Sick of hearing about COVID? Yeah, me too. But unfortunately, it continues to consume our lives daily with increased cases and “doom and gloom” news articles. If you’re working from home now, chances are you will be for awhile.
I talk to a number of team members, both those who love working from home (myself included), those who want back in the office, and a few that wouldn’t mind a hybrid. In the various discussions, I’ve noted some of the common issues or areas where team members have made changes to make their jobs more enjoyable. If you’re having issues or struggling in one of these areas, hopefully there’s a little nugget that can help you!
Get Ready to Face the Day! This starts the afternoon before by creating a to-do list with critical tasks that need to be done the next day (preferably in priority order). When that new day rolls around, DON’T, and I mean DON’T make logging into work the first thing you do! Workout. Walk. Get coffee. Read. Anything but fire up your computer and start banging away at emails. Get yourself mentally prepared and log in at a relatively consistent time every day. Then, start working on your to-do list from yesterday and those new things that pop up today.
Take Breaks. If you were in the office, you’d take breaks. Bathroom, coffee, water machine, day old cookies someone left on the breakroom table, and the chatty person a few cubes down who loves to just “stop by.” You don’t have to be available 100% of the time between 9-5! Get up. Walk around. Step outside and smell the fresh air. Take a few minutes to recharge and then get back to it.
Don’t Have “Efficiency Remorse”. When working from home, you won’t have those normal distractions you would have in the office. The number of people coming by asking “Hey, you gotta minute?” greatly decreases. You also don’t have an annoying commute through rush hour traffic. Instead, you’ll find you’re able to focus on tasks. With that, you’ll get work done faster than before. Don’t feel bad about this! Sure, what took 8 hours in the office now takes 5. But, you have the opportunity to take on more responsibility and/or focus on professional development.
Make Your Work Area More Pleasant. It’s your damn house, so decorate your work area any damn way you want! Word of warning, though; don’t make your area so customized it distracts you from your work. Family pictures are nice, but one of those electronic scrolling picture frames can bring back memories and daydreaming. Before you know it, half an hour has disappeared. Same with windows overlooking areas where kids may be playing outside. Also, try to keep your area clean! I know my wife audits my work area from time to time.
Talk to Your Boss About Professional Development. There’s never a bad time to learn new skills or hone in on existing ones. In today’s world, it’s no longer cost-prohibitive to fly staff to conferences for five days. Look for online conferences and put a proposal together for your boss. New skills can help you with your job and energize you for a brighter future!
Get Clarity on What’s Expected of You. Every job has standard functions. Project management, accounting, HR, fulfillment, all have some standard descriptors. But there’s always more to it than that. What other functions are you to perform? Mentoring, auditing/double-checking others work, SLA’s on email responses to certain people or groups, or other functions not necessarily written down should be known. There may also be conflicting demands on your time, so understand what’s most important. Talk to your manager and make sure you’re both clear on what’s expected of you.
Connect with Coworkers. The “water cooler” discussions can still take place, but now they can be done virtually. If you’re a manager, take time to connect with your team members individually and as a group. Don’t make it all work-talk. Find out what’s going on in people’s lives. Sure, we may not be able to go everywhere we want, but life is still happening. Also, ping your team members or work friends once and awhile. It’s a great way to feel connection!
Interruptions Happen, Especially on Calls/Video Meetings. Dog barks? Bummer. Kids bust in during a zoom meeting and may or may not have clothes on? Yeah, that happens. Forget to unmute? I hear it 10 times a day. Understand we all get interruptions throughout the day. I thought it was hard having kids home doing school work, only to find have kids home with no school work waaaayyyyy harder!
That said, I have two boys who play Fortnite loudly in the living room adjacent to my office. They know if the office door is closed all the way, dad’s on a call. If they do get loud, if I pound on a certain spot on the wall the TV shakes. You can develop your own method, but make it well known throughout the house!
Switch Off! I struggle with this as do many others. When the end of the day comes, switch off! If you hear the email *ding* and go to check it real quick, an hour can pass by quickly before you get up again. There’s life outside your office. Go enjoy it!
If you’re a Work from Home Warrior, and will be for awhile, I’m hoping these recommendations help you love, or at least like, your job again. Good luck!!