I’ve had the pleasure of running my own company for the last 6 years, and long ago made the decision to hire from anywhere – focusing on the best and brightest. This meant that our team has had plenty of experience working from home and I wanted to take a few minutes to share some of my top random ten tips (in no particular order):
- Get into a kick-start routine. If you need coffee to get moving, drink some coffee. If you prefer to shower and get dressed, do it at the time you plan for. It’s not the weekend, so you shouldn’t overuse that snooze button!
- Get some fresh air/sun. I feel that most of us are somewhat solar-powered and getting some Vitamin-D and fresh air a few times during the day can help when you’re lagging.
- Use Teams/Zoom/Blue Jeans/Slack/etc. Video conferencing isn’t the same as a hug or handshake, but it’ll help connect in ways you never thought possible. When you don’t have to drive/fly/walk from meeting to meeting, you can be much more productive as well.
- Take Breaks. All that extra productivity doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t stop and take breaks. Schedule them (use an Outlook/Google calendar, for instance), and do your best to try and avoid cancelling the breaks/lunch. Make time for friends and family as well!
- Ask for help. When you’re in a more traditional work setting, you can scan around the corner to see if someone has a widget or can help figure out something. When you’re connected by the Internet, it can seem less tolerable, but I completely disagree. Asking for helps increases your approachability and connects you to them. It also, obviously helps you get your task done faster and more intelligently.
- Be social with your colleagues. Use some framework for having non-work conversations with your colleagues, while keeping the dialogue work-appropriate. Whether that’s using a separate channel in a chat application, or using Instagram/Facebook/etc.
- Make your voice heard on meetings. WFH means a lot of meetings. If you’re one of the only non in-person folks, it can be easy to multi-task, lose focus, etc. Likewise, it can be tricky to for people in the room to ensure that remote attendees are accounted for and heard. It’s your job to speak up, announce yourself, and be a presence during the meeting.
- Communicate. Over-communicate. This comes straight from my old leadership. Julia White would tell me every 1:1 that I need to over-communicate. If you’re WFH, it’s even more important. Let folks know what you’re going to do, how you’re going to do it, what the team is up to, what issues you are having, what help you could use etc. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to write a dissertation every time you need to take a baby step, but it does mean that you may need to be prepared to remind people multiple times on important things.
- Use To-Do Lists. Besides email and my chat/video conference app, I also keep a To-Do app open at all times (although pen+paper/whiteboard are good options also). There will always be tactical things you need to do or take care of that you can’t/shouldn’t check off immediately. Take a quick note and don’t lose your focus.
- Prioritize! Sometimes it will seem that you have a hundred things to do and they are all red alert urgent. They’re not – I promise. Take a step back at least once a day and prioritize what you need to do for the time you are working. It may make you re-evaluate items with unrealistic deadlines or change the time of day you’ll work on them.
Let me know your thoughts!