With many changes occurring to the ways Americans work, many employees find themselves working more frequently from home. While some may enjoy the chance to work remotely, many others have been thrust into a new environment unprepared. Simplicity is foundational to an excellent work-from-home strategy. Here are some recommendations to stay productive and connected.
CREATE A DISTRACTION-FREE ZONE
If you don’t have a home office, create for yourself a clutter-free area where you can work undisturbed. Gather just what you need and set up an office area at the kitchen island or on the dining room table. Pick any location you want, except for your bedroom. To ensure a good night’s sleep, experts say you shouldn’t do anything in your bedroom except sleep.
With perhaps other family members working from home and even children out of school, this is important for everyone involved. Dedicate work time for yourself where fellow family members know not to disturb you. Then, at the end of this period, come out of your office and check-in with those around you. Also, when working from home, since you aren’t physically traveling to a different place, it’s easy to let work creep into all hours of the day. Set reasonable starting and stopping times and stick to them.
STAY IN TOUCH
Email used to be an excellent way to send status updates, but now those messages get buried with dozens, if not hundreds of others per day. Instead, if your company doesn’t have project management software up and running yet, try creating a Google Sheet where everyone can share the document. Create a column for the task, the person responsible, the due date, and the status. All employees can update the sheet throughout the day. Think of it as your collaboration hub. If you want to try project management software, Zoho Projects is a popular choice.
The goal is to stay connected but not create a new distraction. When everyone is in an office, it’s easy to see if someone is busy or talking with another person. When working remotely, those cues are gone. Since you can’t know if someone is available, err on the side of caution and don’t interrupt them. Set a time to check-in with your boss and team. Whether morning, midday, or both, having a dedicated time to resolve issues will keep everyone working efficiently with few interruptions. Constant texts, emails, and instant Slack or Skype messages can be distracting and slow down work instead of facilitating it. When it’s time to connect, Skype, Zoom, and other technologies are great for audio and visual team meetings.
Now that you are working from home, it’s possible those projects around the house you’ve never felt like doing will suddenly seem enticing. To stay focused on work, set a timer for 50 minutes, where you will only focus on work. Then take the rest of the hour to fold that basket of laundry or play with the dog.