Regardless of your position, experience, or industry, working remotely can be challenging and stressful. It’s critical to strike the right balance of working at home and living at home, so we’re able to work together productively and effectively, while minimizing as much stress and confusion as possible.
To be the most productive at home, it’s all in the set up. Here are a few key ways to get your work from home arrangement set up to help you in being productive, balancing work and home priorities, and alleviating feelings of isolation.
Set up communication processes
This set up might be the most critical to get right for effectively working with others remotely. With phone calls, text messaging, emails, instant messaging, etc. there are a lot of ways to get your lines crossed. Create communication flows, norms, and expectations with your direct supervisor, peers, and direct reports that work for a variety of situations. Because people can’t just swing by your desk or catch you in passing, you’ll have to adjust the way you interact with each other, balance and rebalance communication flows, and find times in your day where you’re connecting with others and replying to emails. It might take a few rounds of adjustments to get right, but more communication and built-in processes can reduce confusion, minimize duplication of work, and ensure you’re connecting in meaningful and effective ways.
Set up a space
Designate a specific room or area to work from to create a mental and physical boundary between working and living. Being in the right space can help you be in the right frame of mind for being productive. Set it up ergonomically as best as you can to support your physical health and wellbeing.
Set up your tech
Ensure you have all the tech and equipment you need—work with your people managers, IT departments, or HR managers to ensure you have all your environmental needs met. Do you have (or need) a computer or laptop? External keyboard and mouse? A second display screen? Make it as close as possible to the in-office working environment you would create for yourself.
Set up a schedule (and stick to it!)
Get ready as if you were physically commuting to work—shower, get dressed, do your hair, eat breakfast, and then get to work.
Set timers and plan out your day—not just your meetings—on your calendar to ensure you’re managing your work time and taking enough breaks; take a bio-break, take a lunch break, make time to get up and take a lap around the house as if you were in the office.
Set up video capability
Embrace and prioritize virtual face to face calls. Not only will it help to break up some of the isolation and help to clarify any work-from-home communication confusion, it will help establish and foster strong relationships. We all know we don’t like the video feature, but if we do it together, who cares?!? Plus, just think of all the pets you’ll get to meet!
Set up boundaries
Create an end-of-day routine and stick to your “normal” work hours as much as possible. When you never actually “leave for the day,” it can be easy to just keep going.
Turn off the computer. Step away. Burnout is real.
It’s hard to draw a sharp distinction between work and home when you work at home—but committing to do work things during work times and home things during home times will help you maintain boundaries.
Whether by choice or by circumstance, remote work is on the rise and here to stay. The skills and work ethic required to effectively work remotely, like time management, discipline, organization, and self-direction, will always be valuable given the ever-changing landscape of the work and professional worlds. More and more companies are helping to better support remote employees, but it’s incumbent on individual employees to do what they can, as well, to be their most productive and best work selves.
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