While the world is rapidly adapting to the “new normal”, many office employees are finding themselves working from home for the first time. Razorleaf has been operating as a virtual company since we were founded in 2000. In fact, we are celebrating our 20th anniversary in 2020, it is quite a milestone! Our founder, Eric Doubell, found that working virtually was a natural way to offer the greatest flexibility that our consultants needed to be productive, maintain balance, and be ready to respond changes in the world, with our customers, and with each other. Our team brainstormed and compiled our recommendations on what we have learned in our 20 years working at home.
Get ready like you are going to work
The first thought when working from home is “oh boy, I can go to work in my slippers!”. And while that is true, it is really important to get ready like you are going to work. Shower, shave, do whatever you do to help you prepare for your day. Getting in this regular habit makes it easier to be mentally ready, and then if someone has a surprise video conference for you, you will be prepared.
Consider your workspace.
Set up a work-like environment at home when possible. Sitting on your bed or couch might seem like a good idea, but it invites distraction. If you can find a quiet corner to set up, or better yet, a desk/office space, that will be ideal. Also consider what is behind you when you are participating in a video conference. Take a look at what others may see when you communicate on video.
Buy a good wireless headset
This seems obvious but we included it anyway. The two models that were recommended by our team include:
- Jabra Elite 65T Bluetooth to cellphone or laptop
- Plantronics Savi W420-M Binaural Wireless USB Headset Lync/MOC
These two headsets may not be the latest version available. Visit http://www.headsetplus.com for more options.
The MUTE button is your friend
We cannot emphasize this one enough. Please check your mute button when you are doing home things while on a call (putting something in the dishwasher, laundry, running water, etc). We are not recommending that you should do those things, but it is one of the benefits of being at home. Even our experienced work-at-home team has found themselves forgetting this little chestnut and guaranteed someone will call you out.
Make a daily task list
This is just a good practice anyway but when you start working at home, you can find yourself disorganized quickly. By creating a list that you can review at the end of the day and reset in the first thing in the morning, you’ll be on the right track for productivity.
It is business as usual, forget you are at home
Working at home for those who normally do recognize it’s a privilege, and for many right now it is a necessity. Your business needs you to be productive and do your job like you usually do. Once you get in the work zone, you forget you are there. There are differences socially, but you can make fresh coffee whenever you want. It also brings us to our next important point.
Communicate more not less
When you lose the social aspect of being in an office, you don’t have the chance to “run something by you” in the hall or at the coffee pot. What’s important is to not lose those opportunities to socialize ideas. Pick up the phone and call someone; use Microsoft Teams or whatever collaboration tool your company provides. It is a good etiquette to send a text, message or chat to someone to see if they are available for a conversation because you can’t see what they are doing or if they are free. Make time for more conversations and you will not feel the social loss as much. Try not to email your way through all your communications with your team, customers, and vendors. Email can quickly introduce misunderstandings and overtones that were not originally intended. Email is good for many things, but it should not replace all your communication methods.
Keep/establish ground rules of availability – and communicate that to your team and your household
Set a schedule and stick to it – breaks, lunch, workouts, etc. Let your team know of your availability windows. In addition, now that many are working from home with family around them, it’s even more important to let your household know when you will be unavailable to talk with them. Kids do not always fully understand that you are working, so if you can close a door or put up a sign that indicates when they can come in and when they cannot, it will help you stay sane.
Wrap up the day to account for your time
Remember that list you put together in #5? Take a few minutes at the end of your day to review that list and see how you did. Don’t be surprised that you got off track or deviated from your initial plan. It happens at home just like it does at work. You may discover you are more productive at home. Reset your list for the next day and wrap up your work just like you do in the office.
Remember to stop working – be done with your day
One of the biggest traps in working from home is that your day sometimes doesn’t end. You find yourself going back to the laptop to “send one more email” or complete one more task. It’s fine to do that, but just make sure you are able to turn off work at some point. Your mind and body need the break to recharge and prepare for a new day.
That about covers it. We hope this list was helpful, or at best a good reminder of things you already know. We are here to help you, please reach out to us at Razorleaf if we can help your organization better support a virtual working environment. Contact us anytime, we are just a phone call (330-676-0022) or email away.