I’ve been fortunate to be part of the 3 million (and counting) “work-from-home” population for six years. I love it.
The transition from commute + office routine to a work from home environment can be big, but it’s entirely manageable for you, your coworkers, and your family (even if unexpected). People are successful at working from home and employers understand you can and will be productive working from home. If working from home is new for you and you have your doubts, I promise, you can make it work and you will be productive and successful.
Here are five things you’ll need to do and / or have to get your work-from-home life going.
- Dedicated Space: Notice that I didn’t say, “an office.” That’s because especially now, in the midst of this global pandemic, many folks didn’t plan on working from home, ever, and an actual office with a door to close may not be possible. However, for every one of us, a dedicated space is possible. For me, my dedicated space is a desk in a bedroom. For my husband, his dedicated space is downstairs from the kitchen island. For you, it may be tucked away in the corner of the basement. Or, maybe it’s a small desk or table that you repurpose in a shared part of your home. Regardless of what or where it is, it should be a place where you can set up your computer, monitors if you have them, your other preferred office supplies, and be able to sit down and execute your tasks. This space should be outside of your family’s damage-path… not a spot that’s likely to get colored on by your toddler or have the high-risk of having a drink spilled on it.
- Schedule: When working from home it’s easy to get caught up in the never-ending work day. It’s easy to just “quickly log back in.” I strongly recommend that you set a schedule for your day and keep to it as much as possible. I’m an early bird and my schedule reflects that. My schedule looks something like this: 6:30am wake up, 7:30am log in to work and check email, 9am – 5pm are meetings and completing critical tasks, with a one-hour break for a workout and lunch. My day ends from 5pm – 6pm wrapping up calls and finally responding to critical email. Find a pattern that works for you and tell your family and co-workers what it is so that you can stick to it and remind folks of it when they need your time.
- Get Dressed and Ready: Don’t get me wrong… I fully recognize that a perk of working from home is non-office attire. However, that doesn’t mean no showers, no make up, no non-elastic pants. While everyone (myself included) that has worked from home is guilty of such attire, do not get in this habit. Get yourself ready. This will help to get your mind right and be ready to take on your day. Video conference? No problem. Does part of your schedule include picking your kids up from school? Great, you’ll look awesome. Need to run an errand when your day is over, no problem. You get the idea.
- Up Your Communications: Work-from-homers need to have a proactive, frequent, and flexible communication style. Since you don’t have the “watercooler conversations” anymore, you need to find new ways to build relationships, create trust, and develop rapport. You do this through all different types of communication whether it be Slack or Skype, email, turning your video on over conference calls, etc. You’ll need to be open to new ways of communicating, learning those tools well (possibly even suggesting a tool that fits a gap you notice), and even changing ways that you communicated prior when primarily in the office.
- Be Overly Prepared: This comes in support of the previous four items. When you work from home you don’t have the amenities of an office. Nobody is buying you office supplies or changing out the printer ink. You can’t lean over your desk and ask IT why something does work. However, these are typically pretty critical things in our everyday function. So, as you start your work from home journey, spend a week making a list of all the things you wish you had at your disposal, then work on either acquiring them, learning how to access them (i.e., via remote desktop, VPN, etc.), or teaching yourself about them. This will help ensure that you’re always set up and ready to go.