Managing home office for a few weeks is feasible. Working from home over the long term is tricky. Maybe some are quite enjoying working from home and have gotten a healthy routine in place. Maybe others can’t wait to get out of the house and back to the coffee machine small talk and work with their team in the flesh.
Over the past few weeks, you may have read a bunch of “top lists” on how to self-manage in this crisis. We’re jumping in on the fun! Jo, our teammate who works remote and has his office nestled within his home environment, has worked from home for a number of years, so we asked him if he had any best practices that others would benefit from. As you read through the tips he shared below, a few may ring a bell for some of you, and we’ll understand why later in this article.
1. Make a routine, and stick to it - be sure to designate chunks of time when you cannot be interrupted, and communicate this to all members of the household. By letting those who live with you know when it is appropriate to break your flow and plan in other activities (like lunch break or playtime), it will make you all feel like you've accomplished quality work each day. They can, of course, also let you know their routine, so that you are all aware of each other’s plans. Like a shared calendar at the office!
2. Make your space your space - get a plant, plush toys, your kids' drawings, anything that makes you feel comfortable in your work environment. Picture your office desk at work, and recreate a version of it at home. This will put you at ease and give you familiarity.
3. Get a to-do list going - provided you're working from home, you'll have new types of distractions, that are otherwise not present in a typical work day flow (your kids got glue in the hair, your cat robbed a bank, etc.), and thus, your normal approach to sequencing work might suffer. Write down all your to-do items so you don't skip or miss something. Tick them off once complete, and get the added bonus of seeing your progress, while maintaining momentum. Those living with you are a new extension of your team, so share your main tasks with each other.
4. Learn how to get off work - just because your work computer is at your fingertips does not mean you should be working all the time. Yes, you are literally bringing work home (something your better half rarely appreciated!), so now it’s no different. Set your office hours and stick to them. Find a warm up/cool down activity for your brain that represents a commute to and from work, whether it’s a 15-minute walk or bike ride, a musical interlude, or picking up the book you never had time to finish.
5. Get a good set of headphones - your home is filled with familiar sounds that are ever more distracting, so getting some silent time is ever more important. It also allows others in your home to concentrate on their jobs while you’re on a group conference call or blasting music.
Whether or not we will be working from home for the next few days, weeks or months, these tips are transferable between our ‘normal’ office desk and our home office desk. Their positive effect is not only limited to home office work, and you may already be doing a few of these things. For many professions, it’s not where we work that is of utmost importance. It’s how we work that affects our productivity.
Of course, for those in the hospitality industry, the location is often most important. If we cannot access our restaurant, how will we serve guests? If we need industry ovens and freezers in our kitchens, how can we be productive without them? If we need to speak with guests, maybe we shouldn’t be wearing noise-cancelling headphones!
But many in these roles still allocate a substantial portion of time to their laptops, whether it’s answering emails or planning the upcoming weeks. In the future, if we find ourselves in a similar situation, let’s take what we already know, and implement a few of the above ideas to make ourselves and our teams more efficient, wherever we may be working.