GUIDE: Workplace Rules While Working From Home
Welcome to the new – and hopefully temporary – reality. If you are not a regular work-from-home (WFH) worker here are a few things I have learned during my transition from office to home.
I worked in an office for most of my career but about ten years ago I set up shop at home. It was an interesting, and at times difficult, transition but I made it work. Here are a few suggestions that may make your transition a little easier:
- Make a Space – Balancing your laptop on your knees while sitting on the couch will get old very quickly. You need to designate an “office” space. That will keep you organized and also put you into an “at work” frame of mind. Ideally, it will be someplace you can close off – especially if you have kids at home.
- Keep a Schedule – Good news! You just got back several hours of your day because your daily commute is now measured in steps not traffic. This will free up your morning a bit so dedicate that to some “me” or family time. Keep as close to your regular hours as possible. Beware the “working late” trap. It is easy to stay on the computer when you don’t have to beat the traffic.
- Stay Secure – I’m referring to your computer. If you are accessing your work through a portal your company likely has some rigid guidelines in place. You also need to make sure your computer is secure. If you cannot afford one of the paid services AVG is a good free one (avg.com)
- Discipline/Focus – Working from home is fraught with distractions. Whether it’s your family, pets or incessant YouTube videos – you need police your time. At the same time, don’t become a workaholic. One hard rule I have is that I will not watch any TV until after 5:30 because it would be very easy to binge your day away.
- Distraction – That said, let’s be real. In an eight-hour workday, no one actually works for the non-stop for the entire day. Take time out for lunch, walk around the house, step outside (avoiding other people) or just simply stretch. It is very easy to sit at your computer the entire day. You don’t do that at the office so don’t do it at home.
- Interaction – This is the hardest part of the work from home experience. You find that you will begin to miss those casual interactions that are a normal part of your workday. Instead of quick conversations most of your communications will be via e-mail. Fortunately, we have so many digital platforms that allow us to connect visually you can mitigate the isolation – a bit.
- Wardrobe – You can certainly take “business casual” down a notch. However, lying around in your sweats all day is no way to go through life. Going to work is a routine and getting dressed is an important part of that ritual. You don’t have to “suit up” but looking presentable will put you in a more work-friendly frame of mind. Chances are you will be doing a lot of video conferencing. Take a tip from TV anchors – make sure you look good from the waist up.
- Reward Yourself – You are transitioning from a shared environment to a personal space. You can listen to music on speakers and turn it up as loud as you want. Or, put in those ear buds so the family won’t disturb you. Play with your pets – they will relish the extra attention. Get to those projects you’ve been putting off or avoiding. Reach out to friends and family. Order out – the restaurants need our help. And, make something more complicated than a sandwich.
These are trying times, for sure, but we are all sharing the same experience. It will eventually end so we each must do the best we can to endure.
What suggestions do you have for making your WFH time more productive?