It's a new era for business. The COVID-19 outbreak has effectively created a new work from home policy for the world. For many, this is totally new territory, and so we asked some of our Malbek colleagues for their best tips on how to be successful when your new morning commute simply involves rolling out of bed and walking to your working desk. Many of our Malbek colleagues are work-from-home veterans, and here are their 9 best work from home tips:
Stick to a schedule
It might be tempting to throw the time clock out with your business attire, but don't do it. Sticking to a routine will actually help you stay in a work groove. Whatever hours you would normally work, continue doing that. Those standing meetings you used to have, continue holding them but do them virtually. What you want to avoid is working all hours of the day. That's a recipe for burnout.
Dress for comfort and success
If you are going to be on a video conference, what you wear above the waist matters. What you wear below the waist doesn’t matter as much. 😉 But in all seriousness, reconsider working in your pajamas. It my be tempting, but often people find it harder to get into a working mindset when they’re wearing last night’s PJs. Just like sticking to a schedule, taking a shower and putting on some halfway decent, but still comfortable, clothes will keep you in work mode.
Love your work space
Just because your new office is a corner of the bedroom or half of the dining room table, doesn't mean it has to feel makeshift or temporary. Surround yourself with your kids’ drawings, family photos, a favorite lotion, desk toys, or whatever makes you happy. Make sure you have the equipment you need to be successful in your job. Set up a second monitor. Prop up your laptop on a box so it's at a comfortable eye level. Keep office supplies handy, and above all, find a chair that is truly comfortable. Your back will thank you.
Use a headset
In a quiet office, you might have been able to get away with holding conversations on speakerphone, but the home office is a little different. Consider using a headset or even earbuds with a microphone to help minimize background noise. Plus, holding a phone to your ear or shouting at your computer all day will get old real fast.
Sometimes out of sight means out of mind. When people can’t see you working, they tend to assume you’re not working at all. Work from home veterans know this isn't the case. In fact, studies show that those who work from home tend to work longer hours. Nevertheless, if your whole team is new to working remotely, it’s probably jarring for everyone. Reach out to coworkers. Check in on projects. Chat about how crazy all of this is. It will keep you (and them) engaged and focused and help to ease the transition.
Close the door and put up a sign
If you have the ability to work in a private space, then close the door and put a sign up. Let the kids (or your retired significant other 😊) know that if the door is closed it means you are busy. If you are out in the open, you can create a code with your kids to establish urgent versus it can wait. 3 fingers might mean it’s urgent while 1 means see me when you can. Explain to them in advance that just because you are not talking doesn’t mean they can interrupt you. You could be listening on a conference call and not muted. Besides other people in the house, phone calls and text alerts can cause distractions, so remember to adjust your phone volume when in important meetings. And just ignore the delivery guy unless he's dropping off lunch!
Mute and sticky notes are your friends
Remember, the mute button is your best friend. Sometimes the kids will forget you're on a call and flush the toilet in the bathroom next to your office (or yell to inform you what’s happening in there 😳), or the dog will see something outside and start barking like crazy. That's when the mute button comes to the rescue. And if you can't mute yourself and your colleagues hear barking or other noises, don't sweat it. You are not alone. Everyone will understand the circumstances of having kids and pets around with background noises. And to avoid the surprise of hopping on a conference call with video automatically enabled, keep a sticky note over your webcam.
Get moving and stretching
This is a critical one. Be sure to exercise. You don't have to run a marathon, but take time to move and stretch your body. And don’t forget to give your eyes a break too. Staring at a computer screen hour after hour can really strain them. Here's an idea. If you're sitting in meeting after meeting and you have a wireless headset, stand up and walk around the room. You'll appreciate the change of scenery and you can get some extra steps in that way!
Take care of you
It's far too easy to get sucked into the work vortex and forget to take care of yourself. Don't skip meals because you're too busy or start rationing your bathroom trips. Try to schedule one lunch date a week to keep socially connected. For now, that's going to be a date with family at home or a group FaceTime happy hour! Listen to music. Keep a water bottle at your desk so you stay hydrated and some healthy snacks handy in case your call runs long.
These are tough days, but we will get through it! And be sure to share some of your favorite work from home tips.