Updated: May 12, 2020
Hello. My name is Rachel and I’m a Manager at Cleartech Group. Many of our customers have spoken to me on the phone or through email, though have never seen me in person. That’s because I work from home. I’ve been doing this now for over 7 years, and I have some tips that may make your work at home experience more successful. What I’ve discovered is there are 3 major areas where working from home is affected and can be improved. These are Environment, Schedule and Routine, and Communication.
Before I made the switch to working from home, I spent close to 20 years working in a regular office surrounded by other people all day long. Transitioning from that type of environment to the one I am in now was not without challenges. Though, through some trials (and errors) throughout the years, I’ve not only made working from home “work”, I’ve also made it enjoyable. Here’s what I learned that may help you during this time where many have been ordered to work from home for a bit.
Working from home can be a big change from the office/company environment you’ve been used to for so long. Dedicating a space in your home that’s free from distractions is crucial. You may not think this is important since at work there are tons of distractions. Though, all those work distractions have one thing in common…they are work related. Moving your work to your home opens a whole new set of possible interruptions.
Take it from me, it’s kind of awkward having a large dog barking in the background while you are trying to help a customer on the phone! It’s also not fun explaining to a colleague why your 8-year-old is having a fit while you are trying to have a meeting. You may not be able to silence everything around you, but it helps if you can minimize it. A bedroom, or other room with a door that closes will help.
After you find your quiet space, find yourself a comfortable chair and a desk of some sort. You may need to be creative at this point. My first desk was a small kitchen table we were no longer using. You may already have a desk or home office set up and that’s wonderful, though it’s not necessary to be able to work from home. You also want to make sure your set up is close to an outlet so you can plug in your computer equipment. I started off with a laptop, and the battery doesn’t last as long as you may think when you are working steadily on it for a few hours.
Besides the physical set up of your home office, you may need to download certain software, and gain access to your computer and network at the office. Please take direction from your company on what access will be needed. Cleartech Group is also here to help you get set up with remote access.
One of the major changes you will face is your work and home environment is now the same place! You will need to make a conscious decision to break up the monotony of this. Taking regular breaks helps. Go outside for a few minutes to change the scenery. If you can, take a walk during lunch, or sit in the yard for a bit.
Also, try not to eat lunch at your desk. This one I struggled with quite often. I would make my food, then take it back to my desk to eat. Then, I would continue to work through my lunch since I was sitting in front of my computer. It’s best to take a break, walk away and enjoy your lunch away from your workspace.
Schedule and Routine
Your regular, daily routine is changing now that you are working from home. Even though you don’t need to factor in travel time to the office, I suggest you still get up at least an hour before you start work. You can use this time to have your coffee, take a shower, and plan for the day ahead.
Make a list of tasks you need to get done for the day. Write down any challenges or obstacles you may have in completing these tasks. Schedule time to talk to your supervisor or boss about anything that may be holding you back from getting your work done.
You may also find that having a little extra time in the morning before work could be used to do things you’ve been wanting to but didn’t have the time for before. Here are a few suggestions:
Listen to a podcast
Watch an inspirational video
Read a few pages of a book
Start a free online course
You may find when it’s safe to go back to work that you enjoy doing some of these things and wake up a little earlier each day to make it happen! If you are interested in in learning more about making the most of your mornings, I suggest reading The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.
The major shift from seeing your coworkers every day to working from home can be the most challenging. It’s so important to communicate with them via phone, video, and online chats several times a day. The benefits here are two-fold. You will keep up the momentum of getting things done AND continue to work as a team.
Working from home can sometimes get lonely. It’s just you and your computer unless you make the effort to connect with others. Or for those of you who have family members home with you, it can be trying to keep the distractions at bay. Whatever your circumstance, keep the lines of communication open with the people you work with. Allowing multiple forms of communication makes it easier to do so.
I highly recommend using video meetings at least a couple of times during the week to connect, communicate, and get on the same page. Microsoft Teams is a great way to achieve this. Teams can be used to make calls, online chat, and have video meetings with your coworkers. Zoom also offers a free version that can be used for video meetings up to 40 minutes long. Communication is key during this time when the people you work with are all in different places.
Well, I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it. I am confident these tips will help make your work from home experience, however brief or long it may be, a little easier to navigate. Feel free to reach out to me, or the Cleartech Team for additional assistance during this challenging time.
Contact us at 978-466-1938 or reach out online.