The Top 6 Tips for Working at Home
As the impact of COVID-19 continues to evolve, employees across the globe are finding themselves working from home on a broad scale. Millions of us are trying to work from home and continue to be productive, agile, and engaged. Some employees may be working from home for the first time and are finding it hard to find their groove.
With an employee base spread across the nation, here at Avtex we operate as a highly digital and agile workforce. In fact, over 80 percent of our 450 employees work remote each day. We asked several of them for their pro-tips on working from home and have compiled the top 6 responses below.
Create a Dedicated Workspace
If possible, create a dedicated space that you can use as an office, that is “separate” from the rest of your home. When you need to go to work, go into the space. And when you’re done, step out. It’s also important to make sure any others in the house are aware that the space is yours and yours alone during work hours. Outfit your space with the appropriate equipment to maximize your productivity and collaboration.
“My office is my space. No one is allowed in here but me, and my door is shut while I am working. When I am finished at night, I close the door and that helps me unwind.” -Sherri Loechte, Genesys Alliance Manager
“Create space between where you do your work and where you spend your down time. My first mistake as a Remote Worker was putting my desk at the foot of my bed.” -John Watkinson, Sr. Workforce Management Consultant
“Whiteboards! I have two whiteboards in my home office – one is a desk whiteboard that is just an angled piece of glass that I can jot down action items on. I also painted a wall of my office with whiteboard paint that allows me to have a second web-camera pointed there for remote-working meetings.” -John Seeds, VP of Marketing
“Ensure you have a good set up away from distraction including the proper number of screens and a functional desk. Keeping your workspace tidy also helps with staying focused.” -Kassie Houseman, Account Executive
“Ask your employer to provide you what you need to be productive, be it an extra monitor, a headset, or mouse/keyboard. When you are in the office you likely have a specific set up that works for you and allows you to be productive. Your home office should have that same level of comfort for you.” -Brian Johnson, Director, Managed Services
Establish a Schedule
Another important tip is to establish a schedule and adhere to it. Being at home can bring a lot of distractions, making it important to map out your day and stick to a routine. It can also be difficult to get into the “work” mindset when you’re at home. A schedule helps to differentiate between your “work” and “home” self and can keep productive and on task. Your schedule is also important for any other people you share your home with – be sure to set boundaries for the folks at home with you. Sometimes it’s as simple as closing the door, or even putting a sign out that lets them know you’re on a call and you can’t be disturbed.
“Begin and end your workday with intention. It’s easy to blur work into your personal time when it’s so accessible. Wake up and prepare as if you are going to an office. That preparation period can be meditative and frame your workday with time-defined boundaries.” -Rachel Duggins, Business Development Executive
“Establish a normal work schedule, preferably in a room where you can shut the door. Working from home makes it really easy to work around-the-clock, but it’s important to unplug and spend your off hours recharging so you can put forth your best effort the next day.” -Brandy DuToit Klocksien, Senior Recruiter
“When you are working at home, sometimes friends and family don’t internalize that you are actually working and they assume you will have time to do the dishes, or laundry or fix a meal. Setting a schedule and making it known helps to avoid that.” -Brian Johnson, Director, Managed Services
With so many technology options available to us, working remotely no longer has to make you feel disconnected from your colleagues and clients. There are productivity tools that make your home office just as connected as if you were in the office. Utilize video, instant messaging and email to stay agile and engaged. When collaborating via technology, always remember to follow any security and bandwidth protocol set forth by your organization.
“I have been using video through Microsoft Teams on every call while working remotely. Even if the rest of the participants aren’t using video, it has kept me engaged in the conversation and thus productive. Increasingly, other people are turning on video once they see mine active. People generally want to be seen and interact visually, but being the first mover is hard for some.” -Brad Howe, Sales Director, Strategic Accounts
“The advent of working from home has spawned a new generation of remote productivity tools. Microsoft Teams, Slack, Google Hangouts Meet, Zoom, etc. Productivity can be achieved without it, but using video during your workday for remote meetings adds a layer of accountability to yourself and your peers. It also helps make the working from home adjustment easier and quicker.” -Trent Vance, Senior Contact Center Consultant
“Be aware of bandwidth hogs – I’m looking at you, streaming channels and gaming channels! With multiple people at home there can be a fight for bandwidth; you should be aware of what needs to be prioritized while working.” -Brian Johnson, Director, Managed Services
Just as you do in an office environment, it’s important to take a break throughout the day. Get up, move around, take a walk. Use those breaks as opportunities to recharge, whether you are eating lunch, taking the dog for a quick walk, or just stretching your legs.
