This week, millions of Americans suddenly became remote workers, working from home instead of reporting to the office every day by 9am. But for our team at Strategic Communications Group, Inc. (Strategic), we’ve been working from home every day for nearly a decade. While we made this decision to support our commitment to work-life balance, the familiarity with remote working has enabled our team to deliver value during snowstorms, bizarre DC traffic incidents, and now during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While working from home can be fun and rewarding it can also be stressful, especially as you get settled and establish new routines. So, from the comfort of my home office, I reached out to my colleagues to ask for their best working from home pro tips. Here’s what they had to say:
Tip 1 – Establish a Dedicated Office Space
This was something that is really important to many of our team members. While it’s tempting to work in front of the TV or in bed, it’s better to have a dedicated office space, even if it’s a chair and small desk. Ryan Schradin, who heads up our Digital and Communications Services team shared: “Try to identify and create an environment where you’re most productive. For example, my obvious (albeit undiagnosed) ADD makes it necessary that I not have distractions (think TVs, video game consoles) immediately available. Since much of my work is writing/typing, the desktop computer with large monitor and full-size keyboard keeps me working efficiently.” Senior Associate, Jackie Davis added: “A dedicated office space with a door that can keep out distractions is the thing I need most. And decorate that space so it makes you happy, just ignore the dead plant in the corner of my office right now!”
Tip 2 – Plan, Organize, Strategize, and Execute for Home and Office
When you work from home it’s easy to just let the day unfold for things that need to get done at home and at work. But that’s a recipe for distraction and a to-do list that never gets done according to Senior Vice President of Enterprise Accounts, Shany Seawright. Shany solves this challenge by making a list while she has coffee and setting her intention for the day. “I write one word at the top of my to-do list to keep me focused,” she shared. “And I always add in both professional and personal to-do items and then prioritize it. It feels good to check off both items and ensures that you maintain a balance between work and life. You don’t have to ignore one for the other.”
Tip 3 – Get Up, Put on Pants, Get to Work
This tip nearly caused a virtual argument for our team. About half of us are diehard fans of putting on pants and getting to work, while the others are committed to working in the comfort of PJs. “Dress like you’re going to leave the house. It helps build a distinction between ‘home and leisure time’ and ‘work and productivity time,’” shared Senior Associate, Justin Lee. “When I change out of PJs and into ‘real people’ clothes in the morning it just puts me into a work state of mind.”
Tip 4 – Take a Break, Find Your Virtual Water Cooler
Another bad trap to fall into when working from home is to work non-stop, after all, beyond the cat jumping on the keyboard once in a while, there are a lot fewer distractions than in a physical office. While I miss Ryan’s singing, I can concentrate far more intently at home, which can lead to hours passing without taking a break. And this is bad for a whole host of reasons from health implications to creativity. “Work is as much a social environment as it is a place of productivity,” said Heidi Bullman, our newest team member. Added Senior Associate Chelsea Barone,“listen to your brain when it’s telling you it needs a break. Take a quick walk, check-in with a friend or co-worker on chat, Twitter, or text, go get a glass of water. Changing the scenery, even if it’s just a little, helps my brain reset and wards off mental blocks.”
While the reason that working from home is suddenly an option for so many previously office-based workers is awful, we hope that these tips make your time in the telework trenches a pleasant and productive experience. Share your own ideas and experiences with us @Team_Strategic.