Tips to getting it right from a former office dweller.
In light of the ‘new normal’ that we have all found ourselves in, many folks have been asked to leave the comfort of their office cubicle to start working from home. For most, working from home is not part of their normal routine so this change can be disruptive to their productivity, social interaction, and even mental health.
2 years ago, I was in the same boat. I left a job that was almost exclusively based in my company’s corporate office in a city setting and started a new role where I would be working 100% remotely in my suburban based home. No longer were the 3pm coffee runs to Starbucks, visiting with colleagues at their desks, or the uninterrupted, personal space of my (open space) cubicle. I’m not going to lie to you, the first couple of weeks were hard. I missed my old routine and was finding it difficult to find a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
Over time I realized that there were 5 important tips to follow that made my work-from-home routine into really, just working – finding that I was not only motivated but also connected to my coworkers and clients just as I was before.
Obviously not everyone has a dedicated office space in their home. But I’ve found that having a dedicated place for me to work every day that isn’t my bedroom, or the couch, has helped in separating home life from work life. If you don’t have a desk or office at home, try to find any quiet area (preferably with a window) where you can have your computer, water cup, coffee mug, favorite pens…whatever to set the mood. Then at the end of the workday, you can pack up and “leave the office” allowing you to mentally break from your workday.
Get up, get showered, get dressed
This is all a mental game, helping your body to know that it’s not Saturday and that it’s time to get cracking. Starting off your day as you would if you were leaving the house is the #1 most important step. I find it wakes me up and helps me to feel motivated. We’ve all seen the memes about the work-from-home mullet, you know, business up top, pjs on the bottom. If you’re going to make the effort to put on the top half, you can probably manage the bottom half as well. My rule of thumb is, if you don’t sleep in it, then you can wear it.
A lot of folks who commute will pick up breakfast on the way to the office or eat in their company cafeteria. I know I used to. If you want to go out and pick up your morning coffee, get in a run, or simply watch the news, make sure you leave yourself time in between getting out of bed and starting your workday (even the most strict shelter-in-place laws allow for these activities). On days that I get up late, and I don’t have time for a cup of coffee before my first meeting, I usually wind up being trapped at my desk without even the most basic bio-break. So, my advice, start the healthy habit of leaving ‘me time’ first thing. It will set the pace for the rest of your day.
With everyone in your household now using the Internet at the same time, all day long, it’s really important to make sure that you have your work computer connected to the WiFi signal with the strongest bandwidth in your home. This becomes extra important for video conference calls. There’s little that’s more embarrassing or stressful than getting on a call and having your video and/or voice cut out mid-sentence. If your WiFi isn’t great, try to connect directly to your router through a LAN wire. Doing that will also free up the WiFi for the other devices in your home.
Get connected…to people
Working remotely can at times be lonely or isolating. Finding ways to connect with your co-workers to maintain the comradery you had in the office will not only improve your productivity, but also your state of mind.
- When able, turn on your camera for internal calls (another reason to get dressed every day!). Seeing faces, smiles, etc. will make a huge impact.
- Take time to just say hi. Use your company’s chat tool to ping a co-worker about something non-work related. It will break up the day and be a mini-virtual coffee break.
- Schedule virtual happy hours…Why drink alone?
I hope these tips help you to settle into your new normal at home. If you’re looking for a productive distraction during the day or you need a little motivation, head over to the Relationship One blog.