Pro Tips for Working From Home

April 10, 2020

Plus, could this be the silver lining during this bizarre new normal?

Last Friday my friend’s husband came home from his government job with a box of office supplies and papers in hand “ready to work from home for 30 days.” When the government, one of the most traditional work-at-a-desk jobs is ordering their teams to WFH, it’s a true sign that corporate America is entering in to new territory as a result of this global pandemic. And, as we know, they are not alone. Companies of all sizes and in-office traditions are ordering their teams to set up shop at home and adjust to a new way of work—many with little practice.

For us freelancers and consultants this is our normal way of life.

As someone who comes from more traditional come-to-the-office-everyday companies, I always admired those who had a more flexible work environment (mostly newer startups) and longed for a day when I was not be tied to my desk. Now don’t get me wrong, I loved collaborating in person with my colleagues, having someone to get coffee with, and having human interaction. But while it’s one way to get business done, it’s not the only way and I’m hoping this new pandemic-quarantine-world we are living in brings light to the opportunities and benefits that can exist when you step away from your desk. Perhaps even a new level of trust for employees?

Now, I’m not saying that every company needs to start allowing let their teams work from home all day, every day (post pandemic of course) but with ever-changing technology and a more modern approach to business, perhaps more traditional companies will begin to allow for some flexibility and in turn see happier employees and expand their talent pool.

If you are not accustomed to working from home, here are my tips for getting sh$t done. Freelancers and consultants I’d love to see any other tips you have in the comments.

Schedule your day (including everything from breaks to housework)

Map out your day by blocking of your calendar for pretty much everything. Working from home can create a lot of distractions, especially if you have a partner, roommate, or kids at home as well. Your mind can easily drift to “I need to do laundry” or “the dishwasher needs to be emptied” or “what’s on the news now”. Block out time to get these things done (even if it’s after your “work hours”) and include break times, stretch times, and meal times. It’s easy to get out of routine when you’re at home.

Write clear calendar requests

Video and voice calls get confusing when you are coordinating with a lot of people across multiple timezones. Make sure your calendar requests are clear with very direct call-in information. Is this a video? A voice call? Did you delete the auto conference information Google creates (this always causes confusion)? Did you add a clear description? Be as detailed as you can. I gets more confusing when everyone is remote.

Get the blood flowing

With nearly every fitness outlet closed (depending on what state you’re in), it’s important to keep your brain and body fresh by getting in some short workout bursts. Truly, take two minutes for burpees, jump squats, push ups, you name it. When I worked at Barry’s Bootcamp we would even do these short bursts in office and it made a huge difference. Or set time aside for walk breaks (don’t forget to add these to your calendar).

Pick your background noise wisely

I like having background noise every so often as the silence of being in your home can either add to your productivity or completely make you feel like you’re in complete solitude confinement. It’s easy to be tempted, or sucked in, by the television (sometimes that is my background noise) so make sure and only have it on when you know you can multitask or avoid getting distracted. I always like exploring Spotify’s coffee shop playlists and there are so. many. to. choose. from, plus you can transport yourself to France or Korea for a change of culture.

Take advantage of easy-access to healthy meals

This is a great time to eat healthy and make creative lunches, salads, sandwiches, “bowls” —all the things that are difficult to pack when you work in an office everyday. Grab inspiration all over the web or Instagram (sailor_bailey, thecuttingveg, and zestmylemon are all good ones). Grocery shelves can be bare these days, but the produce sections all seem pretty well stocked — so make sure and get your veggies.

Set communication expectations with your colleagues from the get-go

When people work from home they tend to feel the need to “prove” they are working. This could mean everything from cc’ing everyone on every email to over scheduling meetings to trying to answer all your emails within seconds (therefore crushing your ability to do anything else). On the flip side, you can fall in to a trap of under communicating without even knowing it. Set expectations with your leadership and colleagues early on so everyone is on the same page with communication. This includes the use of other tools such as Slack, which can crush productivity if you let it.

Keep the phone at a distance

It’s easy to get distracted by that portable digital device that’s always by your side, especially in times like this when there is a constant flow of news, group texts, family updates, Instagram, TikTok (I’m too old for this but trying to fit in) and more. Make it a point to hide the phone as much as you can when you are trying to get stuff done and allow yourself to only check it during designated break times (add it to the calendar!).

Know that it’s okay to move your office around

There’s a lot of people who might disagree with me on this one. Most people will advise work-from-homers to have a designated area for work set up with a desk, a plant, office supplies, and so on. But I’m not sure I 100% agree with that. Part of what I like about working from home is that I can sit outside, drink my coffee, and answer emails or change from my couch to my dining room table to my bar stools if I so desire. If I wanted to be in one spot all day, I’d go to an office. Don’t be afraid to switch up your scenery and get outside when the weather allows — it’s part of the beauty of it all.

Don’t forget to brush your teeth

Seriously though, don’t.

Sixty Tall (6T) has created an alternative marketing solution for startups and businesses who are looking for senior leadership, marketing direction and results-driven initiatives. We act as an extension of your team to build and execute your marketing strategy. Founder Kim Ruvolo brings decades of experience working for award-winning lifestyle brands. Think of her as your new CMO.