Most of us have had to make some big adjustments to our regular daily schedules due to the coronavirus pandemic. After many cities have implemented Shelter in Place mandates most employees have now been asked to work from home due to the risk of exposure. As this is a wonderful solution thanks to our ever-evolving technology toolsets, there are also new challenges that may arise as telecommuting is a learned skill within itself. Having telecommuted in many different roles over the past seven years, including running a completely virtual company, there are nine tips I wish I had figured out earlier in my telecommuting career that I hope will be helpful to you during this time of new experiences. Here are 9 Tips to Maximize Work From Home During COVID-19.
1. Create a Workspace
Creating a workspace for yourself can be a vital tool when it comes to focusing in a home environment. Just as you have your own workspace at your office, it is helpful to create a workspace at home to continue the routine of “going” to work. Creating a workspace limits distractions and also helps family members understand that if you are in your workspace, you are working and unavailable.
2. Set a Daily Schedule
Maybe your job needs you to work 9-5. Maybe you can choose your own hours and want to work from 7-3. Whatever your situation is, set a daily schedule for yourself and stick to it. Without a daily schedule, it is easy to become less productive and end up working on and off the clock as you see fit. A daily schedule helps keep you accountable for putting in a full day of work. A daily schedule also keeps you accountable for clocking out and actually stopping work at the end of the day.
3. Make a Task List
Make a task list for yourself every day. This is important because it lays out exactly what you will be doing within your daily schedule. A task list is one of the best tools to help you stay focused and get the job done.
Organize your task list in order of importance and do your work in that order. This prioritization adds an extra layer of accountability to your workday helping you stay focused and on-task. We all get tempted to procrastinate on harder projects. A commitment to doing your tasks in order of priority can feel difficult at first, but at the end of the day, you will have more done with the assurance that what was completed is actually important.
5. Up the Communication Level
Working remotely can remove layers of information from body language, tone, and energy that we get when we work together in an office. Upping your communication level can be helpful for keeping projects on task with your team. It is also a great opportunity to employ your active listening skills ensuring that you clearly understand what is expected of you.
6. Use Technology
There are so many ways to communicate digitally with the vast arsenal of tech tools available for consumers and businesses. Google Drive is one of the best systems to use in remote work situations especially when multiple team members need to be working on the same project. Google Hangouts can be especially helpful for group creative projects thanks to features like screen sharing that allow you to share your computer screen with multiple people.
7. Be Ethical
Be ethical and don’t do personal business on company time. It’s easy to be tempted to step away from your work station for longer than is necessary, especially when you are working at home with unlimited distractions. If you need a break, take a short break just as you would if you were in your office. Working from home means you have more autonomy over your work environment. This does not mean though that this autonomy should be abused or disrespected. If you find you are needing more structure and accountability talk with your supervisor about what solutions might be available to help keep you on track.
8. Set Clear Expectations
Set clear expectations with what work you can complete at your new work station. If your work at home situation is significantly different from your office situation, make sure you set clear expectations of what you can and can’t do. It is better to be honest about what work is possible given your current situation than doing incomplete work without an explanation. Setting clear expectations will benefit you and your employer and will help your lines of communication remain open and honest.
9. Be Patient
Be patient with the transition. There will likely be a learning curve in this process as there is with every new experience. Be patient with your coworkers, your managers, and with yourself. Strive to give your best and learn from your mistakes. And remember, tomorrow is a new day with the opportunity to try again.
If you are a manager, click here for 7 Tips for Managing Remote Teams During COVID-19.