I have been working remotely 100% for 2 years. I made so many mistakes during my first year of working from home. I began this blog to share with you useful tips that I have learned along the way. Here are my top strategies for workers new to working from home.
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1) Craft a Dedicated Space
Initially, my workspace was in my bedroom which is my oasis. My room is flooded with natural light. Part of setting the ambiance is having a clean workspace. When working from my room I usually make the bed and clear up any clutter in the immediate vicinity of my workspace. It doesn't have to be spotless, but tucking away anxiety triggers like piles of clothes, toys, and trash will you to maintain a clear mind while working.
Now, I have a she-shed! I converted my guest bedroom into my personal office complete with a workout station. I have never felt so excited to utilize my little office for both my professional and personal ventures. I keep my crafting supplies here as well as a stack of Oprah's magazines. Having an entire room to yourself may not be an option, but if it is I highly recommend it. If you can not hide away behind closed doors, then craft a cozy work nook for yourself. My bedroom workspace worked great when I needed it.
Small space office furniture can be purchased from Ikea, Pier 1 Imports, and World Market. Even more affordable furniture can be bought at Target and Biglots without compromising functionality and style. You have options and you are worth the investment if you can swing it.
2) Measure Your Productivity
Several apps exist to measure your time and work output. My app of choice is Toggl. Toggl is an app that allows you track your time worked on different tasks. You can set it up for use from your phone or your computer. As a contractor, I find it important to always track the time you spend on projects. This will protect you if you ever need to submit proof later on for an audit or if a client inquires.
3) Know Your Tools
We live in the age of technology and there are several tools and resources available. These tools include Zoom, WebEx, Google Hangouts, Slack, and Facebook Workspace to name a few. Every job prefers a different tool of choice, but you can beat the curve by already downloading these or picking one for personal use to become familiar with.
4) & 5 Create a Schedule AND Establish a Routine
We are living in the season of COVID and quarantine. It is difficult to plan and retain a sense of normal, but I ask you to try to find your new normal. My work routine includes cleaning up my workspace, pouring a cup of coffee, and selecting an audiobook, podcast, or show to listen to while I work. I personally need to have background noise to tune into or out of as I please. In regards to workflow, I typically take at least a 15-minute break for every hour of work.
When I sit down to do work, I immediately start my Toggl timer and set a short term goal. Essentially, my day can be divided between the completion of several small goals. As a small business owner, my Toggl timer helps me keep track of goals completed and billable hours. If you work in a freelance or are self-employed, tracking your time and invoicing appropriately is key.
6) Tag Team
Work can be stressful, working from home with small children can seem impossible. If you have additional support, then juggling work and family can be a bit more manageable. However, many of you like myself may have lost their usual support system due to quarantine. My greatest piece of advice is to be flexible and to not sweat the small stuff. Test and try different work schedules to see what could work best for your family. Find your support whether it comes from family, childcare, a Facebook group, a moms club, or your best girlfriends. Know your tribe and ask for help or seek a listening ear when you need it. I highly recommend read my ing other post that discusses what working from home looks like for my family during the quarantine.
7) Be Vocal
Stay in communication with your team, manager, boss, etc. Remote work is best utilized when combined with effective communication. You must take the lead in vocalizing your needs to your employer and clarify their expectations of your output. Inform your boss of any and all work interruptions and life circumstances that may have any impact on your production.
Even when things are going well, I like to touch base with my team just to check-in. I maintain open lines of communication which makes it easier to discuss or request issues and concerns when they do arise.
8) Communicate Effectively
Having one person work from home can heavily impact the family. Having both parents work from home can completely turn your world upside down. You both have job requirements and different expectations of what working from home entails.
Working from home with school-age kids or young children is no easy feat. Establishing effective communication with your family is just as important as knowing how to communicate with your work team. Do not make assumptions about what your partner may need, ask questions, and remember that you are on the same team. Working from home is an adjustment that affects the whole household. Adjustments take time to adapt to.
9) Define Boundaries
If your job does not require you to be on call then do not answer emails outside of normal hours of operation. I struggle with this and I admit that it is easier to switch things off during quarantine times. With my daughter home with us 24/7, I work when and where I can. That being said I would prefer to have dedicated hours every day when I know I can sit down and work and then leave my work behind.
10) Give Your Self Grace
Remember that the switch to remote work takes time to transition. Working from home is hard and working from home with kids is near impossible. I sincerely hope that businesses transitioning their employees to remote work understand their employee's circumstances. We are living in the thick of a worldwide pandemic. Those who are blessed to have a job right now may find themselves working under atypical circumstances. Many are working from home without full-time child care or the usual support that would exist during non-quarantine times. This will be a challenge, but you can tackle this. It will require support, leniency, and realistic expectations from all parties involved.