Communication is key - even small talk
When it comes to working from home, there is nothing more important than communication. Your manager and team are no longer a few desks away so the progress you’ve been making isn’t going to be as clear. Be proactive about communication - your manager trusts you to get your work done but they’ll still want to know when you’re hitting key milestones with projects. If you’re clearly stating your progress regarding what you’ve accomplished, you’ll set your manager at ease and make everyone's lives easier.
Communicating with your manager is important but what about that day to day chatter that you have with your team in the office? If you’re working from home you may feel the distance between you and your team start to grow - it’s also important to break up the work tasks with non work-focused comms. IM is particularly useful for dropping a quick off-topic comment, sharing a joke, or asking a quick question.
Consider your workspace
Set yourself up for success in a place where you can focus on the tasks at hand. Create a designated spot for work at home, make sure that you feel motivated by your environment and ready to tackle whatever comes your way.
Making your home workspace mirror your office workspace will help maximize efficiency. For all of you who are used to using two-screens you’ll understand the frustration of going from two back down to one. Used to listening to music while you work? Make sure to have headphones ready to go at home too.
Taking breaks may seem counterproductive to getting work done but making sure you’re taking time for yourself will ultimately make you more productive. It’s easy to get sucked in to your computer screen with no one around to ask you to lunch or to help them with a project and conversely, if you’re not scheduling breaks it’s easy to rationalize “I can spare a few minutes here to run the vacuum” or “a few minutes there to make a snack”. Scheduling your breaks will make sure that you’re maintaining the balance needed to effectively accomplish what you need to accomplish.
If you’re not used to working from home, you likely spend time each day on a train, in a car, on a bike getting to and from work. How much time does your commute typically take? When do you normally leave for work? This tip may not work for everyone but I like to start my work from home day when I would normally leave for work and build in an extra half hour each way towards longer breaks throughout the day.
Whether you prefer a few longer breaks or several short ones, it’s important to schedule your break time to maintain balance.
Have video capabilities? Use it.
This might be one of the most important tips to working from home - utilizing video capabilities. For starters, when you’re spending all your time away from your team, seeing their faces can add to the feeling of connectivity that’s lacking.
We’ve also touched on how important communication is and leveraging video is the next best thing to a face to face conversation. How many times has someone misread tone or intent in an email? When you’re able to match up your expressions to what you’re saying you limit the possibility of being misunderstood in a time where proper communication is paramount.
Getting ready to “go” to work.
Tempting as it may be to work in your pajamas, maintaining a morning routine of “getting ready for work” will help define the line between work and home - even if you’re still at home. It’s a bit of a mental shift, once you’ve dawned your armour and stepped onto the field, it’s time to go to work. They say to dress for the job you want - sometimes you just have to get dressed.