In the current climate, most businesses are accelerating their remote and digital working habits. Many New Zealanders have found themselves needing suddenly to adapt to working from home, learning new tools and using old tools in new ways – without someone right there for help. If you have haven’t ever worked in a remote capacity, this can be daunting to say the least. This is not something that comes naturally to everyone! Perhaps you have managed to bring home everything you need from your office, you have remote access to important files, and you have ways to connect with your team now that you aren’t all together. Even once you have managed all of that, for many of us still there is a long road ahead to making the best of working from home.
Here is our guide to doing your best work from home:
Wake up for the day as if you were going into the office. So, if you typically have an alarm, keep your alarm. If you usually have a long commute, then sure set your alarm a little later. If you normally exercise, keep that good habit going. You want to try to recreate your typical weekly routine and environment at home. This means waking up in time to start working when you usually would.
I know it may seem like a great idea to work in your pyjamas all day, but most people will work a lot better if they get dressed into work clothes, even if you wear a dressed down version of what you usually would.
Putting on ‘work clothes’ will also help create a sense of separation between on and off hours at home, helping you to relax and enjoy your leisure time while you have work you could be doing in the next room.
Maintain a routine and schedule
Wake up, have a shower, get dressed and have your breakfast, tea, or coffee. Maintain a routine, with as close to your normal schedule as possible.
Start working close to your normal start time, have the same breaks, and finish … you guessed it, when you usually would.
It may seem easy to start later, and have an extra-long break here and there, but then you will be left with a lot unfinished at the end of the day, or could fall into the trap of being ‘at work’ all day, as your 8:30 am to 5:00 pm shift becomes a 9:00 am to 7:30 pm.
Set up a work zone
Set up a space which is your dedicated work zone. The most important thing here is not to work from bed. If you have access to a desk, then great, use it. Otherwise, try a table, the kitchen bench. You can always clear your work at the end of each day if you are spreading too far.
This is another way to separate your work-life from your home-life. It will help you be more productive when you are working, and it will allow you to more properly relax when you aren’t.
Have lunch outside; change your scenery
Try not to have lunch with your work. This is good advice regardless of whether you are working from home or not. It will allow you to disengage more, and actually have a break. You will be able to return from lunch refreshed and you will enjoy a more productive afternoon.
If you can’t have lunch outside, take 15 minutes to go for a walk. Take some time to leave the house and enjoy some fresh air every day.
Be your own boss
Hold yourself accountable. This is difficult because it requires a good amount of self-awareness. Are you working well, or are you spending a lot of time distracted? Whats working well and whats not? Where can you help others?
Time-management doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Many people really need to work at it. If you are already following a self-assigned task list, great; if you aren’t, maybe consider it. There are a lot of apps that make this easy and fun (Todoist is my to-do list of choice), or pen and paper of course work well.
It will probably take a few days to figure out how to work really well from home, but as long as you are honest with yourself, you will be in the best place to move forward.
One of the primary benefits of an office environment is the ease with which you can collaborate with other people. If you work in small teams, or just have someone you regularly bounce ideas off; however it is that you collaborate, doing so from home is likely to be much more difficult. But its become critical you keep find ways to do this.
It is so important to keep those channels of communication open. Email is good, a phone call is great, and a video meeting which allows for screen sharing is better again. However, the way you continue to collaborate is less important than making sure you actually do; updating your team and working with your collaborators shouldn’t stop just because you are no longer in the same room.
Especially over the coming days, as you’re adapting to this new working environment, there will be challenges or questions. Reach out to a colleague or friend you think may be able to help – that 2 minute phone call could save you half an hour and a lot of frustration.
In an ideal world, you could follow all or most of the above; you could work your normal hours, enjoy your lunch outside with the sunshine, and experience minimal distractions. However, for a whole score of reasons this can’t always be the case (I haven’t forgotten about all of you parents out there), and a few people may actually do their best work from bed in their pyjamas!
The most important thing to do is to take the time to figure out how to make it work. If that means getting slightly less done for a day or two as your navigate the quirks of remote working, then that is okay. Think of it as an investment which will be repaid again and again for the rest of your working from home tenure.
How are you finding the change to remote working? Are you struggling or thriving? We want to hear from you!