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Tips for Working From Home Successfully

Deb Turney

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Tips for Working From Home Successfully

Social Media | Twitter | business strategy | pandemic | covid-19 | work from home | working remotely

There are many more of us engaged in working from home today, thanks to the crisis of Covid-19 and our self-isolation. I’m experienced at working for myself, at home, and it’s not always easy. I still get distracted, although I’m getting better at it. I have the luxury of working from home or heading into the office, some work I do better from home, some it’s best to be in the office for. I thought I would share some of my experiences and tips for making working remotely successful, for you and the business. 

To make remote work, well work, you need to embrace everything that working remotely entails. You need to acknowledge that you are going to experience a range of emotions and seek support for them from your boss or a colleague (or a friend) if you are. On the flip side, remote work also offers additional benefits and opportunities for personal and professional development. 

Being part of a team outside of the office, comes with challenges, so let’s look at the good and the bad, and what needs to be handled to make it a successful endeavour. 

Procrastination… a load of washing vs deadline. 

Is experienced by anyone who works from home or remotely. Working from home means that we are open to multi-tasking and distractions. It takes a very experienced home worker to conquer this. I have days when I still struggle. 

The temptation to throw in that load of washing, do the dishes, wash the car or strip the bed in between meetings versus completing that less than glamorous report on last month's sales figures is often overwhelming - and let’s face it, easier.

Boundaries need to be in place; experts encourage setting up dedicated space where you can close the world out and concentrate on the job at hand. You need to be in a work-space both physically and mentally, and can go even further by customising the space, without the corporate restrictions; think oil burners and background music. I personally have a work Spotify playlist to keep me focused, it's easy listening and something I don't have to think too much about, as it's many of my favourites. I almost always have a nice candle burning. 

Distractions such as collecting the mail, or hanging up your washing may only take a few minutes, but it often takes 3 times that time to refocus on the job at hand. Ask yourself, can it wait? Are you just looking for a distraction, and can you really afford to be wasting 30 minutes right now?  

It’s all really an adjustment and it will take time for you and those around you to get used to the routine that you need to develop to make it a success. Make yourself a timetable, I’ve done that before when I have a deadline, and I stick to it. And lose the distractions such as social media while you are on the job. 

Look after yourself; leave the biscuits alone. 

Looking after yourself to maximise your potential is important no matter where you work, leave the biscuits and chocolate alone. 

Normally have a chicken salad on your lunch hour at the office - why change now you’re working from home? Yeah sure you’ll have to make it, but it will likely take the same time that you took to go to the cafe to buy it anyway. Take the time you would to walk to the cafe to shut down the screen, stretch, do some star jumps or just walk out on the balcony or verandah and breathe! Go out for lunch even as you would at work if that works.

Eating well, sleeping and exercising are the good habits you need to maintain; especially when it’s so easy to get lazy and order home delivery. Shop well, and ensure that you have good food at home on hand to cook. 

These good habits will also make it easier for you to focus and concentrate, so you are just as chipper at the video meeting as you would be when you are in the office. 

When your work is done; it’s done. Leave it alone! 

Our smart phone is the greatest enabler of allowing our work to interfere with our personal lives. The flipside of being sidetracked by personal stuff when working remotely, is it also lets work encroach on your personal space and time. You need to be agile at shutting down and being present with your family and friends. 

Take a break almost like you would take the bus to and from work. Go for a walk,  or read a book for 30 minutes. Trick the brain into believing that you are revving up or winding down for the day in between work and personal time. 

Communicate your hours to your colleagues and stick to them; just because you can be connected at all times - especially with colleagues in different countries and time zones - don’t be. 

Connect, network then repeat.

If you are living remotely the benefits may be closer to family, affordable accommodation, but adversely it can also be isolating and nerve-wracking. No more Friday drinks with colleagues and the ability to attend ad hoc industry and networking events. 

Accepting that compromise or trade off means looking for different but equally valuable networking opportunities. Technology means you can engage in webinars, connected meetings and training while working remotely. 

Subscribe to email newsletters such as Medium, and interact by commenting and asking questions.  Use Twitter chats, online communities and groups that your colleagues and industry are interacting with, and get involved. Use platforms liked LinkedIn and Facebook, to network and engage with industry, and do a bit of research on remote networking. 

From band member to solo artist 

At first it’s quiet (until you develop that playlist), and often really lonely, and talking to your pet or yourself won’t help. Although I still find myself doing this from time to time anyhow. 

You’ll need to be more intentional and mindful now of contact with your colleagues and interacting with them. There’s no more gossiping over the water cooler, but you can still engage in conversation through team building video meetings, chat boxes with other team members. I chat with my boss at least twice a day when working from home - on the phone and via video chat. I minute these meetings, like we were in one at work. 

Interaction enables us to make better decisions, so that should be undertaken intentionally; share ideas and gain feedback and the responses that physical interactions bring us. 

You will also have all that connectivity and commute time to engage in professional development or online fitness classes.

Look after yourself; leave the biscuits alone, and get dressed. 

When you get up, take a shower, get dressed (maybe not in a suit) but even put lipstick on if it helps you get into the ‘work’ mindset. You do not want your colleagues seeing you in the video conference in your pajamas. 

Looking after yourself to maximise your potential is important no matter where you work, leave the biscuits and chocolate alone. Normally have a chicken salad on your lunch hour at the office - why change now you’re working from home? Yeah sure you’ll have to make it, but it will likely take the same time that you took to go to the cafe to buy it anyway. 

Take the time you would to walk to the cafe to shut down the screen, stretch, do some star jumps or just walk out on the balcony or verandah and breathe!

Eating well, sleeping and exercising are the good habits you need to maintain; especially when it’s so easy to get lazy and order home delivery. Shop well, and ensure that you have good food at home on hand to cook. Go out for lunch even as you would at work if that works.

These good habits will also make it easier for you to focus and concentrate, so you are just as chipper at the video meeting as you would be when you are in the office. 

Be results-driven

In my previous roles I’ve had the opportunity to work from home or remotely for various reasons, for many years. Sometimes it was to get things done, sometimes it was because as an EA I had to be available for the boss who was in the UAE. I’d be required to be working at 11pm at night, but the upside was I got a sleep in and went to the office for only half a day.

I’ve always found that completion of a task while you are in charge of yourself is the most rewarding aspect of remote working. These days I do some contracting content writing, outside of my day job as an Office/Operations/Project Manager here at Skypoynt. 

Today I’m wearing both hats by completing this blog from home. It’s the second one I’ve written this morning and it’s only 12:15pm. Even though it’s only a small team that I work with now, I just wouldn’t be able to achieve that at the office, as this is my writing place. 

I’m pretty happy with my productivity today, and the boss will be too. I’ve completed 2 tasks, and will head into the office next week feeling like I’ve contributed to the business, and I’ve done a great job. It makes me feel valued even from my living room.

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