The global spread of the COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, has changed our lives as we know it. It has changed the way we socialize, the way we shop, the way we learn, and the way we work. The world of work is going virtual in a matter of days to prevent the spread of the virus and decrease the number of new cases. Companies are transitioning to telework and employees are about to experience the freedom and flexibility of working from home. But with great freedom comes great responsibility.
Prior to starting this journey of entrepreneurship, I worked in a corporate role that allowed telework flexibility a few dates a week. It was an added benefit to the role and I was able to get away from office distractions when I needed to focus. If I had a full day of conference calls, I could take the calls from the comfort of my home. Teleworking was easy peasy. Then, I transitioned to entrepreneurship. The work from home benefit became an everyday reality. To be honest the reality looked like a mixture of Groundhog Day, plus catch up on chores day, with a sprinkle of sitting for hours on end staring at my computer and not getting up. I quickly realized I needed to implement new working practices and establish discipline in order to get tasks accomplished. Here are my top 4 best practices I’ve learned and implemented along the way.
1. Create a Schedule (to include Start and End times). This is the most important thing you can do. Work can easily spill into an all-day AND all-night affair if you let it (Trust Me). Setting boundaries helps your mind operate in work mode when it’s time to work and home mode when it's time to disconnect. This differentiation will help when it comes to balancing your work and personal life. Think of yourself as clocking in at your designated start time. Even if you’re running behind schedule, tell yourself you’re running late. You will be to hold yourself accountable to having structure at home. Also, it’s equally important to have an end time. Even when working from home, tell yourself that you’re working late if you choose to work past your end time. Monitor how frequently you work late. Establish boundaries for "work late" days so that it doesn't become an everyday occurrence.
2. Get up and Get dressed- Do not work in your pajamas. I said what I said. Again, it’s all about creating the mindset that you’re going to work (mind you, I’m not putting on makeup and a suit, but I will put on different clothes.... even if it’s still sweatpants). If you remain in your pajamas, subconsciously your mind thinks you’re in relaxed bedtime mode. You won’t have the same rigor or intensity as if you changed out of your pajamas.
3. Eliminate Distractions. This is an easy one to fall victim to when working from home. The laundry is right there and it needs some attention. The dishes in the sink need to be washed. The television series you’ve been wanting to catch up on is in queue. You can watch the show while you work. Right? Wrong! You’re not as productive in completing tasks when you’re trying to complete chores or watch television and work. Why? Because you’re not as focused. The task that could’ve taken 30 minutes to complete is now taking an hour because your brain is half completing the task and half thinking about other things. As a result, you’re spending more days working late because your tasks are taking longer to complete (Trust Me). So, turn off the tv and eliminate the other distractions and get to work. Remember you’re still on the clock.
4. Take Scheduled Breaks. One of the most important practices to incorporate into your day is to schedule breaks. A lunch break and two 15-minute breaks are typically the standard for full-time US employees. Taking a brief 15-minute break can help you reset if you’re stressed about a particular issue to give you clarity and a fresh perspective. It can boost your productivity and you’ll be in a better mood after doing it. Get up and take a walk to get your blood circulating. Read a brief devotional to recharge your spirit. What will you do in your 15-minute break?
BONUS- Socialize with Colleagues. When you’re in the office, you have the luxury of stopping by someone’s desk or going to the break room as a way of socializing with colleagues. This socialization builds team camaraderie. You can easily work in isolation and lose that team rapport if you’re not intentional about connecting with your colleagues. Find times during the week to touch base with your teammates and other important work colleagues. You can use your company's messaging system, video conference, or even the old school picking up the phone to chat. The goal is to continue to build your team relationships and implement the feeling of isolation, even when you’re physically distant.
These are a few of the best practices I’ve learned along the way. Now, it’s up to you to determine what will work for you. Take this list and incorporate a few of your own tips and tricks for mastering working from home. I foresee teleworking becoming the new norm in most companies (if not every day, a few days a week). It is up to you to stay productive, connected, and sane!
About the Author: Michelle Glover, CEO of Journey Unlimited, is a talented human resource professional with over 15 years of experience in leadership, coaching, change management, and HR strategy. Known for her creativity and strategic thinking, Michelle knows how to create innovative strategies to help individuals and companies achieve their goals. She has devised her own coaching model dubbed “Purpose to Results” coaching. This strategy views a client holistically. She doesn't focus exclusively on goals and creating career plans. Instead, she pays attention to a client’s spiritual, physical, and general mental health to create a solution for the client's overall well-being.
“Our goal is to help you achieve yours!”-Journey Unlimited