For many people, working from home is a normal part of their work style. You love the flexibility and convenience, your manager knows how to lead and manage people they can’t see in person, and your team understands how to collaborate and innovate remotely.
But many others have never made it a priority – until now. The COVID-19 crisis is forcing many teams to adopt working from home for the first time – and it’s not easy.
- You might feel lonely and isolated when working from home.
- You might get easily distracted and interrupted without the structure of the office environment.
- You need new emotional intelligence skills to cooperate and collaborate online.
- You build trust differently in a remote team.
If you’re working from home for the first time, you need these three things:
- The Right Place: Creating the right environment at home
- The Right Time: Maximising productivity in a home environment
- The Right Team: Fostering collaboration with the rest of your team
First, create the right environment.
We’re all different, so you have to find the right environment that works for you. But take the time to make it work, because it will now be a big part of your working day.
Here are seven simple tips for getting started.
1. Find your space.
Find the space at home that works best for you. It might be temporary or private (the dining room table vs a study), private or public, natural light or not, and so on. You might choose to work from different places during the day, but choose one dedicated space that’s your “primary” location in the house. And don’t make it a bed or couch – that’s bad for your posture.
2. Stick to your routine.
Match your office work day as closely as possible: when you start, when you take breaks, when you finish for the day, and so on. That gives you a known routine to follow, and helps your manager and other team members contact you.
When you get more experienced at working from home, you’ll love its flexibility and freedom. But if you’re just starting out, stick to a routine so you can focus on other things (like work!) instead.
3. Switch on.
It’s easy to be distracted by TV, laundry, pets, kids, and everything else you leave behind when you go to the office. Be aware you might be tempted by them, and resist the temptation! One way to do this is to schedule regular breaks where you give yourself permission to do these other things. But when you’re working, work!
4. Switch off.
When you walk out of the office at the end of the day, that physical action gives you a clear break from work. When you’re working from home, the lines between your work life and your personal life are blurred. Don’t sit at the table working on your laptop while the rest of the family is eating dinner. At the end of your working day, switch off, pack up, and switch into personal mode.
5. Replace your commute.
You might love the idea of giving up that daily commute. But it has one benefit: It gives you mental space between home and work. In the morning, it gets you into “work mode”, and in the evening it gives you time to relax and get into “home mode”.
When working from home, find a way to make the same mental switch. In the morning, it might be enough to just move from the breakfast table to your study. In the evening, it might be walking into the garden and relaxing for ten minutes before walking back in.
6. Stay healthy.
When you’re at home, it’s tempting to fall into unhealthy habits, such as snacking between meals, not exercising, constantly checking social media, and working long hours. These are easy traps to fall into, so be aware of them.
Instead of trying desperately to resist temptation, create healthy habits instead: Prepare healthy snacks, go for a walk in your breaks, have a water bottle by your side, do something better on your phone before you check social media, and so on.
7. Start strong.
Finally, if you’re going to be a professional working from home – start from day one! Don’t try to “ease into it” by being slow, slack, and slovenly the first couple of days. Start the way you intend to continue, and stay strong!
What will YOUR environment look like?
We all know the airline safety announcement where they say, “Make sure you fix your own oxygen mask first before assisting others”. The same applies to working from home. You need to be comfortable first, and then you can start thinking about your responsibilities to your manager and your team.
ONLINE WORKSHOP: Working From Home – How to Be Productive and Stay Sane
I’m running an online presentation next week, where I’ll show you how to manage your energy, stay productive, and continue to collaborate with the rest of your team.
In this interactive 90-minute presentation, I’ll give you simple, practical, and powerful tips in three areas:
- The Right Place: Creating the right environment for working from home
- The Right Time: How to be productive and effective in an unfamiliar environment
- The Right Team: How to engage and collaborate with the rest of your team
I’m delivering this presentation for teams in my Disruption By Design leadership program. If you’re not in the program but would like to attend, you can register for it yourself here.
DATE: Thursday 26th March
Everybody who registers also gets access to the recording. So, even if you can’t attend the presentation live, you’ll still have access to the full recording later.