Working from home can be challenging

Coming into 2020, how many of you were willing to bet that you would have had to figure out how to turn your home into a functioning office?  While most companies are being forced to practice social distancing measures other workers in every industry are being asked to work from home.  This means attending meetings via video or phone and completing work requiring a lot of attention and focus amidst our haven of home. And working from home can be challenging. There may be kids running around being kids, you may not have a space you can call a home office, or you may just be one of those ‘I just can’t work from home!’ people.  Either way, here are few tips to help you succeed.

Create a work space... for only work

This may seem like a simple tip, but it is the most important on the list.  Many of us may opt for the kitchen table, or even our beds, to set up our computers.  However, studies show that the work stress we experience can be brought to other assets of our lives in this way.  Therefore, creating a work space that is only for work, allows us to compartmentalize our work and personal lives, which leads to more happiness outside of work, and greater productivity at work. It also lets you walk away from it which is another challenge when bringing work into your world of home. Where does one start and the other end? Having a designated space allows you to isolate work and revel in home. This is one of the reasons people love the coworking space at the business centre as it is all the flexibility of working from home but in a professional environment so you get the best of both worlds.

Make twice as many calls and send half as many emails

The reality of working from home is that you have to work a little harder to maintain your work relationships. Solve problems, connect with your team members, and troubleshoot with a phone call. Save your emails for easy, short communication. If you are the manager/leader of a team, schedule video chats and conference calls on a regular basis to keep everyone on the same page.

Work your usual work hours

The temptation to work a few hours here, work a few hours there becomes very enticing when working from home. However, if you stay on your regular schedule that your body, and your family, is already used to you are likely to perform better and be happier when called back into work. Your coworkers who are working at home are also expecting you to work ‘regular hours’ so this makes it easier for them to communicate with you.

If you haven’t already, learn to use a video chat application

With what’s going on right now this is incredibly important.  We must be able to stay in touch with those who are also isolating themselves and our coworkers working from home.  We can always talk on the phone but sometimes that face to face element is necessary. Zoom, Google Hangouts, Facetime (iPhones only)  and Microsoft Teams are great options.

Take breaks

While working from home, it is easy to eat lunch while checking emails, or talk on the phone while organizing laundry.  Again, this isn’t compartmentalizing work from personal life. Plan for a scheduled break. This may be at a specific time, or when you have completed a task. Move out of your workspace, enjoy your break and then get back to it.

Dress professionally (or close to it)

This might seem like a weird tip, however, if you are needing to get stuff done, try it.  An early morning shower and ‘real clothes’ can go a long way to tricking your mind into a productive, ‘get it done’ state. Those PJ’s are comfy but you’ll do your best work if your dressed for work.

Make expectations clear 

If you are new to working from home, your children, spouses and/or pets are going to be so happy that you're not gone for 8 hours of the day.  What follows for you is constant attention and distraction from all three groups. It is important to make expectations clear with those around you that, when you are in your workspace, you cannot be distracted unless it is an emergency.  Visuals are a great way to do this. “If my door is shut I am on the phone.” or “If you see me with my earbuds in I am making a work call.” Another good one is "If you see me in this chair I'm at work, when I am out of this chair I am all yours!" These visual cues really help kids to understand your working.

Have tiny ones?

Just hold them on your lap and do what you can. In a world without daycare and all your babysitters in isolation you won’t be the only one wiping jelly off your shirt during a conference call. Just embrace the situation with a little laughter and do what you can do.

Get exercise and get outside! 

Increasing blood flow helps your overall focus and attention.  If you’re ever stuck in a rut, go for a walk outside for 10-15 minutes.  Often times you’ll come back to the problem with a new perspective. It’s good for mental health too.

Heartland Stationers delivers

Jule at Heartland Stationers will deliver office supplies to businesses. If you are working from home they will deliver on a case by case basis. If it is office supplies, office furniture or office equipment, Jule either has it or can order it in for you.

Stettler Mobile Solutions delivers

Stettler Mobile can help with office supplies too. VOIP phone systems, computers, tablets, office paper and anything you may need for your home office and they deliver.

Overall, the best thing to do when working from home is to compartmentalize work life and personal life.  Try your best to completely separate these two and your productivity and happiness will increases.

Submitted by Nick Schmidt, Office Manager at Central Alberta Business Centre