“Put intentional breaks (even just five minutes) throughout your day. It may sound like a little thing, but time management is critical to your success (and sanity).” -John Watkinson, Sr. Workforce Management Consultant
“Take a quick walk over your lunch break or move to a different area of your home. Just like when we’re in the office, sometimes a change of scenery can put us in a totally different mind frame.” -Brandy DuToit Klocksien, Senior Recruiter
“Get up and move around regularly. If you need to, set a timer. The natural breaks to walk away from your computer that occur in an office will not happen as frequently when you are working in the house.” -Rachel Duggins, Business Development Executive
“When you are in the office, breaks tend to happen naturally simply because someone stops by your desk, or you walk down the hallway and run into someone. At home it may just be you and the dog… take time to get up and move around. Take a quick walk with the dog or stretch and be active.” -Brian Johnson, Director, Managed Services
“Schedule breaks between your calls and meetings. You need to get out of your office for a few minutes – grab a snack or coffee, take your pets out, sit outside for a few minutes, do some laundry or the dishes to break things up for a few minutes. (These are some of the awesome benefits of working from home).” -Sue Hoatson, Sales Director, Financial Services
Connect with Others
Being in an office creates lots of opportunities for face to face conversations. We catch up on projects and we catch up on weekends and personal lives. When you’re at home, it’s easy to become isolated and forget about your teammates. Pick up the phone, use IM, send an email – just be sure to connect with others throughout the day and get those personal connections we all crave.
“Connecting with others is important. Working from home means we miss out on some of the conversations about how someone’s weekend was, personal projects we’re working on, or time to find connectivity with someone. Make some time to spend a couple minutes connecting with a teammate or others when you’re on a call. It’s important to find that human interaction so you don’t burn out and find yourself talking to a mailbox.” -Brandy DuToit Klocksien, Senior Recruiter
“Make sure you are reaching out to team members frequently, even just to say howdy.” -Jon Walker, VP of Technical Services
“Create water cooler moments to personally connect with your co-workers.” -John Watkinson, Sr. Workforce Management Consultant
“I typically call family and friends on my way to and from work to catch up, laugh and decompress. Working from home eliminates the drive time and thus has the potential to increase isolation. Consciously making time to connect with extended family and friends while working from home has been hard, but very rewarding.” -Brad Howe, Sales Director, Strategic Accounts
Dress for Success
When you're working from your home, the temptation to stay in your sweats all day is high. But when you dress like you're heading into the office, it helps you mentally prepare for the day and remind yourself that you are working - and sets the tone for being productive throughout the work hours.
“I know that the temptation to dress down when you work from home is real, but don’t fall into the trap. I find that dressing too casually affects both my mindset and my productivity. If you want to make sure that you can get work done when you work from home, dressing as if you’re going into the office is a great mental trick." -John Watkinson, Sr. Workforce Management Consultant
"Always get up and prep/dress like you are going into work. You'll find yourself more productive and in the right mindset." -Jon Walker, VP of Technical Services
"One of the great benefits about working from home is that you can just pop out of bed and start your day. Unfortunately, working from home means the day can go by quickly and before you know it, three days have gone by and you’re still wearing the same shirt. Take time to get ready for the day!" -Brandy DuToit Klocksien, Senior Recruiter
"Even though you are not going into the office – jump in the shower every morning before work. Somehow a shower has a miraculous ability to wake up the body, mind, and spirit and makes you feel ready for the day." -Sue Hoatson, Sales Director, Financial Services
Working from home right now can feel like a daunting plan, especially since the timing is so fluid; we could find ourselves remote for an extended period of time. We hope these tips help ease your transition to working at home and help you achieve success.