I first want to start out by saying I was really excited to write about this topic when I first decided to start my blog. As someone who currently works remotely from home, and has for several years and for several companies, I was eager to share my own personal experience and lessons learned. I often get asked what it’s like to be a remote employee working in another state with colleagues across the globe. NEVER did I think this post would be written at a time when the world is experiencing a global crisis and individuals who have never worked from home are now being forced into this new work environment.
Right now, the world as we know it is having to completely change everything from our daily routines to the way we report to work. Change, especially when unexpected, can be difficult. As someone who works remotely 100% of the time, I’m fairly used to it. However, for someone who thrives off the energy of an office and face-to-face interaction, working from home can be culture shock. Isolation sets in quick; motivation can be a struggle, and your morale may dip from the world’s current state of uncertainty.
When I decided to start this blog, I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t just write for the sake of writing. My goal has always been to write on topics that provide value to my readers or help make their lives a little easier. Today my hope is to help give some guidance to those trying to adjust to their new way of working.
Below, I’m sharing 4 tips I’ve learned from my own personal experience that can help you successfully work from home.
1. Find Your Focus
Truthfully the only way to do your job and do it well from home is to find a place where you can focus. When I first started working from home, I would sit at my dining room table. In theory it seemed great, but I swiftly learned it was not. Being that I was so close to the kitchen, I always wanted a snack. Since the dogs could see and hear who was out front, they would bark through my important conference calls. Having the TV on for some “background noise” did nothing but keep my eyes wandering towards the screen. It was a MESS.
Quickly I decided I needed a new spot, so I started working from the guest room where there was no outside noise, no TV, and no nearby snacks to tempt me. My advice is to take the morning to test out your new work space. If you find yourself completely distracted, it’s time to relocate to a new spot in your home. Which leads me to my next tip…
2. Don’t Distract
One day your house was just your home and now you’re expected to treat it as your office. It can be a hard notion to overcome initially.
To successfully work from home, it’s important to treat your work with just as much seriousness and professionalism as you would if you were in the office. Set your daily list of tasks and stick to it. The most important tip I can give you is to set boundaries between your work tasks and home tasks. It might feel very convenient to catch up on some things around the house, but we all know you’ll end up 3 loads of laundry deep and absolutely no work accomplished.
3. Business Hours
Depending on your job, working remotely can sometimes mean working more hours than the standard office position – but please take that with a grain of salt. Example, I work on Eastern Standard Time, however I have colleagues in Australia and the UK that I sometimes need to meet with earlier in the morning or later in the evening. While this is the case for my industry, position, and schedule, I still do set business hours.
My tip here is to follow the same business hours you would in your office. It’s a schedule you have already established and adjusted to, so if anything, it should be the easiest part of your transition! Giving yourself that structure will keep you on track and focused despite the change of location.
4. Communication is Key
My last and most important tip is ALL about communication. There are 2 reasons why this is the most crucial tip to follow:
#1: Working from home means you need to build trust with your employer.
For many companies, working from home is a privilege and one not easily granted. Offices exist for many reasons, but one of them is so employers, managers, directors, etc. can ensure that they know their team members are being productive. When you take the employee out of the office, the employer must feel 100% confident that the work will still get done. I knew that going into each of my remote positions which is why I make sure to always build that trust through communication.
So, what does that mean? It means being present and being available during your business hours. Make sure you are logged into your messaging app, respond promptly to emails, be ready to answer if they call, send along a weekly list of goals, reach out for help. Overall, make sure they know you are there.
#2: Communication channels are the ONLY way to connect with your team.
When you work in an office it’s very easy to just walk over to Sally’s desk and ask her for help. When you put distance between team members, communication channels such as messaging, email and phone calls are all you’ve got!
My #1 channel to communicate is phone/video call because it ensures we understand each other. If you must communicate via email or messaging, be specific. Be so specific and clear its almost overkill. I cannot tell you how many times messages have been misinterpreted because they are too vague.
Lastly, please know you are not alone. All of our lives have been changed in some way in the midst of this terrible virus. Don't be afraid to reach out to your employer for help and guidance. My boss has been an excellent source of knowledge, encouragement and motivation - especially during hard times - and I would truly be lost without her! We're all in this together.
Stay healthy and safe.