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Make Work From Home Work for You

Whether by choice or by concerns related to coronavirus

With more companies closing offices and requiring workers to work from home, it occurred to me that not everyone is adept at this paradigm shift.  I never thought I could work from home, but have successfully made the transition over the past four years as I launched my consulting practice.  Here are 8 tips to help you transition if you never thought you could WFH:

  1. Create separation.  There has to be a distinction between where you work and where you live.  This doesn’t require a home office, but mentally, it helps to have a place where you work (table, desk, room, corner of a room) and where you live (watch TV, relax).  This allows you to create boundaries between work hours and home time.
  2. Boundaries.  Work from home does not require always working when you are at home.  Consider the normal expectations around your workday and try to maintain that schedule.  When you ‘wake up’ at your office, it is easy to dive right in.  Rather, I suggest you get up, go through your morning routine and show up at your ‘deck’ at the same time you would normally arrive at the office.  The bleed of being able to work can cause resentment and a feeling of being ‘always on’.
  3. Dress for work.  One upside of working from home can also be a downside.  The ability to work in your PJs can create a less professional attitude.  Shower, change your clothes and be ready for video which should be more prevalent when the full team is working remotely (see #5).
  4. Enjoy what you gain.  This is a great chance to introduce more quality time with your children or a more devoted workout routine to your morning.  Take back your commute time and invest it in you:  exercise, school volunteering (you would look great in the crossing guard vest), or time to foster more healthy eating habits.
  5. Video is key.  Working from home can feel isolating, but technology is a great tool to connect with co-workers.  Use video for calls, meetings, and connection.  Virtual coffee hours and happy hours.  Don’t hide behind Slack or email, pick up the phone for conversation and log on to video to feel less distance from the team.
  6. Accountability.  It is incumbent on everyone to be as productive as they would be in the office.  Be timely in your responses, don’t go MIA or make the team or client track you down.  On the clock means available.
  7. Productivity.  Without the distraction of water cooler chat and all of those people around you, you may find that you are incredibly productive and efficient working from home.  What can you do with the extra time you may find during the workday?  Can you tackle a new project, clean out your inbox, get to your ‘best intentions’ list?
  8. Keep connected.  If you lead teams, stay connected with team members, honoring regular 1:1s.  Reach out to team members and co-workers on projects and milestones.  Continue to collaborate.  (see #5)

This article which I wrote for new moms a few years ago applies to all as we weather this unique business challenge and make a remote workforce a productive workforce.

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