Updated: Oct 13, 2020
With everyone’s world being significantly flipped upside down over the past few weeks, many of us will be transitioning to working remotely. This change has come unexpectedly and been implemented immediately. How we decide to approach this change can affect your own well-being as well as your coworkers and family members, so it’s important to start off on the right foot! Below are 5 tips to successfully work from home:
1. Avoid Miscommunication
Be extremely straight forward with all messaging systems and offer to get on the phone if someone needs further explanation to avoid miscommunications. Messages sent through written word have a tendency to be taken out of context and it’s important to avoid this when we can. Another quick tip that can help with this is to decide which communication style allows you to be the most productive and communicate that with your team and managers. This could include email, texting, instant messages, phone calls, or video chats, such as Zoom or Skype. Learning which communication style your coworkers prefer is also very helpful so you can respect their boundaries as well. The DISC is a great tool to learn and understand your own and your coworker’s work and personal styles. If you would like to learn more about the DISC, we have several articles about the DISC such as this one. If you are interested in taking a free DISC Assessment to learn about your own style, please click the above link to be connected to one of our consultants.
2. Take Advantage of Messaging Apps
If your organization uses messaging apps such as Slack or another instant messaging app, take advantage of this to check in with your coworkers. These apps are helpful to compensate for the social aspects that you would normally be getting in the office. It’s important to talk and interact with your coworkers on a social basis and not only talk about work 100% of the time. Especially in these tough times, it’s crucial to check in with your coworkers!
3. Consider your Workspace
If you don’t have a home office- get creative! Seek natural light, flat desk space, some good headphones, and somewhere that is preferably in a quieter area of your house. If you have a spouse and/or kids, it’s important that you announce to your family or roommates that this will be your new work area and they should try not to disturb you or make excessive noise while you are in your new “home office”. Be sure to make use of your mute button if your surroundings do get noisy to avoid disrupting a phone call or meeting. Going along with this, it is critical to make sure you get out of your pajamas in the morning. If you are used to getting dressed and going to the office every day, it can seem tempting to stay in your PJs all day since you will now be working from home. However, staying in the routine of getting ready will help you keep your normal routine of working and make you feel more productive. Another tip is to be conscious of what is behind your workspace. This is what will show up if you participate in video chats, so try to keep it simple, as backgrounds can be distracting to other people during video meetings.
4. Set Boundaries
Create boundaries between work and life. This is extremely important in order to avoid burnout and it also allows you to stay focused on work during your work hours and stay off of work when you are trying to have family time. In an upcoming article, we will discuss the important role that boundaries play in helping us to avoid unnecessary pressure to continue to work during nonwork hours.
5. Create a Realistic Routine
Set realistic expectations and routines for yourself, but allow for disruptions so you don’t disappoint yourself if you do not meet a specific goal- everyone is trying to adjust right now, so not everything will go exactly according to plan. One suggestion is to schedule appointments on your calendar for your lunch break or set reminders to stand up. This way, it is already planned into your day and you won’t schedule a meeting on top of it. Getting up and walking around can help you to stay focused. If you are used to working in an office, you might not realize how many small breaks we often take (getting coffee, walking to get water, etc.) and throughout the day these little breaks actually help us to stay focused on our work. Try to remind yourself to take these breaks while at home as well.
Work on being flexible and patient with each other. Some people are homeschooling their kids, some have pets running behind them, some people don’t have a home office or they are now sharing one with their spouse. We have to be patient while we are getting used to this new normal. Make sure you are taking care of yourself and also making the effort to check in with your coworkers and friends during these times of uncertainty. Although change can be difficult, it also comes with new opportunities for growth and creativity, so take advantage of that.
If you are now responsible for managing a virtual team, keep an eye out for an upcoming article dedicated to providing tips for how to be successful in doing so.
Apex has developed free downloadable tools to provide tips and best practices for successfully working from home. Click here to access them.