When our team first began the “work from home” schedule, we believed it would be two, maybe three weeks. We were wrong. Several months later and we are still operating from our home offices and we are not alone. Corporations across the country have implemented a “work from home” mandate, some even looking to 2021 before bringing employees back into an office environment.
The COVID-19 pandemic has altered our “normal” lives on so many levels, business is now conducted in a manner that is drastically different. Personally, I am thrilled with how our team adjusted. We are as productive as ever and we have found a rhythm to what many refer to as a “new normal.” Throughout the past several months, here is what we have witnessed. For some this opportunity to work in their own space is a dream come true, for others it’s truly challenging. It’s especially difficult for those with children at home. Fortunately, there is both a science and an art to remaining productive while working from home. There is a huge body of research regarding productivity, but the trick is to experiment and find what works best for you.
First and foremost, it’s important to have a dedicated space for work that you can use each day. In a perfect world this would be a home office, or a table in a spare bedroom away from any distraction or noise. This of course, allows for greater focus but, it also helps set the stage for when it’s time to work. When you leave your work space, then it’s time for life.
Set a schedule. Work and home life have the potential to blur together into an endless quasi workday. Set a clear end to the work day. This helps to create a clear separation between work and life. Make them separate. If you think of something work related jot it down on a notepad for the next work period and go back to your downtime. During your workday, set regular short breaks. There are many theories about how often or how long these breaks should be, but find what works best for you. Work for an hour, then take a ten minute break. If you have pets or kids, these regular breaks are a great time to check in.
Identify your own productivity rhythms. If you are a morning person, then schedule your heavy work for the AM, and then check your emails and return calls after lunch. Part of working from home productively is holding yourself accountable. Set daily and weekly goals to keep yourself on track. Meet virtually with your boss once a week to check in, and more frequently with other coworkers. Working from home can be lonely and isolating for some. A video chat is an excellent way to stay connected and on the same page. Use these meetings to go over work, set new goals, and add a human element to your work day.
In all honesty, the most difficult part has been missing the casual interactions with clients, enjoying conversation over breakfast or lunch. Now, we meet virtually via Zoom. It works, but I certainly look forward to the day when we can meet again in person and share a cup of coffee! Stay well.