When my mother asked me the age-old question: “If everyone else jumped off a bridge would you?” of course my answer was yes! So, I will be throwing my pebble into the ocean regarding working from home. I’ve been working from home for over a decade and below are the top 5 things I believe enable a solid experience for you and your team along with a few resources for further learning😉.
Create a Workspace
It doesn’t matter if it’s a 2×2 area or a full room, set aside a workspace that is out of the way of the day to day activities if possible. I used to be in a spare bedroom but when we got our 4th & 5th foster/adopt sons I ended up moving into my “music room” in the basement. It’s really a walk-in closet but it serves the purpose well enough. Occasionally I hear the kids or animals but for the most part it’s a quiet enough space.
Stick to a Schedule
If you already have a defined schedule for work hours, stick to it. There will always be instances where you must fiddle with your hours but if you do plan when you will make up the time. Also, create a routine to ensure that you “shut off” at some point. I had a hard time transitioning out of work mode initially (my wife would rightfully argue I still do) and I found that if I grab a tablet for 15 minutes to do crossword puzzles it helps me transition away from work.
Your family, especially kids can have a hard time distinguishing between work mode and family mode. Be clear about your schedule with your family but also be respectful that this is a two-way street. You are impacting them just as much if not more so as they are impacting you. As noted previously I am in my music room which has a “recording” light that I can turn on when in meetings, so the family knows what’s going on. There are even projects out there that allow you to use IoT to tie your lights to your presence in various applications like Teams, Slack or Skype for Business.
Use the tools available to ensure you are communicating on a regular basis with your co-workers, customers and partners. There are a lot of options out there but as we are primarily a Microsoft shop, we utilize Teams. Email still plays a large role in communications however when you are completely remote it’s important to review what you are typing up prior to hitting send (good practice in general IMO). Remember text doesn’t offer tone…what may seem completely fine to you may be taken out of context by the recipients.
Track Your Hours
As a consultant I must do this anyway but it’s also what enables me to ensure I am not over or under doing things. Everyone has their own “breaking point” regarding the daily hours. By breaking point, I mean that their productivity starts to suffer as they’ve just been at it too long. Mine is 11 hours, if I exceed 11 hours of work in a day, I am more prone to make mistakes and the quality of my work suffers. I also know that if I have days like that back to back, I need to “take it easy” the next day to recoup. I’ve learned that by tracking my hours using the pomodoro technique.
It’s important to note that what works for me may not be a good fit for you so please take the time to traverse the world wide web for various tips and tricks for working from home. As you might imagine it’s become a “hot topic” over the past couple weeks so I’ve included links to some resources below you might find valuable as well: