Setting Up for Successful Work at Home

By: Kelly Gillespie, Business Consultant

The impact of COVID-19 has touched virtually every aspect of our daily lives, disrupting social interactions, family life, communities, careers, and how we do business. Many schools and universities have shifted to online learning for the remainder of the school year. Many companies suddenly have most--if not all-- their employees working from home for the first time. In an overwhelming time as this, here are simple ways employees can set themselves up for telecommuting success.

Set Up Your Workspace

While we don’t know for certain how long social distancing may be necessary or required, set up your home office space in an area that is dedicated solely for work for as long as remote working is necessary. This should be a place you are able to focus and feel comfortable, with minimal distractions. If you will be video conferencing, consider your background as well.

Establish A Routine

When you’re working from home – and especially during a shelter-in-place order – it’s easy to fall away from a regular routine, from waking at a specific time to even getting out of your pajamas. Professionals who have been telecommuting since long before Coronavirus was a household word recommend waking early and getting fully ready for the day, as if you were going to an office building for your work day. Doing this not only physically prepares you for the day, it helps set you up mentally to take on your work tasks.

If you’re able, keep your routine and schedule the same or similar to your pre-telecommuting days. Structuring your day at home in the same way you did at the office may help keep you focused and on task. There is also something to be said for feeling that sense of normalcy and stability in a time when things feel “off” and uncertain.

Plan Your Day

For those fortunate enough to have flex in their work schedule, identify when you’re most productive and plan your day accordingly. If you have children home with you at this time, schedule a two hour “quiet time” in the middle of the day for reading, napping, or screen time so you can focus on work.

Plan tomorrow’s meetings, tasks, and lunch today. Things may come up that require a shift in plans, but if you plan ahead you are more likely to have a clear expectation of what needs to be accomplished that day. And if lunch is planned, you won’t waste time looking through your pantry and refrigerator deciding what to eat.

Remember to also plan breaks in your day. It can be easy to get distracted with laundry that needs done or other home chores when you’re working from home. If this is a distraction for you, plan 5-10-minute breaks in your daily calendar and schedule those types of tasks. This allows you to focus on work during the appropriate times, knowing you have time planned to get those things done later.

Stay Connected

Schedule regular check-ins with colleagues via a video platform. The face-to-face communication is a good way to stay connected as a team and keep each other informed. Stay on task and on time, but allow for a bit of the social chatter that you would normally have when in office together. Working from home can be isolating, but especially so during a shelter-in-place order.

Employees with Children

For employees with kids, some of the above won’t be feasible. It is important to have a schedule, or at least a framework, and establish routine for your day and theirs. In addition to the tips above that you are able to adopt, here are a few more ideas.

Manage Expectations

You likely won’t be able to work a regular 8-hour day. You may have to break your day up into early morning hours before the kids get up and/or at night after they go to bed. When planning tomorrow’s tasks today, list your top priorities and tackle those first. Be sure to also communicate with your employer and coworkers that your kids are home, too.

Plan Supervision-free Activities

Arrange virtual playdates for your kids to Facetime grandma so she can entertain them by reading a book, dancing, or playing games. Here are ideas for activities kids can do with minimal supervision.

A solid foundation to success when working from home lies in the systems, connection, and security measures the company has in place. At Blue Valley, we’re here to make sure you and your team are set up securely for success.