I have been working successfully from various homes and temporary offices for more than five years. Here are ten simple tips that I hope are useful as most of us continue to work from home. I recognize that these tips might not work for everyone, since the types of work we all do are quite varied. Do you have other constructive suggestions or resources? Share them via #LeaderInsights or in the Comment section below!
1. Get Dressed Every Day
Yes, you could wear pajamas all day now. However, it will make you feel better to get dressed. Trust me. It will feel like you accomplished something. Heck, make your bed while you are at it and you have already accomplished two things by the time you sit down at your home office. Go on, get dressed.
2. Keep Commuting, and Take Breaks
Now that you are working from home, you no longer have a commute! Yay! However, a commute can be a good way to mentally distance oneself from home life and prepare for the workday. To mentally prepare for work, I suggest going on a quick morning walk on your own or with your pet, a short bike ride, or any small activity that tells your body you are making the transition from home to work.
When working from home, it can be easy to sit down at your desk and not get up for hours. To keep your sanity, make sure to take breaks like taking a short walk. It is OK to take a break, and it will help you keep your productivity up.
3. Create Boundaries
If you are used to commuting to an office, things are about to change! Decide where you will work inside your home and make it a dedicated work space as much as possible. Yes, this is challenging in a small house, but it is possible.
Really, all boundaries will need your attention. When will you work, when will you stop working? If you are not careful, working from home can turn into working all the time. Yes, many of us do that already, but to maintain your sanity, I highly recommend finding some boundaries that work for you.
4. Schedule Regular Check-ins
Because you won't be passing people in the hallway at the office, be sure to schedule, and keep, regular check-ins with you supervisor and those that you supervise. I suggest weekly meetings with your supervisor and those you supervise, monthly meetings with colleagues that you collaborate with often. If you are on a team working on a specific project, you may need to adjust the schedule to accommodate your project goals and timeline. This may seem like a lot, but remember, you aren’t seeing these people every day anymore so this is your opportunity to connect.
As you go about your week, make a list of all the things you would like to talk about with whomever you will be speaking with during a check-in. That way, you can be sure to share all relevant information when you have the opportunity to speak with that person.
5. Use Your Calendar, Even More
Time passes differently when you are working at home. While you may be tempted to let your email influence your daily priorities, I suggest using your calendar to schedule when you plan to do different tasks to help keep you moving forward. That way, rather than having a nebulous day ahead, you know what you need to get done and when you plan on doing it.
6. Have an 'Open Phone' Policy
When you are working remotely, you are not able to stand up from your desk and walk down the hall to ask someone a question. By committing to having an 'Open Phone' policy and communicating that to your colleagues, you open up to the potential for your colleagues to reach out, which makes connecting less of a formal task, and increases the flow of ideas.
7. Be Present During Meetings
It is easy for the mind to wander during a meeting. It is even easier for that to happen when you are participating remotely.
Commit to being fully present when you participate in an online meeting. Maybe even take notes so you can be sure you are paying attention. Do not browse the internet, do not answer email, be in the moment!
8. Work at a Table
You may be working from home longer than you expect. Might as well save your back and neck by working in as ergonomic a position as possible. Don't work from the couch or, gasp, your bed.
9. Ask Yourself Questions
Now that you are working from home, there are fewer opportunities for conversations with your colleagues, so be sure to ask yourself questions as you work. What is working? What is not working? What are your top priorities for the day? For the week?
10. Commit to Being Connected
No one knows what you are doing unless you tell them. Make sure to share your progress, your successes, and your challenges. Just because you are working from home does not mean you are in a vacuum.
This article is part of our #amexleads Insights for Uncertain Times series, featuring reflections and solutions from global leaders adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more.