For most of us, working from home is a new experience and we’re doing some “OTJ” on-the-job-training. I remembered my friend and colleague, Bryan Parsons, has worked mostly from home for the past 4 years.
I jumped at the opportunity to learn what steps I could take to bolster my productivity. It’s not too late to integrate some of these steps from his Home Warrior Code into your routine. If you’re already doing some of this stuff, great, keep going, if you haven’t, no worries, now is a great time to start.
Bryan reports he’s seen results in his motivation, output and overall level of satisfaction with work. I think he’s on to something. Since I found his guidance useful, I’m sharing Bryan’s Home Warrior Code– it’s already led me to make some changes in my daily routine.
KEEP THE ROUTINE
1.GET UP- GET DRESSED- DO YOUR HAIR (albeit it you may need a new style given it’s length!), put on cologne, make-up, etc. Wearing pajamas might be novel, but its not putting you in the right mindset.
2. BOOKEND YOUR DAY– how do you know when your work day begins and when it ends? Don’t let it morph together unconsciously. You might be working and living in the same place, but they aren’t the same thing.
3.SHOW UP PROFESSIONALLY: yes that means on video and satisfying the human condition to connect- get your video shot established- background, lighting , including your Zoom background—tie it into your personal brand and other ways you “show up”.
4. FOOD AND FUEL: Have it predetermined and ready to go. Much like you did when you went to the office, you either brought it with you (predetermined) or you spent a few minutes in line getting take-out. The activity should be the same. You don’t have time to stand in the refrigerator for 10 minutes asking yourself “what should I eat?”. But you must make time to break, eat, and refuel.
5. ”I’M NOT @HOME” For those with children or other dependents at home and lucky enough to have a spouse, roommate, etc. divide the day—figure out who is “on call” each hour of the day—this is who attends when the child/dependent needs help. When you’re not “on call” put your headphones on—and crank to whatever works for you- rock, white noise, an audio book. The goal is to block out your surroundings. If you do hear commotion, do not engage—you’re not at home- you’re at work.
6. DISHES AND LAUNDRY aren’t work. Have a repository for all the “To-Dos” you come up with as you move around your house- laundry, fixing the grout, calling the plumber about the clogged toilet. Those “little things” eat up valuable work day time. Put a list on your desk(top), phone, or in your pocket. See it-jot it-forget it.
7. CHECKING IN-setup time to have coffee dates (or, appropriate timed adult beverages) with your colleagues- this is a good time to check in on each other’s mental health and wellbeing.
8. DOWN TO BUSINESS– The beginning of every meeting needs not be the wellbeing and mental health time- it’s more critical than ever to focus on your priorities- whether they’re the “same” or if they’re drastically different as a result of our new norm.
9. LOOK AROUND- Take advantage of your surroundings- thinking, brainstorming, designing, project planning, writing communications—solo work- can be done outside—on your deck, in the garden; If you have work which doesn’t require video, go for a walking meeting. Praise spring! Vitamin D is your friend. Wear sunscreen!
10. TIME ZONES– Always a challenge, but now they have a new dimension– no people don’t have to commute, but homes now double as workspaces- so there are different limitations on on your coworkers time (just like yours)—be firm but flexible—in what you give, and what you ask others to.
11. FOREVER– Unless your job is to manage the “return to office” planning, forget about it. Our old way of working and engaging isn’t coming back. As we emerge from the current regime, we will be in a new paradigm – no one knows what that is yet. The best thing you can do is to influence what is in your control- focus on performance- where can you add the most value to your organization’s critical success metrics. Do those.
Let the professionals worry about when you’re going back to your cube. They’ll let you know.