With the majority of the world enabling their teams to work remotely, we know this isn’t a typical work-from-home day where the house is empty. Several weeks or more where schools are closed, childcare is unavailable, and the other working spouse is also home creates challenges to coordinate and balance while still getting work done.
While it may appear different, working at home with others can be similar to the office experience. At the office, we live by a shared calendar, coordinated meeting spaces, and constant interruptions from impromptu conversations. Because of this, transitioning from the office to the home office can happen smoothly with a little effort and planning. Here are a few ideas to help you create a positive, effective, and productive work environment at home.
Schedule the day
Whether you and your spouse share the same room for your home office or there are kids home for a few weeks, lay out a plan for how you will function symbiotically. Discuss things like:
- What room needs to be a quiet space?
- Where do calls or meetings get taken?
- What are your daily or weekly work schedules and critical remote meetings?
- What time is needed to complete specific work deadlines?
Laying all of this out in a schedule may sound extreme to non-planners however, blocking time and space is critical to making this work.
Being co-located with your team makes it easier to think, share, and articulate on the fly but this is not always productive and becomes even more difficult when working remotely. Fortunately, there are many productivity tools that make face-to-face and quick calls possible but there are things we can do to make these conversations more productive such as:
A better way to chat
Sending someone who is currently busy a question in chat tends to become a broken conversation that takes time to get to a conclusion.
Try this: Ask someone if they have a minute to chat with you and once you have their attention, ask away.
Benefit: You can enjoy a conversation with fewer gaps in between.
A better way to have a quick call
Asking someone to join you on a video call to discuss something that is on your mind but not necessarily theirs creates the need for more time to reset and explain.
Try this: Take a minute to write down what you want to discuss in the form of a question or two in a mini-agenda. Send it to the person using a meeting tool like Docket and give them a few minutes to think about prior to the call.
Benefit: Give the other person time to wrap their head around the topic and be ready for the brief call.
A better way to get feedback
Sharing a document or design with your team with a quick note that says, “Please review,” can lead to a delay or lack of response.
Try This: Put a little more guidance or instruction together explaining your expectations such as what you need them to do, how, and when.
Benefit: This additional effort will help them quickly understand what they need to do and how they can fit it into their remote work schedule and priorities so you can expect your feedback when you need it.
Make time for family
If we are all honest, our family is all around us and they don’t operate on a 9-5 schedule. The reality is that they will need our time and attention too. Older children may have homework or video calls to keep up with their education and younger children still require playtime and learning time as well.
When you schedule your day or week, include time for family needs as well. This should include:
- Mealtime and snacktime
- Pet care
- Outside time for exercise
- Learning and study time
- Naptime or quiet time
Moms and dads will need to decide who is running the show during those blocks so the other can continue to work, keeping everyone as productive as possible.
Take care of yourself
We are home for a reason. There is a lot going on around us that creates more of a focus on health and happiness. Use this time at home to make sure you take care of yourself.
- You have your own kitchen – Try to create healthier meals than the local restaurant you went to at the office.
- You don’t have a commute or school drop – Try to schedule some time to take a walk or a jog.
- Your workday can start earlier – Make rest a priority by finding time to take a nap or going to bed on time.
By putting in a little upfront planning and being slightly more intentional and thoughtful in your conversations, working remotely for any length of time can be enjoyable and provide personal opportunities with family and health that would not ordinarily be possible.