Six Tips to Keep WFH Life from Turning into WTF

Are you working from home today? You are?!

Driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses, when possible, have transitioned to teams working from home for the foreseeable future. The new “normal” has its own challenges, and right now there are a lot of tips out there on how to work from home. After reviewing testing, implementing and working from home using some of these recommendations – we have come up with our own six tips for improving your Work From Home (WFH) life.

Start the Day Right

Issue: When you go to the office, there is a physical transition. Going from home to the office is a mental cue and it triggers the brain from home life to work life. Working from home can blur this line and can make flipping that mental switch difficult.

Recommendation: Set a morning routine that signals the start of the workday. Wake-up, work-out, make coffee, get dressed, start work with the same task each day when possible, i.e. morning news scan, reviewing social media posts for the day, ping co-workers to say good morning, etc. Flip that mental switch and get to work.

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Designate Office Space

Issue: Designating a workspace is about mindset, but also organization and logistics. Yes, the couch and bed are comfy, the kitchen table is right there and you can open your laptop anywhere, but you need to be set your home life aside and not let it interfere (as much as possible) with your work and vice versa. Having work scattered throughout the house is inefficient and eventually will be like looking for lost keys when you need to leave. Similarly, working from where you eat or sleep blurs the home-life work-life lines for not only you, but anyone who is riding out the pandemic with you.

Recommendation: Define a space for work. For those who have limited space, this can be a challenge and you might need to get creative. However, this might be the most essential tip to successfully working from home. When setting up a work from home area, identify what is necessary for your job and what you need to optimize your performance, i.e. multiple outlets and surge-protectors, laptop, phone, headset, monitors, power cords etc. If possible, pick a space that is as removed from foot-traffic and interruptions in the house. If nothing else, utilize a bag or box to house your home office – it will keep everything together and bringing it out will signal to everyone that business is about to go down.

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Commuting Time to Better Use

OPPORTUNITY: Your commute is gone! This isn’t really an issue, outside of the mindset thing we discussed in “Start the Day Right.” Remember that 30, 45, 60-minute commute you used to do each way, GONE! You have back the most valuable and elusive thing in the world – TIME.

Suggested Uses: Use this time to catch up on work projects, get your professional development on, do a deep dive on news and topics related to your profession or use it for quality family time. Though you might have had enough of that at some point.

Enjoy your free time – which is an excellent segue into our next tip.

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Set Expectations

Issue: Blurred lines between work and home, coupled with EVERYONE in your household holed up together, starts to feel like one endless day. Work demands compete with household needs. They were separate, and we liked it that way. Now that their combined, and there is no way around that. Let’s be clear this is not normal WFH procedures. In normal times kids, pets, delivery guys, etc. would not join in on the meetings and there were more options for finding a quiet space.

Recommendation: Boundaries, Boundaries, Boundaries . . .Boundaries. Can’t say this enough. Setting boundaries and expectations with team members is key. If you can’t be as responsive as usual set automatic replies to let the sender know you are working, response time is delayed, and you will respond as soon as you can. On the flip side – do not set the expectation that since you are working from home you are available and willing to work all hours – communicate the hours are you available.

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Pull the Plug

Issue: All work and no play, will make you go Jack Nicholson à la “The Shining”. Without a need to beat the rush, catch a train or hop on the bus, it is easy to work, work, work, work. Also an issue – Being online and in front of a screen, ALL THE TIME!!!

Recommendation:  You have communicated the hours you are available, now stick to them. Shut down, step away, and enjoy your non-commute, commute time! Connect with projects, passions, hobbies, etc. that don’t require a device.

Practice Self Care

Issue: All the time at home makes it easy to go from minimal showering to the realm of self-neglect, which a lot or us already struggle with. We put others first, let basic maintenance, exercise, etc. slide. However, right now is really when you need to take care of yourself and be healthy.

Recommendation: Look to Improve physical and mental health where possible. This is basic but important: get enough sleep, eat well, exercise, meditate or do other mental activities that get you in the right headspace. Your physical and mental health are a top priority right now.

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