Are you working from home due to Covid-19?
Given the impact of Covid-19 on many countries, with businesses closing their offices and having people work remotely, I wanted to share lessons I’ve learned from working for home for more than two decades.
My working from home was a strategic choice of convenience, flexibility, quality of life, priority, and impact.
However, many people aren’t making the decision to work from home, but having it made for them by their employer or their government. If you’re working from home, count yourself lucky. There are people who are simply laid off due to lack of work and can’t work from anywhere.
Here are the major steps to consider when working from home.
Figure 54.1 Working From Home
Set-up A Real Office
To be productive at home, you need an environment that supports your ability to focus on priorities, protects you from unnecessary distractions (there are no necessary distractions), and gives you control over your space and time.
Some key set-up factors:
- A good quality chair. This costs a lot more than fifty bucks. A good chair will increase your productivity by ten percent or more per day, based on my experience. Remember, sitting is the new smoking, so at least get a good chair and then take regular standing or stretching breaks.
- While working at home, you can do yoga stretches without anyone watching.
- Adequate desk or work space. Any solid, flat space will do.
- Ideally, a door you can close to shut out distractions.
- You’ve probably already got a laptop. Either the laptop’s screen or the keyboard is at the right height ergonomically for you, but never both. Invest in an external keyboard and a laptop stand or a monitor. Ergonomics are very important.
- You’ve already got a mobile phone. Check.
- The new Apple Airpod Pros, although expensive, are worth every penny. They’re wireless. The noise cancelling feature is excellent on a Dash-8 airplane and will certainly minimize any noise distractions in your environment. From the money you’re saving on commuting, dry-cleaning, and eating out, splurge and get these. They’re a necessity, not a luxury.
Setting up your home office so it’s as close to a real office as possible is very important. And if you’ve ever worked in an open office, you’ll love the new privacy and quiet.
Strategy – Be Proactive On Priorities
Since you’re not at the office, you are now your own boss of your space and time. Well, as a business owner, you’ve always been your own boss. So, no change there.
Now, you have some distance from operations, and can stay out of the day-to-day. This is a strategic advantage for any leader or executive.
- What are your most important priorities? Business? Health? Relationships? Learning and development?
- With the time saved from commuting, what can you work on that will build your brand, grow your company, differentiate you, and attract new customers?
- What information systems need to be improved to accelerate the sharing of information remotely?
- Have you looked into Slack or some other communication and information sharing platform for your business?
- Approach your best customers and clients and offer to help them. Helping is easy. You’re not selling. The sales opportunities will show up soon enough. Be helpful.
You’ve got a great opportunity to be proactive, stay out of the day-to-day, and offer to help your customers to be prepared to accelerate growth in their business.
Schedule Your Priorities
What gets scheduled, gets done.
In an office, you’re required to attend meetings and subject to social traffic and chit chat interruptions. At home, you’re required to put dishes in the dishwasher and subject to family traffic and domestic interruptions.
Setting regular office and work hours will help you stay on track. Identifying your top three priorities for the day, which you’ve hopefully been doing at the office, will keep you aligned to make regular progress on your strategic priorities.
Most highly productive people I’ve met are in strict control of their calendars: what gets added, who gets access, and under what conditions.
It’s important for other people near your home office to respect your office hours.
It also helps if you get dressed for work and don’t look like you’re having a pyjama day. This will help others to take you seriously, especially on those video calls!
Sprint To Win
Working in sprints, whether a 25-minute pomodoro or a 90-minute intense creative session, will help to optimize your productivity. That means closing your email and web browser and focusing on your task. If you need to set a timer, do so.
Everyone is more productive when they’re working against a deadline. It’s okay to set your own artificial, interim deadline.
Did you know the most productive day we have is the day before we leave for vacation?
What can you get done in 15 minutes of focused time?
After your productive sprint, take a break, check and respond to email, have a snack, go for a walk, and do something to move around. You’ll have more energy and be even more productive when you take a good break.
Social – Staying Connected
It can feel lonely and isolated working from home, or it can be a great opportunity to proactively strengthen your most important relationships with coworkers, customers, suppliers, and family.
It’s definitely hardest on the extroverts and amiables that need the kinetic energy of others on a daily basis. It’s a lot easier on the introverts. Fortunately, technology can enable keeping people connected.
Whether you use Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, or some other video platform, it’s easy and effective to have a face-to-face meeting with someone, regardless of location. This is how I run my global coaching practice with clients in Australia, Spain, Ireland, and all over North America.
When you’re not chatting or Skyping, you’ve got more options. Take advantage of your freedom and flexibility. Go for coffee. Take someone for lunch. Try a new restaurant.
Since we all need to eat, my favorite and very time efficient strategy is to have business meetings over lunch at my favorite restaurant, The Diplomat. In the summer, I like to pick up a couple of burgers from The Diplomat and have a picnic meeting in the park with a friend, client, or business associate.
Working from home can enable you to be more strategic with your social relationships.
How can you help your employees to work from home while you turn your company into a great company?