Here are the 8 most important tips that will help you in making the most of work from home without hindering your career growth and impact at your business or workplace:
One needs to arrange a dedicated work from home setup. This includes all of the below aspects:
- Physical setup: Define the space in your house to serve as a home office. Invest in a cost-effective yet ergonomic table and chair. This will be an investment and not really an expenditure. The right posture and space while sitting and working the entire day are important for your body and mind to focus without long-term harm. If you want to save money and space you could also invest in a lap-desk and work from your bed. Try to change into "work clothes". There is something in the way we dress for work that imbues in us focus as well as enthusiasm to perform. Working in your pajamas may be comfortable however, the comfort might also slacken your performance.
- Mental setup - "walk into your office" every day. Set a ritual of sorts to mentally walk into your office over and above physically going and sitting on the chair. It could be as simple as standing next to the desk and taking 3 deep breaths. Believe me, it is simple AND powerful. Avoid news, articles, and social media during the entire day of work. It is distracting and unhealthy. Set aside a specific time of the day to catch up on the latest trends and affairs.
- Technological setup - invest in some basic equipment. Now you are saving on your commute, right? So why not pick up a few essential items to increase your WFH productivity. Here are a few items we find useful:
- Wireless mouse
- Laptop stand
While we work from home a lot of things are lined up to complete. Sometimes the fluidity of not being in a physical office may affect the deliverables with one feeling overwhelmed. Keep a tab by prioritizing the following:
- Tasks - create your to-do list. They will prove to be more effective in the WFH scenario. Then on that list identify and mark the Most Important tasks, either urgent or not urgent. Focus all your energy only on those tasks and you won't even need to attend to the non-important ones.
- Meetings - in the era of countless Zoom, Meet or Teams meetings, it is key to really single out the ones that are actually important to attend. Otherwise, they can be more of distractors than enablers.
- People - in the office you could network and socialize with a lot of people. However, in the virtual workplace, the regular interactions are few. To ensure that your important relationships don't get affected identify the key people with whom you definitely need to keep in touch. This may include your supervisor, business stakeholders, clients, etc., and make sure you have some regular meetings scheduled with them.
3. Collaborate proactively and Overcommunicate
Remember those days when you could call in an ad-hoc meeting to brainstorm on the project or an urgent client problem. Everybody could pitch in ideas and you could come up with solutions through teamwork. Well, it's happening less often in the WFH reality, isn't it?
What is required thus is a proactive approach to collaborate. Schedule a brainstorming session, ask people for help, or sometimes just organize a tea time to connect with the team. It will help everyone stay connected, increase team bonding and help create good solutions.
Overcommunication is not a bad thing in some ways. In the virtual work environment, it may actually be necessary to keep communicating on a regular and proactive basis. Work from home may create a perception of whether you are working or not as people cannot 'see' you working.
So, write immaculate emails, chat, or call people often. The more the better.
4. Set up a routine
In a WFH scenario, people end up stepping out of bed and onto their laptops for work. Many times one eats their meals also while working. While it sounds very convenient and cool it may disrupt our bodies and minds in more ways than imagined. Make sure you create a routine for the day (few exceptions allowed). A typical routine must include:
- Meals - breakfast, lunch, dinner timings
- Sleep - ideally 6~8 hours a day
- Exercise - in any form
- Work - number of hours ideally spent each day
- Breaks - short breaks are really powerful, it could be just 5 minutes yet it could add tremendously to your productivity
- Family time - more in point no. 5 below
- Repeat - create a habit out of the above routine
5. Manage the children and spouse
A colleague once told me how her daughter used to especially come to her during meetings throughout the day. And each time she would ask for something to snack. This was despite the fact that my colleague was ensuring her daughter has proper meals. So she did something interesting. She created small packets and boxes of snacks and hid them throughout the house at night. Now every time her daughter would come to her, my colleague would simply tell a clue for her to find out the snack. And it would keep her busy.
Learn something? Yes, the kids will bother you. They are kids, right :)?
Create some interesting things for them to be engaged with so that you can focus on your work. Plan the day with your partner so you are well synced.
6. Ask for help. And Provide it too!
We hesitate to ask for help. Some people feel it shows weakness, others think they don't want to burden another person. However more than anytime before, this is a moment where all of us could benefit from some help.
Need help with a presentation? Have to complete a report but your laptop is running slow? Need to fetch groceries?
Call a colleague and ask them for help. More often than not they would be ready to help. And you could be that colleague too for someone. It will benefit you and everyone around you.
7. Take leaves
No more annual holiday plans for the next dream destination? This should not stop us from taking a break. Weekends are there however people end up doing household chores the entire time. And you have the annual leaves piling up.
So how about a staycation? Plan a few days off. It could be time for you to unwind, relax, engage with family, reorganize the wardrobe, or catch up on your favorite movies and shows. These planned staycations could go a long way in avoiding burnout and rejuvenating you.
8. Keep learning
Never underestimate the power of continuous learning. And there is no better time than right now when working from home is saving a lot of time otherwise spent in commuting etc.
Take up an online course. Join a virtual classroom session. Read books. Enroll in a peer learning group on a common topic of interest. This time spent in learning could boost your career and enhance your success in the workplace or business.
Get going and make the most of this period of work from home.