Best Practices For a Winning Work-at-Home Strategy
April 1, 2020
At this writing, we are still adjusting to the “new normal” created by COVID-19. With many of us under lockdown orders to avoid the spread of the illness, it would appear that we will be working from home for a while to come.
It’s one thing to flip open a laptop on the kitchen table — but quite another to establish a solid base of operation from which to be productive and connected to our businesses.
Some good news: Many people prior to this crisis had already sampled the work-from-home trend — in a recent state of work-study, 30 percent of U.S. professionals indicated they have a permanent home-based operation, and more than half of U.S. workers spend at least one day in the home office.
For the rest of us, we may be still trying to make heads or tails of this familiarly unfamiliar environment. So how can you best optimize your home office, with a minimum of disruption for your clients (and your family and pets, too), and without protracted downtime? Here are some tips we have compiled from our own experiences with remote work:
- Signal of Strength: Your primary focus should be to make sure you have access to a strong cell phone signal and Internet connection, as well as access to your company’s file-sharing process. This could take the form of a VPN, or a simple folder sharing solution like Dropbox. If you discover that any of these items are at issue, you should take measures to fix them first. Cell phone and internet providers often have solutions to help boost signals when their services are less than optimal in a particular geography.
- Your Corner Office: When choosing the actual working location, consider finding a spot that is as similar as possible to what you have in your corporate office. When space is at a premium, this could simply be an “off-limits” corner of your kitchen table or dining room. Most importantly, try to locate your workspace away from a TV — and definitely not in bed.
- Map Out Your Day: For some, it will take a disciplined approach to stay focused on work. Since you likely have a default working routine when in the office, now is the time to stick to it. Make a daily schedule that includes planned breaks, so you can stay on track while resisting the urge to have several unplanned visits to the kitchen each hour. And communicate this schedule to the other residents in your home — both two and four-legged — so they can respect your need to be productive.
- Space Invaders: Though your home is your place of comfort and solace, during working hours, it has to also be a place for business to get done. And though it may be tempting to binge-watch those episodes of ‘Peaky Blinders’ that you missed, you need to insulate your home working environment from focus-busting activities. And again, kids, pets, and spouses may assume that because you are home, you are “home” — politely remind them of the schedule you shared in step No. 3.
- Virtual Visits Like a Rockstar: Hopefully, your company has given you a license to use a teleconferencing service like Zoom or GoToMeeting (if not, there are several free options as well). If you are unfamiliar with their full features, they can replicate many of the same benefits of in-person meetings, with the ability to share PowerPoints, to whiteboard on the fly, and to ensure people are paying attention. Spend some time to learn the features of your chosen service, and make sure that the scenery behind the camera does not include something you wouldn’t want your clients to see.
- Take Breaks: For those of you who tend to get on a roll, you may actually enjoy the productivity that comes from working in isolation — without office interruptions. Make sure you allow yourself frequent breaks. Get up. Stretch. Walk around. Step outside for a few moments and enjoy some fresh air. Productivity is enhanced when we are attentive to our physical needs.
We spend many of our waking hours in a work environment, so shifting your work location in such an abrupt manner may be unsettling. But by following these tips, you can mitigate the personal impacts while ensuring you are able to provide your clients needed service and foster their own business continuity.