The majority of the world’s workforce has been tossed into remote work overnight and all I can think while I see yet another dog walking through Zoom is — I am here for it! I’ve had a remote office for almost two decades now and there are definitely some best practices when it comes to working from home.
See my five best tips below:
1. Stick to a Routine
When I began my company more than 18 years ago, I did it with a handful of projects but no retainer clients to help stabilize my workload. One thing I did daily, regardless of what I had, or often did not have, on my plate, is sit down at my desk and spend a certain number of hours there.
Sometimes I had projects to work on, but often there was a whole lot of idle time. Rather than get up to put another load of laundry in, I would use the time to fine tune my website copy, research networking groups (this is before LinkedIn, gulp) or play around with business card designs. By spending a certain amount of time at my desk every day I set up a consistent routine that would later serve me well as retainers and projects rolled in.
2. Designate a Space
Just like a daily routine, a designated space tells your mind that it is time to get to work. I started off with my “office” being nothing more than a desk in our guest room. But I only sat at the desk when I was there to work. Later this became even more important when I had children. As their toddler hands banged on the door relentlessly or screams could be heard from some wrestling match going on outside, my office continued to be my oasis of calm.
3. Expect the Unexpected (and Roll with It)
This is the most important piece of advice I can give you when working from home. Coronavirus has already given us all a big situation to “roll with,” but in a way it is teaching a valuable lesson. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had my dogs bark in the middle of conference calls, had something delivered to the door in the middle of a Zoom meeting, or had one of the children mentioned above come in bleeding. I used to cringe during these moments and believe the person on the other end of the line thought I wasn’t fit to take on the job.
Get over yourself! The people on the other end of the call are dealing with their own issues. So let your dog walk into your Zoom call (everyone loves it when they do that), your toddler wander in during an interview (CNN anyone?) and your doorbell interrupt when that 20th Amazon package is delivered. We’re human and life is full of interruptions — just roll with it!
4. Breaks Are Still Needed
While people often think remote workers will produce less, just the opposite happens and often people who work from home actually overdo it on hours. Without a set schedule, many people find it is tough to turn work mode off for the night or lunch or breaks.
Schedule your work from home time in the same way you would act at your office. Take time during lunch to get out and go for a run or socialize with a friend over Zoom. Get up often for breaks from your desk, even if it’s just to get another cup of coffee, and please Lord, close your computer at the end of the work day and do not get back on unless it’s a true emergency. Lines can blur quickly when your office is just steps away from your living room!
I am a huge extrovert so people are often surprised to learn the majority of my career has been spent working out of a home office. Because people are basically my love language, I have found other ways to stay connected. Now with the limited opportunities to interact with others during COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to stay connected.
Some unique ways I’ve heard of people accomplishing this during the virus is everything from daily Zoom sales calls with themes (fun hats or costume days), to Facebook and Marco Polo groups sharing photos from throughout the day, and even pet parade calls where everyone shares an animal on their video chat. The way you stay connected doesn’t matter, just ensure you’re reaching out to keep from feeling isolated.
Ensure you follow the steps above for success and don’t forget to make sure your dog looks adorable for his next Zoom cameo!