep breath.  If you have an IT team you can reach out to, use your resources.  If you are on your own, get creative.  I find googling my exact problem typically finds the answer or a step towards an answer.  If all else, try restarting or reconnecting your device.  I speak personally when I say on several occasions, if I would have only reset my computer, I would have saved myself a couple of hours of time and a ton of frustration.

Additional Resources on Working Remotely

NPR: How to work from home

NT Post: How to cope when working from home

Change is challenging enough when it’s not caused by something new, sudden and completely out of our control.  Do your best to manage and learn from having a new work environment.

I am here to support you and your organization during this hyper-drive workplace transition.  Reach out to me with questions about remote working. Or even share your remote worker best practices.

-Christine


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