This article was written by Brita Quella, an Account Manager here at Gemba Academy.
So, you have a laptop, a phone, pens, paper, what else do you need? Your meetings are all now going to be online. Your travel, conferences and interactions may all have been canceled or postponed. Your conversations will now require a written email, a purposeful phone call, or a conference call.
Your emails are flowing in, but you’re not able to maintain your “normal”. It’s time for a new “normal” and you don’t know for how long. If you have children, they’re home all day now too… at least for a while.
Home life, school life, and work life just merged – more like collided!
Working from home with the additional stresses can be challenging. Here’s some things I learned when I first had the option to work from home and then some adjustments given the newest changes all around us.
1. Needed equipment or supplies
- So maybe you don’t have the office phone you have/had at the office, but you may need to be on conference calls through your computer or mobile phone. Purchase a good headset, ear buds, or headphones that block out surrounding noise.
- Set up a monitor if don’t already have one. This keeps you from hunching over your laptop. You can use your laptops keyboard and track pad or purchase external ones.
- Think about your ergonomics. Knowing this may be temporary, don’t over-think or over-spend on this.
- You likely won’t need all the office equipment you have at your disposal at an office. A printer, probably not worth the expense. Think through your requirements and how you could change habits if necessary.
- I like to have light music playing too, as to add to the environment.
2. Find a place in your house that is somewhat away from the main activities
- Don’t set up in front of the TV!
- Have everything you need in this space.
- If you can, keep this area free of other “projects”, (ie. laundry, crafts, bills, etc.)
- If you have video calls, pick a place where the background is fairly plain. Possibly a corner or somewhere that the camera won’t catch others living their at home life too.
- A little secret; I recently moved to a section of my closet. It’s definitely away from the main activities in my household and proves to have everything I need to be successful. The background is free and clear too. You’d never really know.
3. Keep a schedule
- This can look drastically different from one person to the next.
- I like to set an alarm to wake in the morning, just as I would if children had to be to school and I had an office to get to. Don’t slip into vacation mode. Sleeping in and staying up late is not ideal for everyone especially if you have people counting on you during normal business hours.
- Work in some kind of physical activity. I like to do this first thing in the morning. This can be a whole other topic to explore. Video workouts online, walks/runs, and simple calisthenics can be done for this time. I schedule an hour and sometimes it’s less, sometimes it’s more. Either way don’t settle for moving from your office chair to your recliner every day. That’s not good for anyone.
- Plan lunch at roughly the same time each day. Mark off your calendar if necessary. Yes, I’ve forgotten to eat before. Late afternoon meetings can be brutal if you didn’t eat.
- Take small breaks between work activities to take a look around and walk away from your computer screen. You can do this while on the phone if that’s all your schedule allows that day.
- Maintain an end of workday time. If you were always the last to leave the office, you may tend to overwork at home. It’s easy to say, “Just one more thing” especially if it’s not obvious that everyone else is done working for the day.
- Let your family in on your schedule. Tell them when you can’t be disturbed and for how long if it’s a scheduled meeting. Setting a rough time for breakfast, lunch and dinner proves helpful. Our family eats dinner together, but breakfast and lunch they are on their own to find the food provided. I should note that my children are older – not babies or toddlers.
4. Establish boundaries
- I let my family know that I have work to do and that if they need me, they don’t enter the room with their voice. Sounds silly, but it can be VERY disturbing to your train of thought if it’s consistently interrupted.
- Instead of calling for me, they put their hand on my shoulder and don’t start their request until I look at them.
- Sometimes they even text me even though we are in the same house.
- Important to note, we discussed what an emergency is and is NOT. Again, I’m not dealing with little children anymore. That requires a bit more of your involvement.
- Plan time to be together with your family. They need you too. This may be ever changing but can’t consume your workday.
Working from home is a huge benefit given the current health situation and beyond. The true trick is separating it from vacation or weekend time. With that said, be sure to take vacations and weekend time off when you can. Don’t work every day of every week or every waking hour of the day. You won’t last long if you do. On the flip side, do make work a priority when required. You have been trusted be a valuable team member in a flexible environment.