With the attention on Coronavirus (COVID-19) turning from containment to prevention, companies around the world are implementing a work from home policy for their employees. This strategy, aimed at further stopping the rapid spread of the virus, allows employees to self-quarantine while still getting their work done. The adjustment can be difficult, as many of us are accustomed to the comradery that comes with an office setting.
At Castle, we have a team of people who head up our Atlanta and Hawaii offices virtually, every day. Our resident experts Philip (Atlanta), Keri (Hawaii) and Maria (New Jersey) put together a work from home guide to help ease the anxiety of such a big adjustment:
1. Set a routine and a designated workspace.
Working from home comes with plenty of distractions. At-home tasks like doing the laundry, tidying up the house in general or catching up with a neighbor can easily shift your focus from your work. It takes some discipline but try to tune out from the distractions as much as possible by logging in and logging off just as you would in an office setting. (Okay, laundry might be an exception here.)
2. Furthering the last point, mirror the workday as best you can.
Mirror the workday as best you can. It is very easy to start working as soon as you get up and keep working through dinner – your desk is wherever your laptop is, and it’s usually not that far away from you. Do your best to stick to work hours.
3. Reduce the accessibility of snacks.
Try not to have really good snacks in the house. We are in the midst of a global pandemic so a few may be necessary, but mindfulness is key—otherwise, you will realize you’ve gone through an entire box of Cheerios by 5 p.m.!
4. Go outside and take a breather.
Taking a few moments to step away from your computer and get some fresh air could significantly improve mental clarity and productivity. An article in the New York Times, suggests that “standing up and walking around for five minutes every hour during the workday could lift your mood, combat lethargy without reducing focus and attention.” If you’re feeling stuck or in a rut, taking those five minutes could be a gamechanger.
5. Also, take a lunch break.
According to this article in Inc., all breaks aren’t created equally, but to get the full benefit of a break, you must completely disconnect from work. Again, allowing yourself to reset and refuel helps with productivity for the rest of the day.
6. Find creative ways to form huddles.
Working from home is a bit more challenging in terms of collaborating with teams. What formerly was a quick check-in at your colleague’s desk is now impossible, so you have to be creative and form “huddles” in other ways. Virtual collaboration platforms, such as Microsoft Teams or Slack, or simply picking up the phone to call a colleague or client when appropriate, are great ways to still feel connected to your team.
7. Test-run with your technology to avoid hiccups.
Remember, for the time being, you will not have access to a conference room with a spider phone, which can create challenges for a conference or video call. Having a test run to ensure all technology is properly functioning will help avoid any hiccups.
P.S. Using headphones instead of speaker makes it easier to hear and be heard.
P.P.S. Learn how to time the mute button properly – especially if you have pets or young children at home.
8. Use the cloud.
If your company has network cloud capabilities, making sure all documents are uploaded to the cloud can streamline collaboration on tasks and projects. Making sure all working documents are uploaded can significantly improve the accuracy and efficiency of collaborative tasks.
9. Self-authority is key.
Of course, we have managers in the office. But when working from home, you must be your own self-authority. Don’t be too rigid and work from sun-up to sun-down and definitely don’t be too lax, eating potato chips all day on the couch (see bullet #3). Practice the art of balance….and yes, this takes practice.
Taking these recommended steps are a guaranteed way to remain productive even from home. Human interaction is still key, so remember you are still on a team and your colleagues are there to support you. Though many companies are implementing their work from home policy indefinitely, this will not be the situation forever, and we’ll all return to the office before we know it!
The Castle Team