How to Effectively Work from Home During the Pandemic
Working from home can feel like a daunting task if you are not accustomed to it – but no fear! We’ve been doing it for a while and we have some definite experience and advice we can offer. You can do it too – and still be productive.
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How to Effectively Work from Home During the Pandemic
We know you’re probably scared. Everything is a bit of a frenzy right now, and it feels like everything is up in the air. A pandemic of this magnitude is out of everyone’s control and so many people are struggling for understanding and trying to find a solution to existing in this new (hopefully temporary) environment.
Everyone’s situation looks different, but one common thing is a lot of people are beginning to work from home. There are more people working from home now than ever before due to the digital revolution, but it is still a foreign thing that is causing a lot of fear and unrest for those not accustomed to it.
Know that we are confident in everyone’s ability to work from home and still get stuff done! We have been working mostly from home for a while now, and as a digital marketing agency, we are familiar with a lot of the tools that companies will need to utilize in order to effectively work from home. There are certain routines, skills, suggestions that help too – working from home is definitely different from working from an office!
Now we know that everyone’s situation is different. Some people have kids staying home from school, others have large, loud families, some may have elderly living in their home that requires care. There are no perfect scenarios to switch to working from home, and everyone will have to try different things to see what will work best for them. Here are some major pointers to consider:
Know and Use All of the Free Resources Available to You
If you are an employer working for a company that is sending everyone to work from home, hopefully, they have set you up with all of the virtual resources you need. If not, check our virtual resources page for some options. Or you might be the business owner or person taking point on your company going virtual. If you have never worked virtually before it can be very confusing and overwhelming trying to find and choose which resources to use. Some tools you might find yourself needing for a virtual environment that you didn’t use before are:
- Phone conferencing
- Video conferencing
- Group text messaging
- Access to the company file server
- A program for sending documents back and forth (as most people probably don’t have scanners at home)
Every organization will be unique in their needs, but it can be helpful to create a checklist of all of your daily tasks and the tools or programs you require in order to complete them. Then look at this list and ask yourself if you can get this done at home on either your home computer or company laptop.
Set Up a Dedicated Work Area
If you don’t already have a home office, plan to set up a dedicated work area. It’s important to keep this work area just that, a place where only work happens. Try not to set it up in your bedroom or favorite leisure room in your home because you don’t want to confuse your body when you go to sleep at night or go to relax in the evening. Here are some best practices in setting up a dedicated workspace:
- NOT in your bedroom
- Set it in a room where you can close the door if possible to keep it separate from family members or housemates.
- If you have the option set up where there is a window or natural light
- Set up everything you will need one day one (laptop, notebooks, pens, etc.) so you won’t be disturbed having to run back to the office or the store. Take the time to set up your space.
- Do what works for you. A small corner may work for you, or a large counter spread out in your kitchen. Ultimately go where you can be undisturbed and productive.
Create a Productive Routine
Personal accountability and routine can be one of the most challenging things when working from home. It’s easy to take a longer lunch to play with your dog a little extra, take a quick 15-minute meditation or nap that turns into 30 minutes, or start late and end late.
The best thing to do is to try and keep the same work hours that you would normally keep at the office. If you work 9 am-5 pm, work at home 9 am-5 pm. If you normally work 2 pm-11 pm, do the same at home. This way it will not throw off your home routine, you already know what’s going on, what’s you’re missing or not, pets will stay on the same eating and potty schedule, etc.
While keeping the same hours may help you, you may still be thrown by family members or housemates who are at home while you’re trying to work. Try to set firm work boundaries with them. You can have work hours where you are not to be disturbed so you can continue to be productive or a sign on your office door that says whether you are available or not.
On the other hand, the advantage of working from home is that you are able to spend your break time with family rather than around the water cooler. So feel free to enjoy your lunch with your partner, or take your kids or dog on a walk during your lunch, but keep a firm boundary with the time so you can stay productive.
The energy of working from home alone behind a computer can be very draining for those used to working face-to-face with colleagues or having meetings with them in person. To adjust to a more solitary environment, try setting a timer for mini sprints. Work laser-focused for 20 minutes, then get up and walk, stretch, or call a college for 5 minutes. Or work for two hours, and take a 15 minute outside break. Try different things with your routine to find what works best for you to stay productive.
Going from an office to a home work environment affects a lot of daily routines, but the main one is always communication. If you are used to speaking to colleagues face-to-face and suddenly you are at home working on a computer alone, it can feel empty and lonely. There are a lot of ways to adjust communication for these trying times to try and keep things as normal as possible.
Increase communication by having a daily huddle and/or daily wrap up meeting. This will keep things going on a daily basis and increase accountability to stay productive and get tasks done before the next huddle.
Prioritize communication strategies. If you normally talk to someone in person, it can be difficult to transfer that communication into text. Try video conferencing first, then pick up the phone, then email, then text. You cannot over-communicate.
Have strategic communication. Set up daily huddles, weekly meetings, and know what exactly you plan to get accomplished in these meetings so that you have smooth communication and clarity of direction. If you don’t plan your meetings you may end up catching and chatting and wasting time (but still do this! Community is important, just not during scheduled meeting time!)
How can we help?
If Bolt Goodly can be of service in any way, please give us a call. We’re happy to offer some guidance on how to get set up to work from home, or via your website, or social media. On another note, think about all of the distractions you have at the office that might help you get things done! Think about that course you wanted to take, that extra project you wanted to work on. Maybe you can work ahead. There are so many advantages to being able to work from home if you are willing to see it from that perspective.
Happy virtual working!