There is a high chance that the Corona virus issue will force more of us to work from home – or at least remotely from wherever you regularly work . It is not an easy transition for people who are not used to doing it often and for what it’s worth – I thought I will share what works for me and maybe some tweaks will make it work for you too .
1. Upgrade to the best internet plan you can afford for your home office
It’s the equivalent of wearing comfy shoes when you have to walk a long time . You can thank me later 🙂
Goes without saying – make sure your VPN etc work fine on remote networks before you start working from home . Know the help desk number upfront and write it down somewhere easy to see .
2. Learn to walk and talk
Sitting for long periods of time is not easy on many levels . Get yourself good headsets and start walking and talking any chance you get . I often take calls from my backyard and just pace back and forth hundreds of times .
3. Let people know when you are available and when you are not
Unlike in a traditional office – working from home will need changes for schedule . You maybe able to get work done that you might otherwise we driving . So change the hours as needed and let people know explicitly via calendar , email etc . For the first few times – when mention it on your calls .
Similarly your break times maybe different . Since you start work early for example – you may take a longer break at lunch and then catchup again at normal commute hours . As long as everyone knows your schedule , you can minimize frustration
Remember – if you don’t draw boundaries around work , work will draw boundaries around you and it may not be pleasant
4. De-clutter like a maniac
You don’t need a lot of stuff around you to be productive . Keep your computer , notebook, phone , spare pens , beverage and snacks handy . Ask hard questions if you feel tempted to put anything extra near you and your default answer should be no . Again – you can thank me later 🙂
I also try to keep the printer at home away from my sight whenever possible . That has helped reduce the number of prints I take significantly .
You don’t need to work from the same location every time either . I often work from three or four different places within my home depending on what I am working on . The less things you need to be productive , the better your chances of changing the scenery . This helps me stay focused a lot longer .
5. Have a plan B and C for alternate locations
Distractions happen and you will need to work from elsewhere from time to time . Scout a few places and keep that list handy – and make sure you know how to access wifi from those locations and any limitations like whether you can talk freely , how long you can hang out there , what $$ you need to spend there etc
6. Gain agreement with your family – and neighbors too, if needed
You are still working and they need to know that you being there in person doesn’t mean that they have your attention . Develop a short hand and be consistent . Trust me – this is a lot harder than you may think at first .
7. Video is your friend when used wisely
Impersonal calls become a lot more personal when people can see you . But if you think video is a distraction – don’t switch it on . For early morning calls where you haven’t shaved and showered , just leave the video off . Similarly , don’t feel pressured to dress up for every single meeting . Remember you don’t need to switch on the video if you don’t want to
8. Work extra hard in the beginning
New environments come with new distractions . Compensate by working a bit harder till you find your balance . Your team shouldn’t have to compensate for your distractions . Get the job done and soon everyone will have faith that work from home actually is effective and efficient
Try to do some 1:1 type meetings in person even when you are primarily working from home . As much as collaboration tools are great – real face time helps !
9. Eat right and exercise
You should be doing it anyway – but it’s one of those things that easily falls apart when you are home more than you are used to . If needed , break the exercise time to two or three .
10. Careful when you drive
Work often tends to spill over to driving time . Nothing wrong with it unless it becomes a distraction and you keep glancing at your phone to see charts while someone is talking and you are driving . Pls don’t be stupid on this front .