Employee Guide: Working from Home

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So, the boss said you can work from home—that’s the dream, right? No more supervisors breathing down your neck, coworkers interrupting your train of thought, or mandatory meetings about meetings. You are on your own! 

For now, this might seem like the ideal situation. The alarm goes off at 7 AM instead of 6:15 AM; and you don’t have to rush to walk the dog, make breakfast, shower, or get ready. Instead, you can walk downstairs at 7:58 for your 8 AM Zoom meeting, in wet hair and sweats. By 10 AM, maybe you’ve turned on the TV and moved to the couch. Maybe you’re daydreaming. Maybe you’re looking through the cupboards because you’re hungry (or just bored). Maybe you’re realizing that time passes much more slowly when Michael, Lily and Jackie aren’t there to talk to. 

Staying motivated while working from home can be a hard transition to make, especially when you’re not prepared for it. Let’s go over some tips to stay focused, motivated, happy, and engaged in your role while working remotely. After all, that promotion you’re gunning for is still on the line. 

1. Establish a morning routine & don’t change your alarms

We get it—now, you don’t need the full 2 hours to get ready, commute to work, grab your coffee, and get settled in at the office. However, changing your sleep schedule will throw off your work flow. Keep your alarm set to your normal time and start your day with something productive, like a 30-minute walk outside, listening to your favorite podcast, a better breakfast, or maybe cleaning the bathroom you’ve been meaning to tackle. Establishing a morning routine will help get you ready for the day the same way your normal commute does. You don’t need to dive into your inbox immediately when waking up—those emails will still be there in an hour—instead, allow yourself 20-30 minutes to do some self-care. Stretching, reading, journaling, or taking a walk will help you start the day ready to work. 

2. Find the right designated workspace

Working from home give you the opportunity to set up your space exactly how you like it! Skip working out of your bedroom and try re-arranging the kitchen table, or an extra bedroom if you have one, to look more like an office space. If you have kids, roommates, or a spouse who also works from home, try setting up a few different workspaces in the house and switch it up throughout the day. Don’t feel stuck to one spot. If you have to attend a virtual meeting, find a different space to take the call, as if you are going into a conference room. If it’s nice outside, try setting up your work spot on the patio so you can get some midday Vitamin D. Try different things to find out where you work best.  

3. Dress for success

The classic advice to “dress for the job you want, not the job you have,” has stood the test of time because the way you show up to work (or Zoom meetings) influences how you feel and how your colleagues perceive you. Even when you’re working from your home office, get dressed as if you are going into the office. You probably can skip the suit jacket and heels, but making an effort to ‘get ready’ will help put you in work mode (and ensure you still look presentable for meetings). Try to do your hair and makeup or shave your beard as usual. Sitting at home in your pajamas with no makeup or a full beard for days on end will undoubtedly impact your confidence.

4. Practice self-care

It can be so easy to get into a flow, only to realize you haven’t moved in 3 hours. If you’re not regularly standing, taking bathroom breaks, and hydrating, it will have a negative impact on your health. In the office, you often have natural breaks with meetings, conversations with coworkers, and announcements from leadership. Without those reminders, you’ll need to remind yourself to stand up, go for a walk, stretch, or play with your dog a little longer. You aren’t doing anything wrong if you close your computer to make yourself a lunch and disconnect for your break—it’s normal and healthy to do so. Ensure you’re covering the wellness basics when working from home by stretching often, staying hydrated, keeping a positive mindset, establishing a routine, setting up a designated workspace, staying connected to your team, and setting cutoff times for the news. 

5. Continue co-worker collaboration

Chances are, you’re wondering what everyone else is up to. Are they actually working? Or are they watching tv, baking, or hanging with their kids, roommates, or spouse? Instead of wondering, schedule a 10-minute Zoom call with someone each day just to check in, catch up, talk about your days, and find out what they’re working on and how you can help. It is easy to feel isolated when you are working from home, and staying in touch with your team can help you stay productive. This will keep you motivated and feeling connected to the company.

6. Communicate with teammates 

Leaning on your coworkers for help probably doesn’t feel as natural when you can’t see them sitting next to you. Never underestimate the power of a simple “thank you” or “good job.” A virtual pat on the back can go a long way. It can be easy to forget, but kind words will motivate and encourage your teammates when you’re apart. Think back to a time when you received an encouraging shout out, and try to pass that feeling along to someone else. It can be a direct email, a phone call, a group text, a Slack message, or a company-wide email. Either way, you’ll help someone feel needed and appreciated. We’re all in this together.

7. Be honest with yourself

If you’re feeling unmotivated, sad, lonely, or behind on the work you have, let someone know. Be honest with yourself if you are only working half the amount you usually do, or if the projects you have just aren’t getting done. Working from home may not be your forte, so lean on your team and the people around you to create a plan that will work for you. Everyone is different, so don’t be too hard on yourself, and reach out to ask for help instead.

8. Evaluate yourself, recognize and reward what works

Take a few minutes each day to measure your own performance. Assess what you did well and what you think you could have done differently. Maybe you had a really great call with a client, or maybe it didn’t feel quite right. Taking the time to reflect and jot a few notes down at the end of each day can help you be more successful the next day. 

9. Avoid temptation & stay on task

When you’re working from home and using your own network, it can be easy to get distracted by sources that weren’t a problem before. Sometimes, it’s best to remove the temptation completely. Consider deleting social media apps from your phone, putting your personal phone in another room, or turning on do not disturb settings for non-work messages. Do what you can to stay focused on work in your new, unique setting.

10. Know how you work best

Everyone works differently, so the most effective way to work from home will vary from person to person. Maybe you’re a morning person who is firing on all cylinders by 6 AM, or maybe you have a hard time opening your eyes before 10 AM. Try out working at different times throughout the day, while adhering to your company’s telecommuting policies. Try working a little earlier or a little later; try playing music in the background, or working in complete silence. Experiment until you find what works best for you. This is your chance to explore and find your ideal work environment!

11. Test your technology

If you haven’t begun working from home yet, try to plan ahead (to the best of your ability). Conduct a mock workday from home by opening your laptop and testing all of the software you normally use, and checking to make sure you have all of the necessary passwords. You may find you need to download an extension to your laptop to successfully complete your tasks, and you’ll want to do this prior to your first day working remote. Try out your phone connection and test your home wifi to be sure that your service won’t drop at a crucial moment. Work through all the technological kinks prior to your first morning working remote, and contact your I.T. department if you need help.

If you have more ideas, tips, or tricks that have worked for you while working from home, please share them with us! We would love to know what’s working, what’s not, and how we can create a community that shares best practices to support one another.

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